Comedy, Reviews, Niki Boyle

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Life After Beth

25 Jun 20144 stars

Superlative zombie dramedy starring Dane DeHaan, Aubrey Plaza, Anna Kendrick and John C Reilly

‘Imagine The Graduate, but with zombies.’ That seems to have been Jeff Baena’s brief for Life After Beth, a ‘zomromcom’ that couldn’t be further from the Shaun of the Dead vibe that label suggests. Dane DeHaan is expertly cast as Zach, a gothier version…

Calvary

27 Feb 20144 stars

Brendan Gleeson, Dylan Moran and Chris O'Dowd star in a thoughtful Catholic comedy-drama

Brendan Gleeson and John Michael McDonagh reteam following lacklustre 2011 comedy The Guard in this much more thoughtful examination of Catholic guilt. They're joined by the cream of Irish film and TV talent, including Chris O'Dowd, Dylan Moran, Aidan…

Dave Callan

13 Aug 20132 stars

Study of comedy from Irish-Australian comic that wanders from core subject

In his 1913 book The Psychology of Laughter, academic Boris Sidis delved into the psyche to analyse why we find things funny. In his show of the same name, Irish-Australian comic Dave Callan aims to bring to light Siris’ findings. While he succeeds in…

Blancanieves

26 Feb 20134 stars

1920s set silent take on the Snow White story, with seven bullfighting dwarves

It’s going to be difficult to get through a review of Blancanieves without mentioning The Artist, so let’s get it out of the way now. Both films are European, black and white, reduced format silent films in romanticised 20th century period settings.

Starbuck

28 Nov 20123 stars

Likeable but flawed comedy drama about a prolific sperm donor

David Wozniak (Patrick Huard) is a loser. He works – barely – at his dad’s butcher shop; he neglects his girlfriend Valerie (Julie LeBreton); he’s borrowed money from gangsters to start his own domestic pot farm, and is unable to pay it back. On top of…

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Witching and Bitching

27 Feb 20143 stars

Alex de la Iglesia's action-horror-comedy starts well but stumbles halfway through

Cult director Alex de la Iglesia owes a lot to Robert Rodriguez's From Dusk Till Dawn in this fast-paced action-horror-comedy. As with FDTD, Witching and Bitching picks up with a gang of crooks on the run following a heist. Instead of hiding out in a…

LFO

24 Feb 20143 stars

Lo-fi black comedy about a trance-inducing sound engineer

Maladjusted sound technician Robert (Patrik Karlson) has stumbled upon an amazing discovery: a sound frequency which immediately puts the listener into a hypnotic trance, susceptible to any suggestion they might hear. Armed with speakers, a pair of…

Comedian Rap Battles – The Stand, Glasgow, Wed 15 Jan 2014

16 Jan 20143 stars

A hit-and-miss night of comedic verbal jousting, featuring The Wee Man and Jellybean Martinez

The traditional rap battle has its roots in US inner-city playground game The Dozens, in which two opponents take turns to sling insults at each other (often but not always pertaining to the size or promiscuity of one’s momma). The game has been adapted…

Bill Burr – O2 Academy, Glasgow, Wed 4 Dec 2013

17 Dec 20133 stars

The US comedian struggles with venue difficulties but wins out overall

There are a couple of stumbling blocks on this first date of Bill Burr’s UK tour. Glasgow’s O2 Academy is a tad too expansive for a comedy gig, leading to problems with both sound quality and temperature (rather than complain about audience members…

DVD review: Sharknado

7 Oct 20132 stars

Seriously silly aquatic disaster flick starring Ian Ziering, Jaason Simmons and Tara Reid

Let’s acknowledge one thing from the off: Sharknado is only too aware of how trashy a film it is. The tagline reads, ‘Enough Said!’ The cast includes D-list stars from Baywatch (Jaason Simmons) and Beverly Hills 90210 (Ian Ziering). There’s a reliance…

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The Horne Section

27 Aug 20132 stars

Disappointing off night for the usually on-form Horne and his comedy-music hybrid

At one point early in tonight’s show, special guest James Walmsley (formerly of muso-comedy group Dead Cat Bounce) declares that ‘this hasn’t been rehearsed’. Unfortunately, this is more than obvious. Although there’s a certain sense of tightness…

Joke Thieves

20 Aug 20133 stars

A decent mixed line-up of performers nicking each other’s sets

The practise of joke-stealing is so frowned upon in modern comedy circles, it’s bewildering to think that it’s become the central concept in a show – and a successful one at that. On the evening of this sold-out performance (many audience members had to…

Brendon Burns & Colt Cabana

20 Aug 20133 stars

Enjoyable hour of wrestling-themed entertainment

Brendon Burns and Colt Cabana Sit in a Fifty-Seater Around Midnight and Provide the Commentary to Bad Wrestling Matches is, as Burns quickly points out, not a misleading title. Aussie comedian Burns is right at home with his audience of Lycra-loving…

Essential Tom Stade: 12 Nights Only!

20 Aug 20133 stars

Likeable re-run of old ideas

Remember Tom Stade’s early bit on Chinese casinos? How about the incendiary ‘Meat Van Guy’ sketch that broke him on McIntyre’s Road Show? If you loved these skits first time round and want to relive them, you’re in luck: Tom Stade is playing his…

The Bravery Test

20 Aug 20134 stars

Touching spoken-word comedy show about sibling worship

Angus Dunican is not your average stand-up. Not for him are casual observations about electrical appliances or the difference between the sexes. Instead, he litters his deeply personal story about growing up aspiring to be his brother with such astute…

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Seann Walsh

16 Aug 20133 stars

Some truly inspired moments amidst material very much by the numbers

There are a few moments in Seann Walsh’s set – which, predictably, is about how difficult blokes find it to grow up – where he seems to want more from his audience. He gestures to a guy in the front row who ‘hasn’t laughed since the wanking bit’; when…

Twonkey’s Blue Cadabra

14 Aug 20133 stars

More bizarre absurdity in Twonkey's latest journey to some very strange places

You have to be fully committed when you sign up for a Twonkey show. Through his frequent flights of bizarre absurdity, the man only occasionally known as Paul Vickers (of The Leg and John Peel favourites Dawn of the Replicants) will take you on a…

Lee Kern: Bitter Twitter

13 Aug 20132 stars

Wannabe blue-badged Twitter elite

Like many social networkers among us, Lee Kern is a man who both embraces technology and resents it. He wants to be one of the blue-badged Twitter elite: a genuine, verifiable celebrity who swaps jokes with his A-list cronies and can generate 400…

Brendon Burns Hasn't Heard of You Either

8 Aug 20133 stars

Warm but scattershot hour of candid comedy

Despite what you may have heard – about the loudness, the swearing, the inappropriate comments regarding disability – it’s hard not to warm to this older, perhaps slightly softened version of Brendon Burns. No longer the bullet-headed bull of old, he…

The Dark Room

6 Aug 20134 stars

Hilarious YouTube skit made flesh by John Robertson

’You awake to find yourself in a dark room.’ Fans of John Robertson will be familiar with the refrain that plagues his fiendishly difficult – some say impossible-to-complete – tribute to the text-based adventure games of early 1980s computer gaming…

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Knightmare Live!

5 Aug 20133 stars

Patchy but enjoyable nostalgic throwback

Full disclosure: I was an avid watcher of Knightmare in my youth; am a follower of the official Facebook group; bought Fringe tickets as soon as a stage adaptation was announced; and contributed to the production’s Kickstarter funding campaign, earning…

About Time

28 Jun 20133 stars

Richard Curtis’ time travelling romantic dramedy is an enjoyable, if familiar, return to form

Things weren’t looking good for Richard Curtis for a while there. Love Actually was tepid slush; The Boat That Rocked sunk. The witty scribe behind Blackadder and Four Weddings lost his mojo entirely whenever he occupied the director’s chair, and we…

Spring Breakers

22 Feb 20131 star

Harmony Korine's ludicrously bad drama about four girls gone wild on spring break

Incoherent, brash and self-consciously 'arthouse' in execution, Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers is an intriguing cinematic spectacle: an awful film that seems aware – nay, aggressively boastful – of its own awfulness. It follows a quartet of…

The History of Future Folk

22 Feb 20133 stars

Charming but slight sci-fi music comedy in the vein of Flight of the Conchords

Cosmic-folk twosome Future Folk started life on the underground New York music scene, playing acoustic guitar-and-banjo tunes with sci-fi lyrics to crowds of bemused punters. The gentle whimsy and a focus on music rather than jokes puts their foot…

John Dies at the End

20 Feb 20133 stars

Self-conciously bizarre cult comedy offering from director Don Coscarelli

Penned by Senior Editor at Cracked.com David Wong (real name Jason Pargin), the 2009 novel John Dies at the End was a comedy-horror tornado of cultural references, paranormality and winking self-awareness. Cult filmmaker Don Coscarelli (Phantasm, Bubba…