I Think it’s safe to say that we can describe Rich Hall as a veteran of the UK comedy circuit, as he has played venues up and down the country for many years. He is from Montana, USA but spends a lot of time in the UK and is in fact married to a ‘scouser’ – something he refers to on a few occasions in this latest incarnation of his Hoedown.
The thing that separates Hall from many of his counterparts is his use of music – and more specifically country music – in his routine. He described this genre of music as not being adopted by us here in the UK, a fact he explains by telling us that “most of it is s**t!”
The show was split into two very distinct parts. The first half is Rich doing his stand-up work, interacting with the audience members on the front row with some well-rehearsed material on the comedy gift that keeps on giving, President Trump. On the face of it making fun of Trump sounds very predictable but don’t judge before you see Hall in person – he very effectively uses his own personal experiences of where the new president has changed things that have affected him. A perfect example of this being when talks of his encounter with the US medical services in the post-Obamacare era.
Rich has played at the Middleton Arena at least once before, but that doesn’t take anything away from the impressive amount of local knowledge that he worked into his routine; the attention to detail was superb with constant references to Middleton’s lack of identity and the ‘architectural wonder’ that is Middleton Arena, mixed with the constant smell of chlorine (for those who done know Middleton Arena is both a theatre and a swimming pool!). The tactic of using local knowledge is a simple way to make a real impression on your audience but one that very few comedians actually spend time researching – this isn’t lost on a packed theatre in Middleton.
The second half of the show involved Hall’s Hoedown band, with Rob Childs on guitar and drummer Mike Hewitt. For those who have seen Hall in years gone by, his alter-ego Otis Lee Crenshaw is a huge influence on this part of the show. This was a chance to show off his talents as a singer/songwriter and his improvisation skills as he featured many of the audience members he interacted with in the first act – not just replacing names in generic songs but eloquently describing jobs, relationships, cars and just about anything he can remember from earlier in the night.
One of the many highlights of a brilliant night of comedy was the song which chronicles the demise of the legendary Bob Dylan, for which Hall describes his most recent experience as “wanting everyone’s money back” – finished off with a hilarious off-key harmonica display which harps back to the very talented Les Dawson doing the same with the piano.
Rich Hall has a tried and tested formula for his comedy and to put it simply, it just works. His gruff, dour persona is the perfect way to deliver what is an intelligent combination of jokes, improvisation and music. He has a razor-sharp wit that has clearly been honed over many years playing comedy clubs and theatres. If you’ve only seen Rich Hall on panel shows like '8 Out Of 10 Cats' or 'Mock The Week' then I thoroughly recommend you see him live – you will not be disappointed.
Reviewer - John Fish
on - 9/6/18
on - 9/6/18