HUNTER ALLEN is thoroughly amused by a 3-star show with one 5-star act.
ADC Theatre, 11pm, Thursday 16th May, £6/£5
Adrian Gray steals the show during an excellent night of comedy. Beginning with an inspired routine based around Nicki Minaj’s “Starships”, Carpet Diem quickly won over the audience. Zoë Tomalin and Siân Docksey were our presenters for the evening, introducing us to the carpet themed conceit of the show and performing skits between the acts. This included a fantastic ‘Game of Thrones’ sketch with a nice drawing of “Compulsory Boobs”. Their material was funny enough – but it was their chemistry and rapport with the audience which really kept the momentum of the show alive.
As the show continued, the pair began to deconstruct their comedy personas, but not always to the best effect. There is nothing wrong with self-referential comedy, but there is a point where it can grow slightly tiring. Sometimes simply pointing out the machinations of comedy isn’t enough; the carpet samples scattered on stage were referred to as ‘contrived comedy conceits’ on three separate occasions. With that being said, Zoë’s fantastic dead pan and Siân’s strange brand of surrealism meant that, even at its most “meta”, they never lost favour with the audience. By the end of the show a curious raising of the eyebrow from Siân could provoke belly-laughs from the crowd.
Oliver Marsh’s performance was probably the most suited to Zoë and Siân’s particular brand of anti-humour. He picked up and played with the carpet theme, with a series of great anecdotes about the various stains on his bedroom floor. Like Zoë and Siân, however, there were points that an over reliance on knowingly bad comedy, a poor pun followed by a sideways glance to the audience, got in the way of his better material. This was saved by a genuinely tender farewell to the ADC theatre followed by hugging an unsuspecting member of the audience; it wasn’t a hilarious ending, but it certainly warmed a few hearts.
The next act was a surprise performance from a clearly nervous James Wilkinson. He had a slightly shaky start and his first few jokes fell flat. However, he quickly gained confidence and his material grew steadily better, with some of the best lines of the night. I particularly like his explanation of how being a disabled comic is much like being a black comic, a lesbian comic, a fat comic or a Muslim comic, in that they’re all comics. An anecdote about disabled parking and toilets (“Of course none of you would know what a disabled toilet looks like”) drew some of the biggest laughs of the evening.
After James came the unrivalled star of the show, Adrian Gray. Gray was the perfect antidote to all the meta-comedy which had preceded him: a series of hilarious, well crafted, one-liners (“Since my Muslim friend started wearing the full Burkha, I’ve not seen much of her”). It is difficult to talk about his act without giving away all the jokes but it is suffice to say that the humour varied from clever word play to a series of bluffs and double bluffs: a mixture of Milton Jones and Jimmy Carr at his best.
I would certainly recommend Carpet Diem to anyone looking for a nice remedy to exam term stress; it is a show full of charisma, charm, and one of the best seven minute sets I have seen in a long while.