Comedy for kids?
By Jeff Allum
The self-proclaimed 'world's only stand-up comedian for children' James Campbell entertained a well-supported Council Chamber audience for 45 minutes of giggles, as part of Ip-art 2009. But how did jokes about dead hamsters go down with the kids?
Children's comedian Campbell made his second festival visit to Suffolk in the past few months, following on from his appearance at the Woodbridge Literary Festival last October.
As a children's entertainer, I expected Campbell's set to be light, fluffy and knock-knock jokes, but I couldn't have been more wrong. What impressed me was his knack of maintaining the style of delivery of an "adult" comedian but still keeping the children well entertained on their level.
The opening sequence set the tone: straightaway there was interaction with children in the front row.
Of course you normally need a thick skin to brave a seat so close to a comedy act, but Campbell's gentle ribbing was well appreciated, and the audience had no qualms responding to his approachable manner.
The dead hamster sketch
The first 20 minutes centred around animals, mainly the attributes of certain animals as pets. A highlight was the comparison of audience members who owned hamsters, against those who used to.
The result making it clear that as a pet they are short-lived, and if you get them out of the pet shop still alive, it is a bonus.
This was brave material to use to pre-teens who could be sensitive to the subject, but James Campbell's animated approach to it brought plenty of smiles.
Weaved into the set were the awards for the winner and runners-up of the Ip-art Children's Short Story Competition, which were presented with comic effect to the delight of the recipients. I felt including the awards within the performance was an excellent idea and gave added sparkle to the presentation, particularly given the humour added by Campbell.
Asking the 11-year old winner what her story was about, she replied "child abuse". "Someone could have warned me!" he joked after a stunned pause. Priceless.
Finally, a sing-a-long to one of James Campbell's compositions, a touch of black comedy here as it told the tale of his wife, who eventually passes away and he finds a new wife "with hair that is red - but at least she's not dead!"
A humourous finale to an afternoon of enjoyable comedy presented very well.
Certainly worth a visit if appearing at a theatre (or primary school!) near you.
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last updated: 29/06/2009 at 11:44
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