Hello Hammersmith Apollo! Oh, I wish I could be famous enough to address a crowd of that size in the Hammersmith Apollo. I’ve seen plenty of shows in London, so who knows one day it could actually be me on that stage. Alas, Ellen and I were sitting in the stalls after the <first show> waiting for the second episode to start filming! The series in total will feature 8 episodes, and going from social media, will feature the likes of Russell Kane, Roisin Conaty, Nina Conti, James Acaster, Dara O’ Briain and plenty more. However, one act that seemed to be attracting plenty of attention as I laid in bed and checked my social media was Nick Helm. According to Twitter, it was #hawkward and many people walked out. I spoke to some people on Twitter and they told me what it was like to be seeing Nick Helm at LATA.
@Milliesteps “Absolutely. It was strange… kept waiting for a punchline or if I’d missed the joke”.
@Martha_EmilyMae “We thought he might have been on something, but a few people in the stalls said he was drunk. He was reading jokes off his palms. At one point he serenaded a man with a poem and song in his face. His jokes made no sense, very much a shame”
So as you can see, clearly the performers at LATA can divide opinion and alienate an entire audience. It’ll be extremely interesting to see how Nick Helm comes across on the programme, and I cannot wait to watch the episode!
Anyway, back to the second episode that I was lucky enough to watch live, and what an absolute treat it was. The announcer said “Please welcome to the stage… Noel Fielding!” and Ellen and I looked at each other and genuinely could not believe how lucky we were. On the journey down, Ellen and I discussed who we think could have been on stage and Noel Fielding didn’t even come across our minds, so when he walked out on stage, it felt like we were very privileged to see his standup, just him, no full on Mighty Boosh production. Just him, being the zaniest comedian that the British public has grown to love. From researching LATA, he has never performed at Live at the Apollo, and Noel did a stellar job in ensuring that he told some stellar jokes as well as the truly wacky. Noel really worked the crowd from the offset, splitting us into the top shelf and bottom shelf. One of my favourite moments of the whole evening was when the “top shelf” had to cheer high and the “bottom shelf” had to cheer low. The cacophony of sounds that you could hear was so unpleasant, Ellen and I didn’t quite know what to do so just laughed. Pretty apt for a comedy gig, really.
Noel also discussed his appearance, in which he felt that he’s looking like a trendy art teacher. I can see where he’s coming from; in a black floral shirt and skinny jeans, I would wear that outfit myself. Noel also discussed how now he feels more comfortable walking with his hands behind his back, a way in which to distinguish himself into the mid-life crisis situation that was going on. He also couldn’t believe that most of the audience were under 40, fist pumping the audience in order to rejuvenate his long-lost youth and the times when he’d only walk with his hands behind his back if they were handcuffed because he was walking around with marijuana. Plenty of Noel’s set discussed the differences between the old and the young, and how schadenfreude in young people is not attractive. As well as this, Noel walked on stage and asked the audience “what is the worst electrical appliance to be?” to which he answered “a smoke alarm with no batteries”. His characterisation was top notch and it made me fall in love with him. I also came to realise that I genuinely love the silly comedy, and cheap jokes can sometimes be the best jokes.
Noel introduced the first act, and this was the only act of the evening that I knew was going to perform, based on my social media sleuthing. Noel welcomed Dane Baptiste to the stage, and he was a gem. His face was plastered all over my social media throughout the Edinburgh Fringe, so it was wonderful to see him perform his material live. Dane has performed as warmup for Katherine Ryan throughout her last tour and it’s clear to see why. Both their material perfectly complements each other, as they are both bitter and cheeky, yet you know that they are harmless people who just want to go on stage in order to entertain. Dane was a breath of fresh air for the whole night, commanding the stage in a casual outfit. He just gave straight stand up, and he was definitely my favourite surprise of the night! One of my favourite jokes of the whole evening came from Dane, in which he stated that he was on Live at the Apollo in order to fill a quota for diversity. Baring in mind the recent debacles with having at least one female on a comedy show, and encouraging multiculturalism within the BBC, the joke was so topical and just right. Everyone gave him a giant round of applause. The way in which Dane delivered this joke was also perfect. He stated it as an absolute matter of fact. Plenty of Dane’s material covered the fact that he was from Grenada, full of famous people but in particular Craig David. Throughout his set, he gave plenty of material, finishing it with the “took her for a drink on Tuesday, we were making love by Wednesday…” line. Absolutely perfect, and I definitely want to go and see Dane perform live in full! He’s actually coming to my hometown to tour, and NOBODY goes to my hometown to tour so he’s risen in my favourite comedians ranking for this fact alone.
Noel then greeted to the stage the delightful Al Porter, someone who I had once again heard of but never seen. Al Porter is only 22, yet he takes the stage as though he’s been performing since the foetus. He’s a gem, just like Dane, and bounced onto stage in a suit that for a moment confused him and Matt Forde in my head, but they’re totally different comedians. Matt Forde is political, Al Porter is OVERTLY sexual. Discussions of cheap ‘gags’ and blowjobs were all the rage in his set. Al seems like the type of guy where if you were to meet him in a pub, you’d be engaged in a conversation lasting hours about his life and his camp Irishness. At some points, he also reminded me of Aisling Bea which was great, as Aisling is one of my favourites. Within Al’s set, I particularly enjoyed the discussion of Don’t Tell the Bride. He discussed how idiotic the brides were in not talking to the groom about what they wanted from their wedding; something which I say to my Mum whenever I watch an episode. While this leads us onto the fact he is homosexual, Al Porter is a funny man, the fact he is gay just happens to be.
Unfortunately, I was unable to stay for the last 15 minutes of the show, as I had a train to catch to take me back home to Leamington Spa. I didn’t really want to stay in London, trapped like a battery chicken if I could help it. From what I’ve heard, Noel then did a bizarre sketch featuring some of the cast of the Mighty Boosh; which can’t be as weird as his ‘milk’ song, but I cannot wait to see this last bit live! I thoroughly enjoyed going to see Live at the Apollo, and I know that when tickets become available for next season, I’m going to apply and hopefully see even more incredible stand up. For now, I’ll leave you with one of Dane’s favourite songs which is now 15 years old, WHAT?: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFRbnCtLWAU