REVIEW: Hall Cruttenden and Pierre Novellie get big laughs out of life’s little problems

Hal Cruttenden

Hal Cruttenden

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Hal Cruttenden: Straight Outta Cruttenden, Christ’s Hospital, Horsham, September 24

Christ’s Hospital may seem like an unusual venue for stand-up but the unconventional location clearly won’t prevent Hal Cruttenden fans from showing up in droves.

It’s a superb night from beginning to end as the effete funnyman feeds off the audience’s energy to deliver a set filled with non-stop laughs.

However, before Hal’s set we’re treated to the droll observational comedy of Pierre Novellie, whose casual, unpretentious attitude goes down well.

His delivery is polite, cheery and tinged with a kind of dry English wit. It’s not that English though, as Pierre himself points out by drawing attention to the twang in his accent.

Born in South Africa, Pierre spent a lot of his childhood in Johannesburg before moving to the Isle of Man. This bit of personal information makes way for jokes about living in a fortress in Joburg and being asked stupid questions about Africa by English schoolkids.

It also allows Pierre to imagine what could happen to Santa if he tried to gain unauthorised access to a Johannesburg property at Christmas. The results would not be pretty...

Pierre provides a strong start to the evening, which is perhaps a little too strong for Hal who jokes about not using him again.

Striding onstage to the aggressive beats of ‘Straight Outta Compton’, Hal tries his best to look like an angry, underprivileged tough guy who’s about to drop some knowledge on his audience.

The act lasts a whole five seconds before he picks up the microphone.

Saying “hello” in the most amiable way possible, Hal launches into anecdotes about being scared of mice, going to a posh school and getting annoyed by pompous Facebook posts.

His manner may seem upbeat – and, as he admits, rather camp for a straight guy – but there’s a dark undercurrent at work in Hal’s comedy.

Observations from the point-of-view of a London commuter are delivered with impressive mock vitriol and Hal infuses many of his gags with an enjoyable sense of repressed middle-class bitterness.

He’s also surprisingly merciless to the audience when looking for things to make fun of. Professions, families and, yes, even Christ’s Hospital’s uniforms (gasp!) are targets for Hal to ridicule.

It’s all in good fun though and by the end of Hal’s performance it’s clear that everyone has had a great time.

One student even poses proudly in his uniform while helping Hal take a selfie during the encore.

No hard feelings there, then.

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