Reviewer: Jay Nuttall
Why should stand-up comedy only be for adults? Stand-up comedy for children is not a new phenomenon. Standard at the Edinburgh Festival it is an art form that is still quite rare outside the Scottish capital in August. The Lowry have been programming Comedy Club 4 Kids since 2005 and it is a fantastic thing for children and their adults to be able share an hour of laughter together.
Of course, the topics and language you would find in any ‘adult’ comedy club is cut from the material of the comics but there is a whole new level of risqué for an audience of 6+. We all know many children’s favourite words are bum, poo and farts and this is very much the tone for the hour of comedy. Indeed, for a professional comedian an audience of unabashed and uninhibited children may very well be a far worse prospect than a midnight show in front of a drunken comedy club. The comedians must not only adapt and pitch their material appropriately but also know it inside out so that the inevitable distractions from the unusual audience doesn’t throw them entirely.
Compère of the show is the very sparkly Kiri Pritchard Mclean. Nominated by comedy website Chortle as compère of the year in 2016 and 2017 she won the title in 2018 – so there can be no accusations that this comedy bill for children is booking second rate comedians. Adorned in a glittery leotard and gold shoes she immediately takes charge of the room and becomes the slightly crazy woman with the microphone – a perfect combination. Doing the usual birthday rounds she finds gold in asking the children to suggest superhero names and powers she could adopt as a stage persona. ‘Sparkle Pants’ she may have been christened but she was very unlikely to “blend into the background” as one child sought, especially after attempting an ill-advised impromptu gymnastic splits!
First comedian Paul Duncan McGarrity announces himself as an archaeologist and quickly asks the children what that actually means. Interested in all things historical he has some good material about the etymology of first names, especially his own. And later in his set revealing unusual jobs from the past is reminiscent of Horrible Histories. Second comedian Nick Doody has a great opening few minutes fooling that his microphone is stuck on several foreign language settings. As he makes his way through French, German, Dutch, Greek and Japanese he boldly declares that he is starting to look like he is showing off! Doody’s material is perhaps pitched to the older children in the audience as he regales stories of his, perhaps, fictional yet terrifying Grandma and her scary bedtime nursery rhymes. But his set quickly gets back to the tried and tested children’s favourite of anything disgusting.
At times the comics gave too much free reign and lost control of the young audience who have no problem with heckling as much as they can. And with a running time of around 50 minutes there was a feeling of being a little short-changed. Do not go if you feel a headache coming on but do go if you have children over the age of six who have never seen stand-up comedy.
Reviewed on Sunday 8thApril 2018. | Image: Contributed