REVIEW: Stellar performers serve up a night of laughs at top school

A Night of Comedy, Christ’s Hospital Theatre, Thursday, October 16

Christ’s Hospital School is one of the finest institutions in West Sussex, having produced leaders and innovators for generations, and it now seems it could lead the way in stand-up comedy.

Last Thursday the school’s stunning theatre hosted perhaps its most ambitious offering of comic fun yet when it staged a triple header featuring three of the biggest names on the circuit.

But the grand surroundings were certainly playing on the talent’s minds, evident from the moment that compère Shappi Khorsandi scampered on stage.

Her opening line of ‘This place is like Hogwarts meets the Muppets’ was an astute ice breaker but the experienced comedian initially seemed to be atypically unsure about what sort of audience she was dealing with.

Her gentle leg pulling of the assembled masses about their perceived affluence went down well and she adeptly brought unwitting spectators into her act.

The diminutive performer has the rare talent of being able to say pretty much what she likes and being able to get away with it such is her wholesome charm.

Self deprecation is a standard requirement for any comedian but Khorsandi uses this quality to maximum effect.

But she was very much the support act and the tempo was increased by her introduction of rising star Rob Beckett,who from the moment he described himself as a ‘giant toddler with massive teeth’ he had the audience on his side.

Arguably he was the least well known performer on the bill but it would not be unfair to argue that he was the best received. Like Khorsandi, the person who takes the brunt of the majority of his jokes is himself and this audience loved it.

Although raised a universe away from this pleasant corner of West Sussex in Lewisham, Beckett possesses a repertoire that strikes a chord with all audiences. His routine about every British home owning a sick bowl and the punchline about his being the closest thing to a family heirloom brought the house down.

The headline act was undoubtedly Josh Widdicombe whose compact and well rehearsed act lived up to expectations even though he seemed genuinely confused as to where he was performing although his sardonic assessment that his myriad television appearances had paid off due to the fact he was playing down a lane near Horsham on a Thursday more than made up for it.

His laid back delivery has become his trademark and many were in stitches long before he offered a punchline or put down.

His reflection on his school years and his gag about rubbish classroom television sets on wheels brought arguably the biggest laughs of the entire set.

Despite an oddly abrupt ending the night was a huge success and it is hard to believe that top class comedy will not become a permanent fixture at Christ’s Hospital.