REVIEW: Mat Ricardo's London Varieties – An Audience with Al Murray.

Mat Ricardo’s London Varieties is a monthly vaudeville spectacular, showcasing the greatest and weirdest in cabaret comedy. Held in the old school underground Leicester Square theatre this is perhaps the perfect location with a relaxed (the bar is still located to the side of the auditorium) and intimate (the stage is virtually on top of the audience it’s so close) atmosphere. Well positioned TV screens are used to good effect to play the short videos that accompany Mat’s set.

The premise behind the show is that each month our quick witted compare, Mat Ricardo, is set a traditional vaudeville trick to learn and then perform next time. This month it was the death defying cannonball catch (although apparently these are rather hard to come by now, so were substituted with equally scary looking bowling balls). A great start to the evening with Mat’s passion and enthusiasm shining through, immediately putting the audience at ease as we chuckled along with him. Next month you’ll get to see him juggling three electric knifes.

Guests for the night began with comedy singer Elliot Mason (his ‘The Day They Turned Jif to Cif’ was particularly irritatingly catchy, still tickling us now), followed by the rather droll magician Peter Wardell (his long take on the traditional cup and ball trick kept my interest, although the harder to please @charliesaidthat was less impressed).

After the break, an interview with Pub Landlord comedian Al Murray started off a little confusing as we waited for the gag to begin and punch line to hit. However, after realising (with the help of a few kind-hearted heckles) that this was a traditional interview we relaxed into it and enjoyed listening about his hard slog on the comedy circuit and rise to fame.

The finale for the night was the awesome as always, Boy with Tape On His Face. By far the stand out guest, his silent propped based comedy brought tears to the eyes as his game audience ‘volunteers’ were left helpless trying to follow his mute gesticulations.

As the night came to an end we left with massive grins – surely a sure sign of comedy success?! Although in places a little jarring with the complete mix of styles, Mat’s love for vaudeville was clear with his talent and experience keeping things together and kind of on track.

Mat Ricardo’s London Varieties is next on 25th April, with a line up of Paul Daniels, Eastend Cabaret, Lisa Lottie and Johann Lippowitz. For full details of upcoming shows and booking details, check out Mat’s website here.

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