Karen Koren: Bailey’s top of the bill anywhere

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THERE are more than 95 comics touring the UK this autumn. Are there enough audiences to go around?

Personally I am looking forward to Bill Bailey’s tour, which thankfully is not in any 10,000 seat venues but more sensible 3000-5000 seaters. Who would have thought we would ever say that? Comedy has always been at its best in an intimate setting, not in huge warehouse-style arenas.

Bill is performing at the Playhouse on November 16. Of course, he could sell it three or four times over, extremely talented as he is.

Is the comedy establishment getting above themselves, though? Does stand-up work in a 10,000 seater? I suppose it all boils down to the quality of the comic. If a comedian is funny, interesting and profound over a two-hour show, then certainly it is worth it.

However, if they are just telling us about their family and how wonderful it is to become famous and what stars they’ve met since making it, well, I find that boring.

Surely anything in an arena should be a spectacle, more than one little man who you can only see on the big screens or with a pair of binoculars.

Glad to say Jason Manford has not succumbed to such large arenas yet, though he is heading that way. I had lunch with him the other day and he was saying that it is incredible how quickly the fame thing has all taken off.

He thoroughly enjoyed doing Show Me The Funny on TV and loves doing stand-up to large crowds, though it is important for him to chat to the audience and get to know them a bit – hard to do in an arena, as at least 9000 people feel left out.

So maybe Live At The Apollo and the McIntyre Roadshow are doing comedy a disservice. They help comics sell out their tours but after performing to such huge numbers, what about their material? They can’t keep churning out the same stuff, like bands do. They have to write more, which is fine if they have the talent, but many will fall by the wayside, I fear.