With the place packed out to the brim, the sold out event being one of Brighton's biggest comedy nights of the year was back at the Dome- the perfect venue for a hilariously engaging evening. Headlining this time was the characteristically deadpan genius, James Acaster, of whom Fin Taylor, Celya AB and Tadiwa Mahlunge preceded, with the addition of Felicity Ward filling in as an excellent host for the evening.
Bounding out on stage, smooth in style and immediately setting the electric tone throughout the auditorium, Felicity- nodding at the fact she wasn't in the original line up, but was simply 'available'- gave a strong entrance, and began the flurry of location-based jokes that were continued in their own way by each comedian going forward: Brighton is certainly an easy punchline in a vast number of scenarios! Talking to the audience, her adlib interactions prove funny in themselves, while meeting some great characters in the front row, and picking on the latecomers. Although these chats perhaps went on a little longer than needed, and it would've been nice to here more of Felicity's own material, it was skilful to hear her navigate these conversations with some thankfully interesting people, and playing on their quirks!
Each act brought something different and exciting to the plate, with the variety notably commendable. Opening with an instant punch at the former (brief) Prime Minister, Fin Taylor goes on to discuss the means of feminism, and - often with a passionate anger- the struggles of bringing up a child, dealing with frustrating scenarios, or existing on the same planet as those who ride e-scooters. Despite some crude bouts and risky comments, some quips are undoubtedly relatable (such as schools being the breeding ground for all kinds of bizarre illnesses) and his comedic standpoints on mental health were only the first of several over the course of the night.
Before introducing the next guest, Felicity returned and built on the bisexual vegetarian trope by saying Quorn so many times, it didn't even sound like a real word anymore. Then, Celya AB took to the stage, and further shone upon the talents of females in comedy. Speaking of her move from Paris, to the delightful suburbs of Birmingham, while having Algerian heritage, she mocks our weird culture with some unbelievably brilliant nods to the odd but quintessentially British values we hold: from croissants, to office jacket potatoes, to quiches. Celya's bubbly and infectious personality was a triumph, and the fluidity of her delivery to match. Best of luck to her finding someone to date that wasn't an 'almost professional footballer'!
Next, after a little more audience talk with Felicity, newcomer Tadiwa Mahlunge brings some colonialism content where the UK is rightfully subject to a grilling again that tie into his Zimbabwean roots. Race and heritage is a big factor for his set, while discussing living in Wales and his mother's influences, before sharing experiences of his morally questionable previous employers; setting up nicely for the final act of the evening.
James Acaster is met with rapturous applause, as the deadpan comic emerges to describe Disney vloggers. Using the space for storytelling, it is evident that he could talk about anything, and would have the audience in the palm of his hand. This random sketch is followed by some seemingly emotionally vulnerable content for James, as his talk about the anxiety he faces is woven into a narrative about his Nan and her spinning wheel. Mentioning hecklers and their profound effect when it goes wrong, it's clear that while interwoven with humour, his message to be kind to ourselves and one another, is actually an important one to take away. Finishing off on a lighter note, James' set ends the event, and overall, wanting more from each stand up connoisseur.
With a single mic light up the room, some of the comedy displayed during Live at Brighton Dome was outstanding and thoroughly enjoyed, and it will be a real treat to see who will be performing at the next one.