Arts Reviews

“These sorts of spontaneous risks are required and almost expected from improvisation humour” – Theatre Review: Upfront Comedy Slam @ Nottingham Playhouse

Kyra Patterson

John Simmit, respected comedian and former Teletubby, hosted the powerhouse line up of laughs on the 22nd of April. The show highlighted the nuances of the Black British experience in a light-hearted jovial manner. Impact’s Kyra Patterson reviews.

To begin the evening, Leicester-born and raised Annette Fagon took the stage. She started by making a self-deprecating warning to the audience that her lack of ability was the reason to her being first act. The ridicule continued as she coined the phrase “beggars can’t be choosers” to relay her sexual experiences during Covid. Fagon allowed the audience to let loose and not take themselves too seriously, by sharing jokes about working from home, her anger management and her dating life. I enjoyed her fresh delivery and relatable takes that many people think about but are too embarrassed to say. 

The second comedian to grace the stage was the widely popular Kane Brown. I knew he would be my favourite act of the night as he danced on stage and immediately took a harmless jab at the DJ for continuing to play the same song. Brown’s ability to incorporate the lives of several individuals in the audience into hilarious improvisation reminded me of the favourite Jamaican uncle, to which the majority of the audience could relate. The audience could not stop laughing at his words, movements, and facial expressions.  

By the interval, I didn’t hope the humour could get funnier than this

In particular, Brown explained his thoughts on marriage by chatting to a couple in the front row; the running joke being that men are scared of their wives! He had all of the women nodding in agreement as he revealed why men are stupid and why women mould men into good husbands. By the interval, I didn’t hope the humour could get funnier than this.  

Shazia Mirza, debuting on the stand-up stage, followed after the interval. It would be an understatement to say that her bit had a shock factor. There were several moments she reassured the audience that her jokes were in fact “just jokes”. Albeit a predominantly black audience, the crowd seemed to enjoy Mirza’s anecdotes about her Muslim upbringing and laughed heavily at her random outbursts exclaiming “EID MUBARAK”. I liked how she included her personal experiences of being a teacher and her inclusion of audience participation.   

To finish the night, esteemed entertainer, actor and comedian, Curtis Walker, took to the stage in confidence. Walker specialised in relaying the uniqueness of Jamaican culture, language, and experience in the UK. I could personally relate to his rudeness toward the women in patty shops who don’t bother giving you change!

Walker was bold, cheeky, and playful

He allowed the audience to laugh at the silly sayings and phrases Jamaicans use, as well as showcasing a very specific type of Caribbean mockery to the few white people in the audience. Walker was bold, cheeky, and playful as he made fun of the man’s size once he had been told that he worked as a paramedic. Luckily, the man took it light-heartedly. These sorts of spontaneous risks are required and almost expected from improvisation humour in order to catch the crowd off-guard and make the jokes that much funnier. 

All in all, it’s a shame that Upfront Comedy Slam was for one night only as I am 100% sure that every attendee had a night to remember. If you weren’t there, you definitely missed out! 

 Kyra Patterson

Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.

In-article images courtesy of @johnsimmit via No changes were made to these images.

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