Leslie Jones: Time Machine
Best known in the UK for Ghostbusters, and on the Saturday Night Live comedy, Leslie Jones showed off her stand-up skills with this smash hit special directed by Game of Thrones creators DB Weiss and David Benioff. Don’t expect dragons, but there are plenty of fantasies as Jones travels back in time to meet his younger and older selves. There’s even a prince, for whom Jones performs a sexy dance at the show’s highlight.
Steve Martin and Martin Short
SSE Hydro, Glasgow
The coronavirus was already in the air when these Two Amigos arrived from North America with their old-school comedy cabaret in March. The UK lockdown interrupted the tour in its prime, but not before Martin and Martin delighted Glasgow with camaraderie, banjo, and ruthless mutual taunts. Memories of his carefree stupidity shine even brighter given the sadness that followed. Read the full review.
Anglo-Nigerian stand-up Nabil Abdulrashid received death threats after his close-to-the-bone racial material on Britain’s Got Talent. He received nothing but applause from me when I saw him at the Sunday Antics club night in London last October. His nervous, thoughtful, 40-minute set with no debt to anyone raised the roof in Soho and raised high expectations for his inaugural tour in 2021. Read the full review.
Sarah Cooper: Everything is fine
It wasn’t a given that viral star Sarah Cooper made the leap from her Donald Trump lip sync videos to a full-length Netflix special. But Everything’s Fine proved that Cooper is a goalkeeper. A daytime parody news show turning into a fever dream of 2020 America, this sketch show turned psychic collapse distilled this year weird like nothing else. Read the full review.
Kim Noble: futile attempts (to survive tomorrow)
Podcast / Spotify
For many of us, 2020 was a year of isolation and existential dread. For Kim Noble, that’s every year, as her career in black comedy like pitch and “failed performance art” has surprisingly shown. This summer he brought his Futile Attempts podcast, each episode detailing a new approach to finding meaning in a meaningless world. Part joke, part breakdown, these mind-blowing audio snippets and metadata were a must. Read the full review.
Pin’s Zoom sketches
We were spoiled by digital comedy in 2020 as the live entertainment industry searched for new ways to work and earn a living. Much of the online comedy left one sighing for real-world stand-up. But not this series of short videos of Pin’s sketch couple, brilliant little Zoom-era mannered comedies that have fun with our still uncertain world of working from home and (de) connecting in cyberspace. Read more.
Maria Bamford: weakness is the brand
One could say that the weakness is the brand “back to normal” after Maria Bamford’s previous special, delivered to an audience of her parents and no one else. But the normal is not the metier of Bamford. Her new Netflix special found the 50-year-old in remission from mental health battles in the limelight in her sitcom Lady Dynamite, but still offers a complex, characterful and hopelessly abnormal standup. Read the full review.
Epstein Theater, Liverpool
This was the last live concert I saw before lockdown 1.0, and I can’t imagine a better lasting impression for comedy. That’s how exciting standup can be, as practiced by one of its creators, at least, in its British way, post-1981. This outing in the hometown found 68-year-old Scouser in snorting form: scholarly, mocking and vigorously intemperate with conservatives, Laura Kuenssberg, David Miliband, and many more. Read the full review.
Greenwich Comedy Festival, London
After six months without seeing live comedy, the handful of concerts I saw in September felt like a gift from the stand-up gods. Bridget Christie at Brighton Standup Under the Stars was the highlight, but the highlight was Aisling Bea’s set at the Greenwich Comedy Festival, combining high-quality routines about Covid, Ireland, and Jesus into one irresistible package of nonsense. Read the full review.
Russell Kane: Live at the Rose
Rose Theater, Kingston
In 2020, most new comedy shows spent the year in a waiting pattern, waiting for a festival or touring circuit to launch into, when tours and festivals are allowed again. I felt – the entire comedy community felt – the loss of the Edinburgh strip deeply, and I regretted all the amazing new shows and new talent that we didn’t get to see.
But if well-honed new sets were in short supply, we were able to study comedy in extremis, reacting to its own biggest crisis, the biggest most of us have ever experienced. We saw comedians joking about the arrival of Covid-19, we saw them respond (online, mostly) when their industry shut down, and when audiences started to return to clubs and theaters, we turned to them to help us process this. strange, haunting year.
So for me, the best performance of 2020 has to be the one that nailed, and made it so much fun, which is to be alive, here and now, in the pandemic in Britain. New strange behaviors and ever-changing rules. The precious things that we have lost. The evil incompetence of the government. That performance was by Russell Kane.
For 40 minutes at the top of a Saturday night billboard in South West London, this most hyperactive comic threw itself on the Covid black comedy, as if channeling our collective anxiety to fuel this fierce, funny, and sense of rejection. world. pandemic has threatened to create. It was an exciting reminder of what comedy can do, even if that didn’t extend, sadly, to stopping Covid – the theater locked 2.0 the next day. Read the full review.
Digsmak is a news publisher with over 12 years of reporting experiance; and have published in many industry leading publications and news sites.