The Southbank is renowned for the weird and the wonderful, a microcosm all of its own. Home to an array of dedicated street performers, you can’t go a second without running into the likes of Mickey Mouse or The Tin Man. If you’ve found yourself walking past the eclectic cultural hub on your daily commute, you may have noticed the sudden appearance of a certain purple decorated farmyard animal. That could only mean one thing, the return of this year’s Udderbelly Festival!
An introduction to the creme de la creme of the comedy circuit, Mark Dolan comperes an evening of fun, frolics and uncanned laughter in this celebration of Udderbelly‘s 6 years on the Southbank. Dolan officially starts off the comedic roller coaster with references to the controversial case of the missing Malaysian Airline, our current fascination with Primark and Poundland, and dealing with an impromptu heckler in the form of a helicopter hovering up above the tent as it shamelessly attempts to steal his thunder.
First up, Morgan & West entertain with their quirky and eccentric brand of the strange and surreal. Dressed in Victorian attire, the self proclaimed time travelling duo perform a selection of tricks, all with the help of a glamorous assistant from the audience. From the ‘guessing of the card that had been selected from the deck trick’, to the bewildering and stomach churning ‘consumption of pins and thread, and attaching them together trick’, Morgan and West amuse and bewilder.
Modern day pirate Tony Law immediately commands roars of laughter with a buoyant and boisterous burst of energy. Humorously mastering the art form of blagging, Law freely admits minutes into his routine that he’s managed to construct a last minute comical anecdote on a train journey from Highbury and Islington. With the basis of the joke being that an African and Indian Elephant enter a bar, Law playfully subverts audiences expectations through the use of unexpected accents; with Law’s admission that if all else fails, resort to accents.
Brendan Burns provokes with his bolshie and brash comments targeted towards the audience. A lover of Monster Energy drinks, Burns hilariously speaks of the not so flattering after effects of the caffeinated drink, talking of the ironic comments shared by drug taking friends who appear to pass judgement on his habit. Speaking of his Australian roots and visiting a Chocolatier; masculinity and miscommunication become the crux of his anecdotes as he finds communicating with a broader Australian accent makes him a lot clearer to the vendor.
Adding a dash of good old fashioned musical theatre to the proceedings, the Showstoppers dazzle with their brand of improvised musicality. Drawing inspiration from a couple in the audience, the glee inspired cast create an immediate turnaround in the production of a musical as they re-enact a fictional narrative based on the couple. Cue Chicago-esque show tunes and cheesy storylines, the Showstoppers entertain with a sprinkle of jazz hands, hollywood smiles and snappy lyrical rhythms.
Animated and bawdy Vikki Stone‘s rendition of the aptly named the Cox Song,written for Physicist Brian Cox cheekily charms with lyrics full of science based puns and witty one liners. Stone then speaks of a song written for an ex, consisting of John Williams iconic Jurassic Park theme tune, with hints of Jaws 3 and Schindler’s List. An original way of serenading a partner, Stone then breaks into a repertoire of Dinosaur sounds, just to add an air of authenticity, with impersonations of a screeching Pterodactyl and a Triceratops.
John Robertson playfully interacts with the audience, comically commenting on a member of the crowd as he seemingly appears to leave the building whilst the comedian speaks of his appreciation of the crowd; a brilliant sense of perfect timing. Robertson takes notice of another audience member, nonchalantly sitting at the end of the row with his leg crossed on top his knee, at one point referencing the man as the Bermuda Triangle. Robertson randomly ends his set with a short song played on his Ukulele titled Kneecaps.
Andrew Maxwell concludes the Gala, taking the audience on a round trip across the globe with his impersonations of New Zealanders and Norwegians. Bringing the audience back to the capital, Maxwell’s visceral observations of the political inequalities resonate, his impersonations of the typical British Geezer and the concept of Geezer chat causing belly laughs. 4/5
The Udderbelly Opening Gala was on Thursday 10th April. For more information on this year’s Udderbelly Festival line up, visit here…