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Monday March 3, 2003
Harry Hill reviewed
Harry Hill
Harry Hill astounds his audience at the Apollo.


Fred Davis is blown away by Harry Hill's antics at the Oxford Apollo.

Pity it was for one night only!

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By Fred Davis


If you collected all the comedians
from 1950 until about 1987 and put them in a big glass jam jar (with holes in the lid to allow them to breathe), then dropped it on to the Apollo stage, the resulting mayhem would be as enjoyably random as Harry Hill's show.

Hill’s lunatic entrance preamble of wild insults to the spectacle-wearing, bald-headed and bearded members of the front stalls let all know who was in charge. That sorted, Hill invited us to his show.

The first half was the stand-up routine. Like a drunken machine-guner firing at will, Hill sent his ravings, rants and ramblings zipping into the auditorium. At about a hundred rounds a second came the stories and fantastical observations: burying Nan in the fridge; children’s shoe collecting round bouncy castles; Live Aid singing teeth; Jesus as a duck; the sound of corduroy at a Countryside Alliance march; the truth behind the beaded curtains at Oxfam and more.

In fact, the first half could have continued easily into the second were it not for a large ice cream cone walking calmly across the stage to inform Dr Hill of the impending interval.

In part two, Hill was joined on stage by the superbly talented backing duo The Caterers; Stouffer, his small blue cat; Gary, his long-lost ballet dancing son; and Karate Badger, who did a martial arts demonstration.

Still at full throttle, Hill screeched in and out of songs, sketches, and general incidents; this was unadulterated variety, good clean silliness. To look away for a moment meant missing a trick or a turn.

The end as endings go was a slightly lower key event then I had anticipated; but nothing other than a nuclear explosion could quite have topped what had gone before. That said, credit must go to Donna, who was chosen from the audience to play the hamster in the finale and then never actually left the stage. I was impressed.

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