Rich Hall at Northern Stage
If I knew what the word “laconic” meant, I’m sure I’d apply it to Rich Hall, whose laid-back approach to the comedy of contemporary anxiety sheds a murky light on those trivial details and connections that add flavour to the business of being alive. Just how much do you hate the person in front of you in a queue for coffee? (Answer – an unfeasible amount.) How much would you like a Bruce Springsteen concert to be enlivened by a donkey basketball match, or to hear an Elvis impersonator who neither sounds nor looks like the King sing an unmemorable song about baking clams? Hall’s comedy is about the fly in the ointment, the inexplicable absurdity of personalised coffee, life-long guarantees, artisan-crafted toilet brushes and singing a song to the mighty Ouseburn. He sings quite a lot of songs, the second half of his set being a musical extravaganza involving several guitars and a selection of ditties apparently riffing spontaneously on the random information he’s pried out of the front row of the audience . (“So what do you do?”, “Nothing”.) I’ve no idea whether he really spends the interval putting these together at superhuman speed, but the results are disarmingly collusive and downright hilarious, with a dry style of delivery that tells you this is just the sort of thing you should expect from life. The number that combines memories of a neighbour’s marital break-down with thoughts of a vinyl pork chop dog toy just about says it all – and it’s all good.