The Nuffield Theatre are all about comedy this season and last night (Saturday 5th October) was one of the most surprising and entertaining shows they’ve had. Not only were comedians Pete Firman, with his magic tricks, Rob Deering, with his musical spin on comedy and Ellie Taylor, doing impressions of Keira Knightley, funny enough, but the audience were in for a treat. Russell Howard is unexpectedly announced as the third act and stormed on to a huge round of applause and cheers to give the audience a test drive of his new material.
If you are planning on going to see Russell Howard’s new tour Wonderbox next year, you could be witnessing jokes regarding his family, genitalia and Ed Miliband in the same show (although hopefully not about Ed Miliband’s genitalia). As this was a trial of his latest material it didn’t run like a normal comedy set would, he was very chatty and made the audience aware that if it was a flop then he would go back to the drawing board and work on it. Obviously it wasn’t a flop as the audience were in continuous fits of laughter. Howard interacted with the audience by picking out someone’s laugh and mocking it throughout the show, describing it like an antique lawnmower which the audience found very entertaining.
You could see the cogs working in his head as he tried to figure out which jokes to test or stories to try. It was an interesting experience, witnessing a comedy set that may not actually be any good or worthy of being performed yet, with the risk that the audience may remain silent. With the other comedians, the audience knew they were appearing, that is what they paid for. This meant they had to work hard to impress and make the audience feel they have got their money’s worth. Russell Howard however, a well-known, award winning comedian was an additional bonus to the evening, like finding that seventh chicken nugget in a box of six.
One audience member commented; ‘You can tell the difference between him (Russell Howard) and the other comedians – they were here to prove themselves – people didn’t even know he was coming, and they loved it.’
As his appearance wasn’t advertised anywhere, even The Nuffield website simply remarked; ‘Secret TV guest joins the line up to perform a small selection of warm up material ahead of his 2014 arena tour. All will be revealed on the night!’ it was lovely to see such a full house to give him a warm welcome. Fingers crossed Russell Howard returns with more of his entertaining wit about the news, family anecdotes and Bristolian accent to Nuffield audiences.
Russell Howard’s Wonderbox tour starts 21st February at Bournemouth International Centre and commences around the UK.