A leg-up for new stand-up
There’s something about stand-up comedy that is simply exhilarating: the feeling of a combative audience lying in wait — Billy Connolly calls it “the animal” — followed by those first vital, anxious moments of exchange, and the sheer electricity that sustains the whole thing.
This new BBC series of stand-up specials presents the stars of the future, most unknown here — so far, at least. It’s a bit of a relief not to have to stare at those same comic heads that now seem so tired from all that exposure on the British panel shows that seem to dominate ABC programming.
The British stand-up scene is a hotbed of creativity that attracts the most distinctive comic voices from around the world. In this series some of those acts join local British comedians in the intimate setting of the art deco BBC Radio Theatre, a nod to the BBC’s rich comedy heritage, a place where much contemporary radio humour Live From the BBC is still produced. It’s a lovely space too, a simple raised stage and only a few coloured lanterns like large Chinese balloons in red and mauve lighting the sole performer.
In this premiere episode, award-winning comedian Nish Kumar (“I’m a British Asian gentleman”) discusses the benefits of having an ethnically problematic appearance (“the voice of Downton Abbey and the face of Homeland”), reveals the true extent of his pessimistic tendencies and is caustically funny retelling his problems with airport security.
Joining him is rather sweetly droll Canadianborn Mae Martin (“Did everyone have a good childhood?”) doing her take on so-called “identity humour”, who gives us her pithy observations on living as a legal alien in London and what her prim parents make of it all. Saturday, 8.45pm, ABC Two
The sweetly droll Canadian-born comic Mae Martin performs on