So among the many themed nights that have arisen in recent years, we’ve had stand-up performed in the dark or without a script or through the medium of rap. But perhaps the most audacious of the bunch is Joke Thieves.
Conceived and hosted by Will Mars, the idea is to have six comics split into three pairs: each act performs a selection of their own material which their allocated partner later tackles in any manner they so choose. For the show’s Stand debut, such tackling was substituted for hanging, drawing and quartering, not only of their counterpart’s material, but their personality, looks, dress sense and very existence on this planet.
Proceedings started amiably enough with the sextet delivering universally fine mini-sets, but come the second half, all hell broke loose. It might take years of couple counselling before Jo Caulfield and Mark Nelson ever speak to each other again, so gleefully savage were their very personal assaults upon one another. The sparring between Andrew Doyle and Jojo Sutherland, and the jocular jousting of Keir McAllister and Dr George Ryegold were almost playful by comparison, even if subjects such as incest and pornography were aired.
The beauty of this show is that it allows you to see comics deconstructing each other’s acts while at the same time taking each other’s material in new directions. Throw in some seriously caustic barbs and you have a truly electric night.
Rating: * * * *