It’s a good show, that you can trust says sceptic Mitch Benn
- Credit: Archant
Mitch Benn is a sceptic, but don’t take his word for it or indeed anybody’s about anything says the comedian.
That’s the basic premise of his new critically acclaimed show, which won’t just make you laugh but think a bit as well as he debunks myths, exposes nonsense and grapples with the very nature of knowledge itself, extolling the virtues of an evidence-based approach to life with amusing consequences and of course a few songs along the way.
“It’s about figuring out what’s true, what’s not and how to treat them accordingly. Goes into some fairly contentious areas as you can imagine but it’s been very popular so far,” says Benn, appearing at The Avenue theatre, Ipswich, November 20, from 7.30pm.
One of the most sought-after acts on the comedy circuit, he’s equally happy performing at festivals and more conventional gig venues like Red Rose Chain’s HQ.
“They’re all fun in different ways; I try to concentrate on enjoying whatever I’m doing at the moment,” says Benn, widely acknowledged as one of the best writer and performers of comic songs in the country.
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“No,” he says when asked if he remembers the first song he wrote and what it was about. “Not being cagey, genuinely can’t remember.”
A lot of the music Benn plays has a humorous bent to it. He’s not sure he can ever see himself performing in a less satirical manner.
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“Might yet happen; the thing about the internet is an artist can put an album out which is maybe a radical departure from their usual stuff as a download-only album at no great risk to themselves; if people want it it’s there, if they don’t you haven’t wasted any money printing it up.”
It must be hard though, writing funny songs all the time?
“You’d be amazed at the lubricative effect that crippling debt and immovable deadlines can have on the creative process,” adds Benn, a big fan of fellow comic songwriters Jay Foreman, Laurence Owen, Pippa Evans...
“In London my band and I run The Distraction Club, which is an all musical comedy night. It’s great finally getting to see lots of new musical comics as they tend to keep us apart on the club circuit.”
He’s done a few shows to musical heroes including Dylan and Elvis among others. Is he poking fun or paying homage?
“Well, in the case of the radio shows I just did, the ones about Dylan, Bowie and Elvis; following on from the one I did about the Beatles, it was absolutely both. You can love something while still being very aware of its more ridiculous aspects.”
Enough about his heroes, if he could could travel through travel and eliminate any band or artist from the history of music, who would it be and why?
“Mariah Carey. No problem with her as such, but her overwrought vocal technique has become the benchmark young singers are taught to aspire to and it’s ruined the craft of singing by turning it into a competitive sport rather than an interpretative art,” says Benn, who released the science fiction novel in 2013 called Terra.
He followed it up with Terra’s World last year.
“I’ve been a huge sci-fi fan all my life. I’d always wanted to write a book and the opportunity presented itself a few years ago. The story itself was inspired by my relationship with my daughter Greta.”
Given the topic of his new show, a sudden thought hits me - can we believe a word of what he’s just told us?
“One of them is a lie. I leave it to your readers to decide which one.”
The Avenue is fast becoming a comedy hotspot, following successful appearances by Paul Foot and James Campbell. Foot is returning to The Avenue theatre next February 26.
His first show sold out and his An Evening With... is expected to do the same. Tickets are on sale now.
Next April Germany’s comedy ambassador for teutonic jolliness Henning Wehn will try out new material on audiences.