By Mark Edmundson (16 August 2009)
A rare audience with original comedy nutjob
Did anyone else bury deep the memory of Charlie Chuck’s shambolic, barking contributions to the careers of Reeves and Mortimer? As the familiar hangdog horror drifts stage-wards, one is struck by the realisation that you’re all paying to spend an hour in the company of a shifty bus stop mentalist (brandishing an ominous length of wood) whom you would ordinarily go to great pains to avoid. Between Tourettes outbursts, Chuck wrestles free various garbled rants, equal parts unfettered wisdom, contrary comedy and bewildering dead-ended statements in a flawless performance. If there really is a perfectly well-adjusted comedy actor under the Hendrix bouffant and dishevelled tuxedo he certainly deserves wider acclaim.
The show is a two-hander and the narrative, at first apparently superfluous, soon reveals a necessary foil to the weathered northerner’s outpatient antics. Admittedly not to everyone’s taste and crashing in cack-handed at only two thirds its billed hour, it is all the more mystifying that there is still room for such a wealth of observation, heartbreak and raw fear packed into a show that still comes good with the laughs.
By Tom Mack (10:30 – 21 January 2006)
A group of adults with learning difficulties is performing with a top comic as part of the Leicester Comedy Festival.
Professional stand-up Charlie Chuck, who has been in TV appearances with Vic Reeves, will take to the stage with residents from a care home in Shangton, near Market Harborough. The show, called Don’t Be Afraid to Try, includes songs and jokes.
Comedian Charlie, who lives in Leicester, has been running drama classes for over a year and worked with the team from Care Shangton at the Edinburgh Festival in August. He said: “I was looking for a different vocation and, although I still do professional shows, this has been a great career change. “It’s a good way to let people know what goes on here at Shangton.” Care, set up in 1966, offers homes and day services for adults with learning difficulties across the UK.
In the show, residents choose songs to sing. Between the songs, Charlie joins in with some comedy. John Davey, 55, who lives at Care’s group home in Market Harborough, will be singing Elvis Presley’s Welcome to My World. He said: “It’s one from my record collection.” Katherine McGann, 27, will perform her favourite Boyzone numbers. She said: “My songs make Charlie’s jokes sound funnier.” Jayne Gibson, 45, is looking forward to belting out Power of Love. “I’m not nervous about going on stage,” she said. “I want to go back to Edinburgh again this year.” Care’s community fund-raiser Katherine Brown said of the show, which has been made into a DVD: “Since Charlie set up his drama group, everyone has wanted to be involved, and going to Edinburgh and doing a seven-night run served as a confidence boost for everyone.”
The show is on February 16 at the sports hall at Care, which is on the B6047 Melton Road, at Shangton. Tickets are available through the festival site at: < ahref="http://www.comedy-festival.co.uk/">http://www.comedy-festival.co.uk.
By Rachel Burns
A newly refurbished function room complete with bar and candlelit tables provided a relaxed setting for this month’s comedy night, held at The Black Horse Hotel in Otley. The new venue is spot-on for a comedy club, and the comics who hosted Charlie Chuck’s Laughter Lounge on Sunday hit the mark too. Compere Karen Bayley led the way with observational and ballsy humour. A tough job to warm up a cold (and sober) audience but she earned her laughs and won the room over. Support act Alfie Joey had an easier time. His enthusiasm was infectious and his impressions – including a memorable Bruce Forsythe – had the audience charmed. It was impossible not to like him and he had the audience so relaxed they joined him for a game of bingo. Headliner Brendan Riley was very funny. His topical humour included the bizarre image of Saddam Hussein being introduced to a Liverpudlian “bird”, and his more general Scouse observations were a hit with the crowd. The Laughter Lounge is a breath of fresh air and a totally different night out. The line-up of comics for the coming months is seriously impressive, and the current venue is an ideal environment in which to enjoy them. The next gig is on Sunday, November 28 and will be headlined by Steve Harris – an all rapping, singing and dancing ex-bouncer. He has featured on many television programmes and is a festival regular. The fantastic Billy Bedlam will support Steve. For those who had the pleasure of seeing Billy performing his mad musical instruments at The Courthouse earlier this year, then nothing needs to be said. For those who didn’t – don’t miss him this time. The evening will be compered by Ryan Gough – a six foot five, 19 stone ball of energy, who can apparently get even the shyest audience singing along to theme tunes from adverts. Tickets are on sale now at The Black Horse Hotel, Westgate and are priced at £8.50 or £5 concessions.
Charlie Chuck’s Laughter Lounge – Black Horse Hotel, Otley (Thursday March 3)
OTLEY’S comedy club crowd didn’t know what had hit them when comedian Freaks Outing hit them with a truly weird array of costumed characters. His rapping miner went down a storm followed by a truly incredible all singing, all dancing grim reaper. Freaks Outing was the support act of the night but there was nothing second rate about his act. Following his bizarre cabaret of death, the crowd were treated to a holiday camp style crooner with a difference and his own musical take on Star Trek. By the time he appeared in a basque, the audience were laughing before he’d opened his mouth.
It’s a very clever act. His humour is pretty black but presented in such a likeable way by such a likeable character, there was slim chance of anyone taking offence.
His style was original to say the least and again shows the sheer variety that this club is providing. What is consistent about the Laughter Lounge is the quality of the acts and the feedback from the audience that they can’t believe there is a night like this on offer in the town.
Headliner Anthony J Brown has appeared in Channel 4′s Phoenix Nights. He was also runner up in the BBC1 New Comedy Award 2000 at the Edinburgh Festival. He has perfected a unique performance style – perhaps an acquired taste.
His act is very stylised, his delivery slow and deadpan. But he was winning the initially bemused crowd over. Again his material was pretty dark but he drew the audience in as they sussed that his seriousness was only leading up to some very funny punchlines.
Compere Colin Ward delivered the goods yet again with his genuinely funny and occasionally silly one-liners. A favourite from this gig – “did you hear about the agoraphobic skinhead starting a fight? He shouts ‘Oi u! Inside!’”
Colin is creating his own fan base at the Laughter Lounge and it’s well deserved. His likable, warm manner is ideal for a compere. Though he will be absent from the next gig, do not fear – he will be back for the following one.
THE SCOTSMAN – Charlie Chuck – The Music Box. By Tom Lapin
5 star comedy!
The Chuck comes of age. Concerned parties had been whispering that the scary hairy with the physiognomy reminiscent of Jimmy Savile after a spot of malicious DNA tampering had blown it. Was he doomed to quietly fade into obscurity as the “Uncle Peter” footnote in the Reeves & Mortimer chapter on great British comedy?
Dream on. Charlie’s first full-length Fringe show is a triumph of insanity, a tour de farce that establishes him as the unchallenged idiot savant of comedy. The hits are all there, the drum-demolition, the “d’yer want a cup of tea?” mantra and the classic “cream bun” routine (chanted back at stage verbatim by the hardcore Chuckophiles in the front row), but there’s a new dimension to the show these days.
The previously only hinted-at Chuck universe has been expanded with the help of Mike Wattam as the leathery farmhand Jud, and the Chucks own daughter (you can tell she’s a Chuck by the way she dances) as “Edie Wakefield” (don’t ask).
The end result is a bizarre dysfunctional family with a nasty habit of spitting Sugar Puffs all over the shop. Don’t try and analyse it, don’t try and float any theories about chuck being the outlet for the madness that lurks within us all, a lone voice bellowing “donkey” from the brink. Just accept that here is a man who is mind-alteringly funny. It’s enough.