Like the Centre Pompidou and roadkill, new material comedy nights are fun because you get to see all the guts on the outside. Comedians have to test out new jokes somewhere and yesterday the Amused Moose comedy club chose to inaugurate its cosy new venue above the Arts Theatre near Leicester Square with a packed night — 12 comics including surrealist superstar Noel Fielding — offering up freshly-minted gags for a lively and (mostly) sympathetic young crowd.
These types of show make for a fascinating evening as the comedians deconstruct their own work, mark themselves out loud and in some cases implode with hilarious self-consciousness. Fielding himself, trying to work through a routine about herbal teabags being boiled alive, was on two tracks here — both practicing the shtick and telling the audience what a pervert he was for enjoying the struggle of getting through it. Not that his admission of “a nervous breakdown” and the subsequent masochistic glee he took in it indicated a weak set — his accidentally-on-purpose po-mo take on himself was eminently watchable and very funny.
Most of the other established acts on the bill demonstrated similar face-saving charisma whenever a joke careered off the track. Carl Donnelly got stuck on the word ‘udders’ as he mounted a surprisingly clever defence of Page 3; Joey Page took us on an idiosyncratic odyssey into space until realising he didn’t have an ending; and Tania Edwards, unable to read her own notes, ended up dying with all the grace of a prima ballerina in Swan Lake (and yes that is a genuine compliment).
Those who smashed it without stumbling included three notable up-and-comers: Archie Maddox, who extracted big laughs from street magic and race relations; Stephanie Lange who took us through some favourite sex noises; and Ellie Taylor on the potential joys of laying eggs. Also impressive was veteran Hattie Hayridge who explored the tricky territory of age and Alzheimer’s.
Yesterday’s launch promises more good stuff to come.
Amused Moose hosts shows on Saturdays and Mondays in the Above The Arts space at the Arts Theatre between Leicester Square and Covent Garden. There are also shows on Fridays at the plush cinema in the Sanctum Soho Hotel. For more information see the Amused Moose website.