Forum Theatre, Malvern – 27 March 2020
When it involves my infatuation with live comedy, much like Romeo in his pursuit of Juliet, I am not afraid to flout the stalking laws. Following one such love-in with a seasoned comedian of the circuit, I impertinently asked – “who is the naturally funniest comedian you have met and worked with?” –consequently, the answer was so swift that the pre-considered response has stuck in my mind for an epoch: ladies and gentlemen, “that foul- mouthed Yank”…Rich Hall.
Rich Hall is both funny and natural in front of his audience. His world weary persona and hangdog expression belie the warmth and humour on offer; Hall’s projected grouchiness evokes the quiet grumpiness of Jack Dee (@ the Forum, following a reschedule!) and Like Mr. Dee, Mr. Hall will tackle any subject he deems fit. From discussing the Presidential Impeachment in terms a ten year old would understand to explaining why we shouldn’t eat a pangolin: “it has tiles on the outside, for Christ’s sake!” This last aside meant the original joke went viral in the busy Forum Dome…
The huge turn out on a chilly and potentially weather-challenging evening is evidence of Hall’s comedic capabilities: he can regulate dopamine levels with seeming consummate ease!
For the second half of his Hoedown Deluxe, Rich Hall and his band return to the Forum stage to lampoon the Country style of music. Comedy is an inexact science but lampooning the Country style of music must be an open goal of an opportunity. Hall admits that some of his songs, celebrating a mythical rural lifestyle, only took five minutes to write. However, when the band themselves are laughing along and the lady alongside me is howling like a lonely coyote and believe me she was not alone, then clearly the humour is hitting the bullseye as easy as hitting a cow’s backside with a banjo. The spontaneous complementary clapping that coincided with the more animated ditties added to the midweek madness (don’t forget that Suggs brings his version of Madness on October the 23rd) and the crowd participation singalongs were celebrated like an unexpected snow day at school.
Rich Hall is schooled in the art of making people laugh. I once asked him if he is ever intimidated about walking out on to the stage: “No, not now, I have been doing this for too long and besides people deserve a good night out.” Well, Mr Hall Sir, you have qualified with distinction as this was a very good night out; the lady next to me, limp from laughing and forced to holding her stomach from sustained guffawing was more than was satisfied with her night out and believe me she was not alone.
By: Nicholas David Burford
Photo by Roddy Hand