Review: Live at The Works ★★★★
Simon Amstell headlines a queer night of comedy at a venue still lacking a bit of soul…
With some sublime counter-programming, the latest Live at The Works comedy night – boasting a thoroughly queer line-up – coincided with the England men’s football team departing from the World Cup in Qatar. Whether by luck or by judgement, this night represented an out-and-proud two fingers up to all that nonsense – and if there were any football fans in the audience, at least they had a distraction from the inevitable disappointment!
Simon Amstell was the headline draw, and undoubtedly a good number of the punters who made their way down to Woolwich were there for him. But To Do List is all about new voices, and we were excited to see some of the brightest, up-and-coming stars of the stand-up comedy scene.
Our emcee for the evening was Thanyia Moore, whose job it was, essentially, to overcome some of the venue’s shortcomings. Woolwich Works in an impressive space, but it lacks soul – even with a healthy turnout, the atmosphere tends towards that of a gathering in a Garden Centre cafe. It’s such a cavernous space – ideal for darts! – that, despite some snazzy furnishing, it lacks the intimacy you want from a stand-up venue. A few small tweaks would make the world of difference: less lighting on the audience, for a start. And would it be too much to ask for more than one bar for an audience of this size?
So, it is a credit to Moore that she quickly has the audience in the palm of her hand, deploying an assured way with audience work which always feels warm and never exploitative. We’d have liked to hear some more of her own material, but as a link between acts she couldn’t have done a better job.
Rising star Leo Reich gave us an assured 20-minute teaser for his massively successful ‘Literally Who Cares?!’ show – all Gen-Z obnoxiousness and whiny self-absorption, interspersed with some slick comedy songs. There’s the confidence that comes with having received great reviews this last year, though anyone who caught his appearance on the recent Friday Night Live will have heard a lot of this material before.
Daniel Foxx’s set builds nicely towards an angry deconstruction of the story of Peter Pan, the sort of set-piece comedy routine that can make a career. It’s not groundbreaking stuff, but it’s clever and naughty and with a broad enough appeal to work with lots of different audiences.
And then there’s our star of the show, Kemah Bob. We were glad to catch her here, as we couldn’t make it to the recent recording of FOC It Up! Comedy Club at Shoreditch Town Hall. This is a barnstorming set, delivered with the confidence of someone who knows they’ve got some solid-gold material – even the new stuff that Kemah chucks out at the end. If you saw Kemah in the recent Dave TV series Live At The Moth Club (she was the best thing in the first episode), make sure to catch a full show, or listen to the FOC It Up! podcast – you won’t regret it.
I am Joint Editor at To Do List. I like: nice pubs, film marathons, not doing real marathons, bad comedy, plays/musicals with shorter second halves, and the Oxford comma.