Russell Howard video interview PLUS gallery and review: Hilarity Charity Gala, Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

It was billed as Wolverhampton's answer to 'Live at the Apollo' and Central Youth Theatre's Hilarity Charity Gala did not disappoint.

Above is an interview with Russell Howard, Ben Clark, Tom Parry and Jane Ward MBE.

The late addition of BBC comedian Russell Howard to the bill brought a touch of real star quality to the event, which was put together in order to raise funds for the famous youth theatre company amid council cuts - but everyone played their part in what was a true feast of laughter. 

The Central Youth Theatre has given hundreds of youngsters from Wolverhampton the chance to try and fulfill their artistic dreams over the last thirty years. 

As compere for the evening Daniel Kitson told the audience just before they left for the night, 'get your money out because there's kids who want to pretend'. Perrier Award winner Kitson set the rough and ready tone for the evening with his no nonsense approach to warming a crowd up. 

There was no pandering to the wants of the masses as the Yorkshire comedian raced through a near-perfect 20 minute introduction. The Hilarity Charity Gala, held at the Grand Theatre, may have been created in order to raise money, but this wasn't a soft, friendly show designed to guilt trip people into making a donation. 

All six acts gave a good account of themselves but it really was Kitson, also the compere for last year's inaugural Gala, who stole the show. Even Russell Howard's huge pulling power didn't stop him being the man people were talking about after the curtain fell. 

The first 'proper' act of the night was Welsh comedian Elis James, who had huge sections of the crowd howling with his tales of fatherhood. 

Comedy trio Pappy's, featuring Tom Parry, a former CYT member who organised the night, managed to keep the momentum going despite some technical issues that threatened to put a dampener on things. The group thrived off the chaos in a way that works so well on nights like this. 

Russell Howard ended the first half with a crowd pleasing set that was an improvement on his TV work, which can often be a bit tame. The comedian, who had just come back from making a movie, ensured the opening section ended on a high. 

After a short film about CYT's history and their need for funding played during the interval, surprise guest Rob Beckett took to the stage. His cheeky chappy routine is nothing new, but it does feel authentic and his material was delivered with a confidence that suggested his popularity may be just about to soar. 

After him came Lazy Susan, whose wild and fanciful sketch routines brought a touch of alternative comedy to the night. The duo took on the role of numerous different characters in three well-written and heartily performed sketches. Their style of comedy was definitely the most risky of all the acts, but the cheers they recieved suggested any sceptics in the crowd had been won over by the end of their set. 

Inbetweeners and Mock The Week star Greg Davies closed the evening with his first live performance in two years. 
The 47 year old did come over as a little rusty, but at the same time seemed to genuinely enjoy himself, so it was probably the perfect setting for a comeback. The night wasn't about refined routines anyway, it was about bringing big laughs for a good cause. 

Each and every act on the bill can rest safe in the knowledge that if CYT do get the money they deserve, they will have played their part.

By Jordan Harris (Reporter for the Express & Star)
Add your comment