Comedy on a Razor’s Edge

Last night I was lucky enough to get some free tickets to see Ali Cook, the comedian cum magician, of Five’s Monkey Magic and Sky One’s Secret World of Magic amongst others, performing at one of Lee Hurst’s regular comedy nights at the Fym Fig bar in Bethnal Green.

Topping and tailing the bill were James Dowdeswell and Alistair Barrie. James was an awkward, geeky looking guy who seemed (as he mentioned himself) like he’d just emerged from a 1970s Open University programme. I did enjoy his material, focusing on his lazy eye (can you see what I’ve done there?) and his views on living south of the river, but I think that the audience were just warming up at this point, because there were a few deathly silences during his monologue… I wouldn’t mind seeing him again though. Alastair’s material was very sharp, observant and incisive in a decidedly ‘London metrosexual’ style – all a bit blue and at times a bit ranty but that obviously chimed with the audience – I certainly got where he was coming from. Mind you I wasn’t convinced by his ‘girlfriend’ material at all *cough*

My main reason for being there on the night was to see Ali’s act, and I was a bit dissapointed to see him sandwiched between the other two comedians – personally, I think his act is good enough to headline – it is definitely the one that made a distinct impression on the audience!

To give you a flavour of what I’m talking about, his jokes are in such bad taste that you’ll feel guilty and ashamed that you find them funny – memorable is the one about a guy wanting to make his girlfriend feel like a princess on her birthday (he’s bought her a car crash as a present…) and when it comes to his magic act, Ali is the Magic Circle’s equivalent of Freddie Kruger. Small defenseless creatures are dismembered for his own amusement and his finale, a deliberately clumsy razor-blade swallowing act, drew more gasps of disbelief and horror than laughs, but its not something you’ll forget in a hurry. I’d love to describe it in more detail, but I can’t because I spent most of the time staring at the floor or peeping through my hands. Let’s just say that the stage was slick with blood and gore by the end, and it’s still making me shiver and feel a bit sick while I write about it (OK, I’m pretty sure that the entire thing consisted of a complex series of sleights of hand, but it certainly didn’t look that way at the time!). If you like your comedy raw and you get the opportunity to see Ali at work, then go – you won’t be dissapointed!

I will just add one final note on the evening’s compere, Lee Hurst. I haven’t seen him for quite a while but he hasn’t lost his touch – he had the audience rolling in the aisles whenever he was on stage. I even got in on the action, along with all the other baldies in the audience! Lee is hosting a New Year’s Eve one-man show at the club which should be a barrel of laughs, and you can get hold of tickets for the event here.