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28 October 2014
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July 2005
The Big Baa-ha!: "A contrary affair!"
dylan moran
Dylan Moran: 'An unmissable talent!'
Attending a comedy club in the midst of the Live 8 concert was always going to set this night apart as a contrary affair, writes STEPHEN CHAWKE of his evening spent at the Big Baa-ha! at Bradford's Alhambra theatre...
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Dylan Moran

Shazia Mirza

Bradford Alhambra Theatre

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While the rest of the world watches a momentous never-to-be-repeated occasion unfold, you can't help but wonder whether you've made the right choice. It's like that stab of 'plate envy' you get when a companion's meal arrives, looking far more appetising than your own.

To then discover that key ingredients of your evening's menu are not available (John Hegley/Kevin Eldon didn't show), you start to feel like some higher force is punishing you for not doing your bit to 'make poverty history'.

john hegley
Hegley: No show

Thankfully, the acts which did appear did their best to keep things buoyant until the main attraction arrived. Proceedings kicked off with mild-mannered Bradford poet Nick Toczek, creating polite amusement with clever wordplay and childish rhyme. He didn't do himself any comedy favours by reading a lengthy passage from his novel, but the audience seemed too good-natured to punish him for it.

Jenny Lockyer, a willowy comedy songstress followed. Cradling her guitar, she introduced herself as someone who 'writes silly songs'. Normally Richard Digence-style comedy songwriters are enough for me to take off a shoe and throw it hard, but Lockyer was too likeable for that - with singalong Victoria Wood-style whimsy on topics dear to a lady's heart - body image, men and chocolate.

shazia mirza
Mirza: Big laughs

Comedienne Shazia Mirza took us to the interval (which seemed all too quick to arrive - probably due to the holes in the line-up). Her Pakistani background and Birmingham upbringing were a rich source of original material and she garnered the first big laughs of the night - on topics such as wearings burkas ('It allows an entire family to share a bus pass') and the catcalls of Middle Eastern builders ('Get your face out').

The second act kicked off with Birds Of Paradise, an impressive yet sedate display of trapeze and acrobatic work. Two lasses in leotards covered in feathers hung from a giant ring above the stage and did a range of stretches and clings as Tony Hart style music and rainforest noises played in the background. Feathers kept falling mysteriously from the sky above them - either for effect, or because some giant bird was flying about in the rafters holding the ring!

It was with some relief that we returned to the comedy with Dylan Moran's welcome arrival on the stage. Never, I'll wager, has his warm up act been a couple of lithe human budgies.

keith floyd
Think Floyd: Is Dylan Moran related to TV chef Keith?

Moran's stig of the dump hair and grumpy demeanour instantly evoke images of his wickedly funny and well-loved Black Books show. And in stand-up, he doesn't disappoint. Frequently smoking and quaffing wine as he bumbles about the stage, he looks like a cross between Keith Floyd and an Irish Columbo. Though he appears to lumber from topic to topic, his ability to riff with the audience shows a far sharper mind that he lets on. His observations on modern chiselled musicians ('who get their arse flown in on a different plane'); on in-flight food ('should I have red or white wine with this fried roof slate!'); and fat men's undercarriages ('which live in a state of perpetual clamminess') garnered big laughs and truly saved the day. An unmissable talent.

...and we all still got home to see Paul McCartney and co. wrap up Live 8 with Hey Jude, so any pangs of regret swiftly passed.

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