Friday, 31 March 2017

Comedy Review: Russell Howard - Round The World

Image Source: Echo Arena
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Format: Stand-Up
Genre: Comedy
Date: March 30 2017
Location: Liverpool Echo Arena, Liverpool, England

Returning to the stand-up stage for the first time since 2014, Russell Howard is once again touring the UK comedy circuit, and has brought his new Round The World show to Liverpool Echo Arena.

Russell, who has built up a large following not only in Britain but also across the globe, has a relaxed yet thought-provoking and outspoken style to his comedy delivery, meaning that he is more likely to make you laugh from telling stories and sharing opinions, as well as "potential" situations, than telling jokes; however, when he does have the audience laughing, it's loud, and often, as he comes up with many humorous scenarios and tales that, amazingly, did actually happen.

These relate to Russell's visit to Liberia on behalf of Comic Relief and the strange situation he found himself in on the day that a new school was opened there; romantic issues from his days in university; his opinions on Donald Trump and the furore surrounding Brexit, and how the Queen may be able to play an unlikely role in reducing the impact of President Trump; and his alternative method towards preventing possible terrorist attacks, should they occur in unexpected environments (hint: there would be giraffes present).

The best parts of the show are when Russell explains how his brother makes him smile even during the saddest or most awkward times with one-liners that are so inappropriate, based on the settings and the people present, that they should provoke outrage, but instead trigger mass laughter. That's not to mention his father and his mother who, while not quite as outspoken or potentially offensive as his brother, still pop up with some frequent, and increasingly risqué, statements which one would not associate with the parents of a 37-year-old comedian, but which can't help but raise a laugh nevertheless. The tone turns quite emotional at times, too, especially when Russell discusses his late grandparents and how even those sad situations managed to provoke laughter.

Russell's philosophy is to find a reason to smile and laugh at even the bleakest moments, otherwise life can be a real struggle due to political and social issues, and he does have a point. He also explains how life was much simpler during childhood, whilst also pointing out how the world would be a happier place, and adulthood isn't as bad as you may think if one re-examines their approach towards how they handle seemingly troublesome or depressing situations. A nice touch, mirroring the "Round The World" title, saw the stage positioned in the middle of the arena, with a circular shape, which along with large screens allowed everyone in the arena to have a great view of what was going on, especially during the physical comedy. Russell's personality, which is happy-go-lucky mixed with strong opinions, is mirrored by the warm-up act Steve Williams, who also helped write some material for Russell's previous Good News series on BBC television.

The show went a little bit long for my liking, and some of the material may not be to everybody's tastes, more so because of the amount of time these sections of the show took up. Nevertheless, if you want plenty of laughs and a chance to look at the ever-changing world with a more relaxed and positive mindset, then Russell Howard's latest show is a good one to see, and the Echo Arena audience agreed, giving him a huge ovation as proceedings came to a close.

Overall Rating: 8/10 - Very Good

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