Last night we headed for the Glee Club in Birmingham city centre with a couple of friends, to see the American comedian Rich Hall. In case you haven't heard of him, he turns up quite regularly on tv shows such as QI and Have I Got News For You, and also did a recent series of documentaries about different film genres in the US. Although he hails from Montana he's settled in Britain and has a remarkably British sense of humour. He's caustic, he's sarcastic, sometimes he's downright vitriolic - but he's always very, very funny.
He seems to write all his own stuff and also improvised large chunks of the show, picking on hapless members of the audience and weaving jokes around their relationships and job titles. He had immense fun with one energy manager, for instance, and with a headline he'd recently seen in an Irish newspaper: 'Cork Man Drowns' ("His name was Bob."). He also began with a terrific piece about the Conservative Party Conference, currently taking over a large section of Birmingham city centre around the ICC with the result that parking is almost impossible. "When I say I'm pleased to be here," he deadpanned, "I meant I had to walk all the way from the far side of Edgbaston."
We spent the evening helpless with laughter... which was just as well since the seating arrangements were far from ideal. Around 400 people crammed into a small hall, with tables, is not conducive to space - I've seen sardine tins that were roomier. It was hot, it was squashed, and the poor folk who ordered meals spent the next half hour trying to eat them without elbowing both their neighbours in the ribs (or worse). Rich Hall is clearly a very popular act and you can understand the Glee Club management wanting to cram in as many folk as possible, but this time they went a little too far.
Great night out, though - and we even got a ride back in our friends' swanky new car!