REVIEW: Shappi Khorsandi, Tom Allen and Paul McCaffrey at Christ’s Hospital

Shappi Khorsandi
Shappi Khorsandi

Comedy Night, Christ’s Hospital Theatre, Horsham, October 5

It’s a nice mixture of silliness and sophistication that’s on offer at tonight’s Christ’s Hospital comedy show.

Sat in the stylish and comfortable school theatre, the audience is treated to three different stand-ups who are all very impressive whether they deliver wacky, rude or rather intellectual jokes.

First up (and first on again after the interval) is the evening’s host Paul McCaffrey.

The unpretentious funnyman gets some good laughs with anecdotes about a hard-of-hearing family member, trying to communicate in French, and the rubbishness of being a 40-something who has the impulse to party like a 20-year-old.

Overall, Paul offers a nice light and bouncy start to the show.

Not literally though, as his material about trying to lose weight points out pretty ruthlessly.

Next up is Shappi Khorsandi with some considerably more highbrow material about publishing a book, understanding British identity and developing a fascination with Emma Hamilton.

She also has a wonderfully awkward anecdote about meeting Jeremy Corbyn.

It’s engaging and thought-provoking stuff, held together neatly by Shappi’s skill as a storyteller and her ability to use witty jokes to convey complex ideas.

There are great gags in Shappi’s set but, Corbyn story aside, the more political material from all the comedians tonight doesn’t provoke the big belly laughs.

It’s unclear why but, if I had to guess, I’d say it’s because, after Trump’s victory, the Brexit result and a UK snap election (and the lingering aftermath of these events), people are now a bit tired of politics.

However, that said, the more universal and observational stuff in this show goes down a storm.

The final act of the night, Tom Allen, uses this to his advantage, offering up relatable anecdotes, mostly about his family and upbringing.

Tom’s also gay (which surprises no one) and is able to work some hilarious homosexuality-related tales and quips into his act.

He doesn’t make it the sole focus of his time onstage though.

Instead, Tom explores situations and dilemmas that pretty much everyone can identify with — attending birthday parties as a kid, learning to drive and trying to become a homeowner when prices have gone through the roof.

And it’s all delivered with split-second comic timing in a knowingly over-refined manner.

His audience interaction is strong too and Tom’s able to tease amusing responses out of the Christ’s Hospital crowd, which he quickly and cleverly reacts to.

He’s definitely worth catching when he heads to Crawley’s Hawth this month.

Overall then, the evening is another success for the unconventional comedy venue that is Christ’s Hospital.

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