Variety of Kings, Star of Kings - Review

Compered by Katie Prichard, comedy event Variety of Kings continues to go from strength to strength at its home at the Star of Kings pub in King's Cross. Again, six very different acts graced the stage, appealing to people of diverse sense of humour, with half the acts split between men and women.

Katie Prichard, as ever, was the consummate host, easily as good if not better as the official acts that regularly attend. Her parody rendition of Beyonce's Single Ladies that incorporated lettuces and other forms of salad was a perfect start to the evening.

Tall and lean with a slightly dishevelled appearance, the first act of the evening, Richard Todd looked a cross between Bob Dylan and Tom Baker. He was able to incorporate the low ceiling above him extensively in his routine which was rather too low for him, forcing him at times to stoop. I find the most interesting comedians have anecdotes about themselves, which even if they're fabricated, sound and feel like they are true. In Todd's case, his observations about being a twin and working as a counsellor with the destitute and homeless gave his routine a uniqueness with wry humour and gravitas.

Comedienne Rebekka Turner who appeared later in the evening is in some ways a throwback to the days when jokes and wordplay were more commonplace in stand-up. Similar in stature to the male comedians that evening, she has an imposing presence on stage and a caustic wit that is very much like Marmite – either you get it or you don't. With a penchant for popular culture references of the past, Turner delivery is often waspish and surreal. Her aptitude for impersonations of former celebrities like Su Pollard were spot on and something she should incorporate more readily in her act.

Dan Lees who headlined the event has a similar surreal bent to his comedy. Dressed as a bishop, Lees doesn't talk all. Instead  –  like Kenny Everitt's 'Brother Lee Love' persona with the giant pointy hands – Lees sashays among the audience, before giving a 'benediction' comprised of various cheeses and made-up words that sound funny yet 'fit' with the various 'fromages'. The rest of the act mostly comprised of Lees giving instructions to the audience to denote some pseudo-spiritual significance, but really it's a game to get the audience to  remember what 'nonsense' he's talking about.

As acts go, Ford and Roper aren't your usual comedy duo. Kelly Ford is visibly very pregnant, but that hasn't stopped her from performing sketches with Lucy Roper. Most of their sketches themselves dealt with the 'elephant in the room', whether they were about acknowledging Ford's physical state or in one online dating sketch, both parties telling the most outrageous fibs so that the other person will pick them. This was only Ford and Roper's second gig, and as such, showed much promise.

The penultimate act of the evening, Ryan Dalton (and another tall, slim comedian - 6"7!) brought his brand of laidback storytelling to Variety of Kings. His anecdote of a family holiday when he was 16, delivered example after example of embarrassing detail, proving that alcohol and hangovers (at least in anecdotes) are the gifts that keeps on giving.

For my money though, the highlight of the evening was the singing group Four Femmes On The Thames. Hailing from London, this singing quartet also adopt stage nomenclatures that sound inspired by the Spice Girl's monikers. There's Frivolous Femme, Free Spirit Femme, Fanciful Femme and Filthy Femme. The melodies of the songs they sung may have sounded like they were composed in the 1940s, but there's nothing coy or 'proper' about  these ladies. Their repertoire incorporated songs about the 'hassles' of travelling to zone 3 and beyond in London, Taking The Up The Shard and their piece de resistance, Woman Up. A very funny act and one that is likely to have great longevity.

© Michael Davis 2016.

Variety of Kings ran at the Star of Kings pub on 16th March 2016.


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