December 9-11. Dhs140. Various time and venues including McGettigan’s JLT, Bonnington Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Cluster J.
What happens when an Irishman, Somalian and Mancunian walk into a bar? It sounds like the start of a joke right, similar to the one with Paddy Irishman, Paddy Scotsman and Paddy Englishman… but it wasn’t a joke, it was The Laughter Factory’s December line-up.
Alex Boardman, Prince Abdi (he’s not of noble blood and he isn’t an iconic American singer, just in case you were wondering) and Paddy Lennox might not be the most recognisable names in the world of comedy, but they certainly held their own on The Laughter Factory’s stage over the weekend – a stage that has previously hosted top comics Jason Manford, Frankie Boyle and Micky Flanagan. Having run in the city for 20 years, the long-standing night is known for bringing top international comedians from the UK, Ireland, the US and Canada every month.
Manchester-born stand-up Alex Boardman opened the show at The Baggot in McGettigan’s JLT. The venue’s low ceilings and layout are ideal for the gig – making it feel like a cellar or bunker according to Paddy Lennox. Attendance on opening night was quieter than usual, with around 50 people in the intimate space. Although numbers were small, the atmosphere was lively and interactive – sort of like watching your dad and nan perform Charades at Christmas in the sitting room – and a little awkward, but comical none-the-less. To avoid any tumbleweed moments, the promoters asked the audience to move forward and fill up the front rows, which the crowd happily agreed to.
That’s the thing about comedy, a show’s success not only lies in the comedians’ ability to make us laugh, but in the audience’s reaction and interaction. At The Laughter Factory, crowds are welcoming and usually consist of a mix of nationalities, although it’s mainly dominated by British expats. Boardman, arriving on stage rather informally, quickly sensed this, had a bit of a wander around and commented on the “ridiculously Christmassy” decorations that surrounded him, immediately engaging with the audience. The front row played host to a couple from the Maldives, two middle-aged men from London (proper Cockneys) a new mother and a “training wife” – we still don’t know what that means, housewife? Wife in training? Who knows.
Once the crowd were warmed up, Boardman continued to test the waters to see how far his blokey, crude humour could go. This involved a discussion on relationships and married life (to which he said he’d built a conservatory just to avoid his wife, which went down well with the married folk), before he moved onto the topic of divorce (Londoners who were probably divorced could be seen cackling along) and how Tony is his best friend for life, not his wife (a joke that entertained a group of twenty-something lads). The comic managed to get a few laughs, mainly from men-folk, as some topics were just too laddish for female members of the audience. But overall, he appeared more like a support act to the acts who followed.
Each comic performed for about 30 minutes, with two 15-minute intervals in between – a bit unnecessary. The ’90s trance music that was pumped out loudly during the break was a bit random, too, and didn’t really fit in at the Irish venue. Christmas songs would have been welcome.
Next on stage was British Somali comedian Prince Abdi, whose witty humour and hilarious anecdotes about life in London as an immigrant family had everyone laughing. His tale about pretending to be a Somali pirate and a blind man to escape a teenage gang proved his delivery and timing hit the right notes. Last on stage was Northern Irish stand-up Paddy Lennox, who seemed at ease in the Irish bar and provided a laugh a minute with his accurate impressions of cats and dogs and impersonations of middle class Brits. So what happens when an Irishman, Somalian and Mancunian walk into a bar? Everyone has a right good time.
The bottom line A funny and interactive show.