the current political climate it is a dangerous thing to be North
American and performing live on a UK stage. American Rich Hall and
Canadian support act Mike Wilmot rose to the challenge bravely in
front of a packed Oxford Playhouse.
warm-up covered everything from the cultural gulf between Canadians
and their American neighbours to middle-aged male laziness and female
dominance in relationships. The jokes were funniest when Wilmot
was making fun of himself and his lack of sexual prowess, during
which the audience were almost paralysed with laughter.
Hall's stand-up was exactly what we've come to expect - brash and
vitriolic but incredibly funny. He began with an apology for being
American, and followed up with attacks on George Bush's stupidity
and the folly of the Gulf War. But he went further than merely trading
on the UK public's increasingly hate-hate relationship with the
States and moved on to laugh at Brits in general as well as specifically
selected audience members who were unable to answer simple questions
such as 'what is your job?'
two of the set saw Mike Wilmot take the stage once again, this time
with a far more explicit set, focusing on the sexual incompatibility
of men and women. This was arguably even funnier than his first
appearance, especially with Hall heckling from backstage.
returned as his alter ego Otis Lee Crenshaw and performed a number
of country and western style songs with his own lyrical twists.
Among the best of these were his part-improvisations based on discussions
with audience members. Heckling from these same audience members
meant that Hall often dropped out of his Crenshaw persona to answer
back with the quick-fire wit and intelligence which characterises
the rest of his stand-up.
was the last night of a 36-date tour of the UK and the evening resembled
the last day of a school term. Both comedians hilariously tried
to undermine each other in the second half, and after a number of
encores the applause showed that a good time was had by all. Bring
on the next tour!