The front parlour of Benjamin Franklin’s House in Craven Street just off the Strand was the unlikely but familiar setting for a comedy evening last night. Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, was also one of that country’s greatest scientists, philosophers and inventors. He lived in this house for almost 16 years. It makes for a decent venue at decent value, with a glass of wine costing only £2.
The first half of the show started when Radio 4 and News Quiz veteran Robin Ince arrived on stage with a carrier bag, the contents of which he emptied onto the floor. Ince has an enormous amount of energy, talking non-stop for his entire performance. Quoting from random press cuttings, he tackled outer space, technology, politics, the celebrity culture and Blake’s 7. It's always refreshing to see a comedian who makes you think about your life without being crude or offensive.
The second act couldn’t have been more different. American Lewis Schaffer was controversial, some might say racist, right from the start. Starting his act with a tirade against the English (who made up the majority of the audience), and then singling out the one mixed-race person in the room was self-destructive and unforgiveable. Three people walked out. Benjamin Franklin would have been turning in his grave.
The next comedy night will be in September but in the meantime you can visit the museum and enjoy its Historical Experience, which brings the House to life.
By Joanna Moncrieff. Image by isriya reproduced under Creative Commons license.