THE house was packed to the rafters, boiling hot and full of sniggers — even before the show started.
It’s rare to see a top-class comedy show at the Kenton — the last one I recall was Marcus Brigstocke some years ago — but something is happening at our bijou theatre. The programming team seems to be upping its game, and managed to procure this preview show for Punt and Dennis’ 2014 national tour. Apparently stand-up comedians often do this to “test out” their material, while the audience gets to see a top-notch professional show at a fraction of the price. Everyone’s a winner.
Hugh Dennis was instantly recognisable as soon as he walked on stage — he plays the dad in sitcom Outnumbered and is a regular panelist on Mock The Week — and though his partner Steve Punt is not such a familiar face the crowd still went wild.
We were informed that the show was a “work in progress” but even though they had their scripts in hand, the comedy was still seamless. That’s probably unsurprising since they’ve been working together for a long time, starting out as one half of The Mary Whitehouse Experience.
Punt opened the show with a gag about canned laughter and used the audience’s “ha-ha” noises as an example of how silly and unrealistic it can sound. A simple gag, but then there’s nothing like listening to other people’s weird laughs to make you laugh. Dennis then conducted us to laugh in a “Mexican wave” formation, using his finger as a baton, waving it from left to right across the stalls and up to the top balcony. More hilarity ensued.
The duo discussed the abundance of shows on TV today, encouraging us to venture away from the safe terrestrial channels and perhaps try a more adventurous channel like ITV3+1 (which of course, is the same as ITV 4). Their TV food programme sketch was hilarious. Hugh Dennis’ acting and timing was impeccable — I have never before seen anyone do such a realistic impression of a drunk.
I was expecting the show to be heavy with political satire but it wasn’t. The humour was just as relevant to the younger members of the audience as well as the older, and the elderly gentleman in front of me was laughing at the same jokes as us.
This comedy preview was a first for the Kenton, and a real treat. More of the same, please!
Punt and Dennis
Thursday, December 5