Review: The Stand Christmas Special, The Stand

Comedian Joe Heenan gets into the Christmas spirit
Comedian Joe Heenan gets into the Christmas spirit
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***

DECORATIONS, carol singers and now apparently The Stand’s Christmas Special turn up earlier every year.

The club’s Yuletide celebrations took place last night and while it was far from a silent night it also, with the exception of one gift, scored a little low on the merriment scale.

Host Joe Heenan had an easy job with a crowd packed with female students already full of white wine and Christmas cheer, but he still pulled out some good material, particularly on his specialist subject – movies. His impressions of Al Pacino and Christopher Walken as disturbing Santas were funny, impressive and not right in just the right way.

Opener Antony Murray’s laid-back style was probably a little too laconic for this crowd, but he still managed to squeeze a few laughs out of them, particularly with his list of colourful weegie insults levelled at his unruly mop of curly hair.

Eleanor Morton also failed to set the room alight, a pity as she possessed an engaging stage presence and some very enjoyable and quirky observational songs. Lack of laughs made her push too hard at one point but by the end she’d turned things around.

The silver lining for Murray and Morton was that they went on before the comedy tsunami that was Andrew Stanley.

It’s rare, outside of the Fringe, to see a comic so clearly destined for the top, but with astonishingly good observational material delivered and timed to perfection there’s no doubt about the destination of the young Irishman’s career.

Gavin Webster did have to follow that and, experienced trooper that he is, he gave it his best shot, telling proper gags, some of them superb and all delivered with his trademark mix of rage and bewilderment. On any other night he would have been the best thing on the bill.

Barring the paper hats, the snoring relatives and the lingering smell of overcooked sprouts this show was like a Christmas lunch, only unfortunately at this table there was one enormous cracker and a far too many leftovers.