ComedyRadio & PodcastsReviewSouth East

BRIGHTON FRINGE: It Just So Happened: An Alternative History Show – Brighton Toy and Model Museum

Reviewer: Isabella Crawley

Host: Richard Pulsford

A quirky history podcast with a friendly splash of humour,It Just So Happened: An Alternative Historyoffers a calmer comedy experience amid the whirlwind of Brighton Fringe.

WhileIt Just So Happenedsells itself as a history/comedy hybrid show, and our host (Richard Pulsford) boasts a number of comedy accolades. However, it is the history side of proceedings that are the main focus. The comedy itself is less showy and more wordy – it’s not stand-up as much as “sit-down” comedy. Pulsford and today’s three guest performers (regular Richie Rands, history expert Arna Spek, and last-minute replacement Michael Coxon) are seated before us in a panel-discussion type set-up, clutching their notes, ready to fill us in on the events of May 27th across history. It’s a casual atmosphere as we settle into the handful of seats that have been set up in the Brighton Toy and Model Museum (a venue that is certainly more historical than humorous). Glancing around at the cases upon cases of model trains, cars, and other vintage delights, the pre-show anticipation is less that of a dazzling alternative comedy show qnd more that of a very exciting school trip.

The first half of the show goes to the guest performers which, unfortunately, is rushed along a little by Pulsford’s fretting about the time. The sets are genuinely interesting and pleasantly different from each other both in content and style. Rands gives us a rehearsed noir piece about famous writer Dashiell Hammett, Spek’s genuinely impressive historical knowledge from over a decade working in London museums covers a wide swathe of English history, and even Coxon – who was recruited last minute due to illness – has an amusing piece on Paul Gascoigne and his historical significance. While not laugh-out-loud funny, these guest sets are genuinely interesting and it’s a shame they don’t get more time with their own material.

The second half is led by Pulsford and largely takes the form of a quizzing his guests on historical questions they could not possibly guess. While they make a good go of giving amusing answers and sometimes chip in with related historical knowledge, the guest performers don’t get much of a chance to shine in this section. The comedy is largely confined to the first half of the show and the second half is much closer to a traditional history panel/podcast. It is interesting to listen to, but there is more fun to be had in the comedy pieces of the first half.

For those who have emerged, bewildered and blinded by the bright lights of Spiegeltent or the thumping music at the Caravanserai, It Just So Happened is a pleasant hour to settle into, take a breath, and hear an unexpected story or two.

Reviewed on 27 May 2023

The Reviews Hub Score

Light-hearted and friendly

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