Hilarity Charity Gala with Rhod Gilbert, Daniel Kitson, Aisling Bea and more, Wolverhampton Grand Theatre - review
One word sums up the shenanigans at Wolverhampton’s Grand Theatre last night more than any other – chaos.
Not negative chaos however, it was the kind of loud and frantic activity that was fun, spontaneous, mind-boggling entertainment.
It could also have left you scared and sobbing into your hands. This must have been what it was like inside the mind of Mr Blobby.
From Daniel Kitson’s unique and ad-hoc compering to shirtless comedians invading the stage to celebrate England’s World Cup penalty shoot-out victory over Columbia happening simultaneously. Nobody could guess what was coming next.
This was all for a good cause of course, as these top drawer comedians were in the city to help raise funds for the Wolverhampton’s Central Youth Theatre.
Returning host Kitson brought the crowd into play, commenting on individuals watching the England drama on their phones or finding members of the audience who were willing to heckle other hecklers for their 15 seconds of in-the-dark fame.
He was brilliantly warm, and the audience couldn't help but love his awkwardness and the way he got everyone on his side despite insulting us all. The show is hilarious and worth coming back to watch each year.
First up was Ivo Graham, who led us through the pitfalls of holidaying with your parents at the age of 27.
Deadpan and dry, his Jack Dee-like vocal approach split the audience like a dollop of Marmite. Mostly, though, he hit home.
Alex Horne was next, and his set just had to be seen for his remarkable and zany Justin Timberlake beatbox segment.
Like Bill Bailey, he took us on a wondrous journey through various songs that dumbfounded yet mesmerised.
Closing the first half of the night was Irish actress and comedian Aisling Bea, who had some unique tips on improving the mating part of a relationship.
A strong feminine voice, she also touched upon the irony of how men could possibly be scared of strong, funny women when there are plenty more dangers for her to avoid while walking around at night.
With people continuing to drink during the interval, the wild aspects of the crowd were ramped up when Kitson returned and introduced us to John Kearns.
The biggest miss of the night, his character performance just didn’t connect with the audience and its weirdness had people talking among themselves rather than engaging with him.
Then the news rippled through the room that England faced another dreaded penalty shootout. Here things really went wild, with Kitson and headliner Rhod Gilbert relaying each kick to us as the crowd whooped, cheered and gasped with each announcement.
Luckily for Gilbert, once the topless stage invasion had dissipated, England had won. It would have been a toxic crowd for the angry Welshman if they hadn’t.
He had everyone in stitches as he took us inside the mind of his Karl Pilkington-esque driver. Some of his convictions just have to be heard to be believed.
It was a great night full of planned and off-the-cuff laughter. Perhaps the weirdest Hilarity Charity Gala yet, it was laugh-out-loud from start to finish.