‘Stand Up for the Week’ seems to have outraged critics. Not actually because of the show- in brief, it is a Channel Four comedy show, in which stand-up comedians talk about the goings-on of the week in front of a live studio audience. The reason the critics have united against it is because the press release described the show as ‘edgy’ and ‘outrageous’. For some reason, this has been taken to mean the jokes will be unnecessarily rude and belittling, and brimming with enough coarse language to make a hooker blush.
Well, as I stood on balcony at the intimate-yet-decadent Koko Club on Wednesday night, I decided to throw these preconceived notions out of the window. So the press release may have made lofty assumptions and pissed people off- does that really matter if the jokes are good?
With that thought in mind, on struts Patrick Kielty, our emcee for the evening. Now, I had to agree with the most of the reviews I’d read- his pre-prepared material came off as quite mechanical. Yet, his rapport with the audience was brilliant- he was easily at his most charming and hilarious when he was off the cuff. Yet, of course, these moments of ad-lib banter were cut from the TV show.
After being nicely warmed up by Kielty, out comes the first guest, Jack Whitehall. Now, if we’re being honest, it is very hard to say anything in that accent without sounding like a smarmy, privately-educated bastard. What I’d seen of Jack Whitehall previously was hit-and-miss; sometimes, it was incredibly accurate and blisteringly funny; other times, it seemed unnecessarily mired in filth. But, I have to say I was very impressed with his performance. His routine flowed ridiculously well- he managed flit from Top Gear to Michaela’s Zoo Babies with impressive ease- not an easy feat, I can tell you.
Whitehall was a tough act to follow, and Kevin Bridges took up this unenviable task. Bridges may have the hardest job of the night- he is the sports correspondent, and as you may know, fuck all happened in sports this week. Unfortunately, this meant Bridges’ opportunities for laughs were limited- he even at one point had to rehash the old vuvuzela jokes. Needless to say I was a little disappointed by the promising young comedian, but he did his best with an exhausted topic.
The second least desirable job of the night was that of Andi Osho, who basically has to talk about stuff she’s found on the internet. I find this subject matter a bit of an insult to this hilarious comedian- her peers get World News, Entertainment and Sports- in comparison her job title seems, well, pretty shit. Surprisingly, Osho took this in her stride, and had one of the best routines of the night. Unfortunately, on the final cut of the TV show, some of her funniest jokes (about her mother and a hysterical Mr T impression) were left out, presumably because they were ‘off subject’. However, her piece on the Darth Vader robber made it to the final cut, and was hysterical- I literally cried with laughter.
Undoubtedly, the highlight of the night was Rich Hall- a surprisingly big name for this show. As he walked on stage, he was greeted with five minutes of cries and cheers before he even told a joke. Anticipation was high, and by God he didn’t disappoint. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you how simultaneously accurate and side-splitting this guy is. It was a real treat to see him live, and I’d whole-heartedly recommend him to anyone.
After the usual correspondents comes a segment of the show that has attracted alot of media attention- The Chair. Basically, a Z-List celebrity is sat in a chair (shockingly) and is verbally abused for two minutes by Patrick Kielty, in the fashion of celebrity roasts (a trend which Channel 4 is currently toying with). The celebrity this week was Chantelle from Big Brother. It was, in a word, excruciating. It was pretty painful to watch the perma-tanned young lady stare up at Kielty with a nonplussed, doe-eyed look on her face, as he referred to her as a ‘cheap slapper’. What made it all the worse were her constant interjections of ‘I don’t get it!’ Personally, I don’t think the ‘celebrity roast’ will take off here as it has in the US- it just seems cruel to have the butt of all of the jokes sat in the spotlight as their career and reputation are slandered.
After we’d all finished cringing, the guest comedian Steve Hughes takes to the stage. Now, he has the easiest job of the night- a longer slot, and he can talk about anything he wants, giving him alot more creative reign than his colleagues. Yet, the light applause that beckons Hughes’ entrance is punctuated with calls of ‘Who the fuck is this guy?’ Things only get worse when, as the audience chatter dies down, a lone voice shouts ‘YOU’RE FUCKING SHIT!’ Oh dear. Hughes turned, his expression completely composed, and retorts: ‘I’ve been on the circuit ten years- don’t worry, I know how to deal with c***s like you’. Cheers all around. What follows is more of the same- acerbic wit and impeccable timing. His routine about trains and the underground is particularly well-received in the Central London location. Some of his jokes may not have been to my personal taste, but you can’t dispute his talent.
Walking away from the evening, my thought is this: this show is a gem, but only if you see it live. The editors appear to favour ‘outrageous’ jokes over funny ones, and the choppy editing subtracts from the overall flow of the routines. I urge you, come see the show live- the atmosphere of the Koko and sheer hilarity is lost somewhere on the cutting room floor. This show undoubtedly has potential, but if optioned for a second series, the production team should have a long hard think about their editing- it compromises the very heart of this show.