Rich Hall, Ipswich Corn Exchange review - ‘a two-hour juggernaut of a show’

Rich Hall Credit: Rab Cummings

Rich Hall Credit: Rab Cummings - Credit: Archant

For a star of TV comedy panel shows to bring his Hoedown to a half empty Ipswich Corn Exchange must have been a bit of a comedown.

But Rich Hall had done his homework and was ready to improvise and give it his all to delight of those that ventured out for a Sunday-night laugh.

The first-half saw the jokes coming thick and fast as the American gave us his humorous take on life in the UK compared with the US.

He commended the Brits for taking on 26 nations over Brexit while the whole of the US was trying to get one man out of a house.

But he sees us as “cryptic-crossword-type people, not linear”, highlighted by Northampton being nowhere near Southampton, and the eccentricity of the documentaries on BBC 4.

Gags about the local geography, including the venue as a majestic arena once dripping with corn, and his journey from Liverpool Street via eight different types of transport, were delivered to appreciative, knowing laughs.

Audience interaction just before the interval reflected his humility.

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The victims in the front row included a car mechanic, a child care practitioner and a furniture salesman - Hall’s “kinda people”.

But he was not paying lip service to the answers to his questions, the details were all being mentally noted.

The second half was the Hoedown, and where Hall shone.

In the 15-minute interval, he had been hard at work tailoring his songs to the stories gained at the end of the first half.

He appeared back on stage armed with an acoustic guitar, accompanied by another guitarist and a drummer.

Declaring most country music as “maple syrup sweet sickly s**t”, he then played an hour of his own seemingly off-the-cuff western-style numbers.

The final two songs revealed Hall’s darker side, with the first mocking an ageing Bob Dylan, “wheezing in the key of flat”, followed by the finale about an of asylum-seeking African jumping on a lorry. Hall pushed the boundaries of taste, but it was funny.

After a two-hour juggernaut of a show, it was all smiles as the audience headed home.

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