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Get set for a ‘Hall’ of a show!

Created on 17/04/2012 @ 08:48


Hafren has hosted some side splitting shows from the comedy A-listers over the last year or so, but Saturday night is set to top them all.
Surprisingly there are a handful of tickets still left for Rich Hall and the man who was once a hurricane namer for the United States Meteorological Service, is set to show Montgomeryshire just why he is considered one of the great comics of his generation.
Well-known for his gruff, deadpan style, the man from Montana is a master of absurdist irony and rapid-fire wit. You will not see a funnier stand-up at work today.
The ‘adopted’ Brit is currently touring the UK and mynewtown jumped at the chance of meeting him for a chat in London ahead of his local gig... hold on to your hats folks as this is gonna be a helluva ride!
One of the elements that distinguishes Rich’s live act is that he tailors each show to that particular location. Every night, he delivers an object lesson in performing off-the-cuff.
Rich, who won the coveted Perrier Award for his brilliant, bourbon-soaked, Tennessee redneck, Country and Western singer alter ego, Otis Lee Crenshaw, at the 2000 Edinburgh Festival, says he adores the spontaneity of live comedy.
“I really look forward to the fact that every night is different – that's the only way to keep it fresh. A lot of comedians lock onto a show and never change it. But for me, that is not taking advantage of where you are. The more you try to acknowledge where you are and take in local colour, the more you involve yourself with an audience and the more comic sparks fly.
"Nowadays I don't need to look in the local papers to find out information about a particular town. I can go on Wikipedia and find out everything I need to know about a place in an hour."
One of the highlights of the show will be the song that Rich sings about every single town where he is performing. The comedian, who has also starred in such TV shows as Stand Up For The Week, QI, Live at the Apollo, Channel 4’s Comedy Gala Live at the O2, Have I Got News for You, and Never Mind The Buzzcocks, says that, “I will do a specific song in every single town. I will build a structured song around the information I gather about each place I'm in. I will take into account the history of that town and what it is known for. I will also bring in things that have happened during the first half the show.
“Whenever I ask, ‘what's this place famous for?’, I always get an amazing response. Recently they have mainly been downbeat stories about closed factories. Someone is always hacked off that they don't make trouser presses there anymore. So I take the Woody Guthrie approach and turn it into a song!”
Rich, who has also presented such critically acclaimed documentaries as How The West Was Lost, Rich Hall’s The Dirty South, Rich Hall’s Continental Drifters, Rich Hall's Cattle Drive and Rich Hall's Gone Fishing, continues to get a real thrill out of live comedy.
He asserts that, “I have always loved doing live comedy more than anything else. I adore the electricity of it. I like being in that moment. There is nothing sanitized about that, it’s very real. You have to really think on your feet, and that always keeps it interesting. I really enjoy making documentaries and writing books – I get a lot of pleasure out of that finished product. But above all I love the fleeting nature of stand-up. When it's over, it's not coming back, and I love that ephemeral quality.”
The comedian, who has also enjoyed a hugely successful career on the other side of the Atlantic where he has written for and appeared on Saturday Night Live and The David Letterman Show, for which Rich won two Emmy Awards, is brilliant at bantering with his audience. He observes that, “I get a real buzz from that interaction.
“Anything that anyone says on the night becomes a key word that you can play off. A lot of people make fun of comedians for asking someone where they're from, but often that is all you need to raise the level of a show and go somewhere with it. Frequently what people do for a living becomes a real feature of the show. It's unique for that audience and for the comedian.
“The crucial thing is that you never belittle people in the audience. You always try to elevate what they say. So when someone says, 'I breed frogs in a biology lab", you don't want to belittle that. In fact, the more mundane you can stay about that, the funnier it is. For example, if someone said they were an RAF pilot, I would probably write a song on the spot about a hero in a mundane situation. I'd sing about an RAF pilot having to rescue an orphaned puppy in a jet!"
Over the years, the stand-up has cultivated a marvellously grouchy comedy persona. In fact, he is perceived as so crotchety that Matt Groening based the character of Moe, the short-tempered bartender in The Simpsons, on Rich.
Rich points out that we should not confuse the persona with the person. “Audiences are watching this grouchy persona, but most people can see that I'm having a really good time on stage. It's ironic grouchiness. No one can stay worked up about things for that long. Once you have generated a passion about something, it's already passed. Also when people get really angry on stage, it never works. It has to be controlled rage.”
Superb comedy such as Rich’s flourishes even more during a time of recession. The stand-up muses that, “It’s a very restive world we are living in right now, and that is very good for comedy. Comedy always thrives at a time when there is very intense economic hardship. When the world is teetering on the brink of collapse, the purpose of comedians is magnified. Tragedy is always good for laughs. Live comedy is a chance for people to sit back and forget all about how rubbish things are.”
As you can see, this is going to be a dazzling live show from Rich. This wonderfully funny evening will include compelling stories, fantastic one-liners, piercing insights and hilarious songs. It's the perfect night out.
It just makes you wonder what he will make of Newtown!
Tickets are still on sale for Rich Hall at