COMEDY FESTIVAL REVIEW: Alistair McGowan: Not Just A Pretty Voice at Leicester Cathedral. Review by Neil Galleymore
Alistair McGowan is an English impressionist, stand-up comic, actor, singer and writer, best known to British audiences for The Big Impression.
The show was, for four years, one of BBC1's top-rated comedy programmes, winning numerous awards, including a Bafta in 2003.
McGowan goes back to his stand-up roots for a new two-hour show, asking the big questions such as: would the world be a happier place if Ed Miliband was Prime Minister? And is Hilary Devey Jessie J's mum?
The evening was opened by Canon Chancellor David Monteith, who said a few words before introducing McGowan.
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As you can imagine, the show brought us stand-up and some of those famous impressions. It would take me far too long to mention them all, but a few highlights included Frank Skinner, Adrian Chiles, a hilarious John Bishop, David Mitchell and Ed Miliband.
Sport was covered in the form of Andy Murray, Boris Becker, Mark Lawrenson and Garth Crooks and McGowan also did a great routine as Roy Hodgson becoming Fagin in Oliver!. There was even a nod to Leicester with Gary Lineker and Gok Wan. After the interval, he gave a very interesting and honest Q&A session.
I'm not sure about the cathedral as a comedy venue as it was rather cold, the acoustics weren't great and we could hear the bells every 15 minutes. But this didn't deter McGowan, who was top class.
Love him or hate him, to see Paul Foot is to know that there are comics who think in a unique way and are not afraid to just run with it on stage. He has never aimed for a mainstream telly-viewing audience, which ironically has led to him receiving a fair bit of coverage lately.
Last night's show was classic Foot, starting with a 10-minute intro in which he awkwardly introduced himself and imagined the different reasons why people might have been there to see him, concluding that his performance would most likely ruin a couple of marriages.
He then performed several segments of "humour" – each one a bizarre, tangential story which got more ridiculous as it went along.
First, the tale of the nation's largest cheddar collection, which is tragically ruined by an overgrown cucumber. Next, a children's birthday party, also tragically ruined, this time by meatless sausages.
And lastly, the plight of an angel being ignored in heaven when she breaks a wing.
Not your standard observational fare, obviously, but Foot's strange phrasing and bizarre appearance keeps the audience laughing at the slightest word or facial expression.
Each segment climaxes with Foot launching himself into the audience in character, screaming or sobbing right into the face or lap of an unsuspecting punter.
This is where Foot excels as a performer, creating an intensity in the room that will produce uncontrollable fits of laughter – as long as you are willing to accompany him on his bizarre journey.