I’m going to start simply: Liam Mullone is funny – much more so than his association with Russell Howard’s Good News would suggest. He is acerbic, he is well-informed and he quickly supersedes the expectations set by his dire promotional photo. However, he does himself an injustice by stumbling over self-imposed impediments which prevent his intuitive wit from getting the recognition that it deserves.
The set suffers from a lack of coherence. There is no spine to the show and the title, Game Over, is never even alluded to. This is not to say that all comedians should have a tightly-woven narrative arc, but the show suffers from a few too many cumbersome changeovers, resulting in attention and energy dropping away. It all feels a little haphazard, as though these jokes are designed for an autocue. This is the comic writer in him and it is not the only time that such a presence is felt.
He is a comedian who is yet to find his stand-up identity. As the show progresses, Mullone’s similarities to the renowned and well-loved comedian Stewart Lee become all the more prevalent. Mullone’s caustic assessment of the world is akin to – if not quite as refined as – Lee’s material and his style therefore naturally errs towards his counterpart. There is nothing wrong with admiring and aspiring to the credibility of arguably Britain’s best comedian, but this aspiration has segued into imitation. Mullone drops his head away from the audience and fiddles with the mic stand beside him; he litters his execution with rhetorical ‘doesn’t it’s and ‘isn’t it’s. Such affectations, anyone familiar with Lee’s stand-up cannot fail to notice, foreground the emulative nature of the routine. Yet, Lee does it so well that any comparisons drawn between the two will only do Mullone disfavour, rendering him a cheap imitation as opposed to the unique comic voice he is in his own right.
His natural talent has been felt in many television and radio shows where others are the stars, but his stand-up cannot quite circumvent the writer in him. Mullone cites a reviewer who has criticised him for a lack of memorable conclusion in his previous stand-up and he amusingly seeks to remedy this in Game Over. My criticisms, too, are levelled only in the hope that they may lead to his elevation up the ladder of comedy. His show is otherwise excellent. Covering the Italian-Roman divide, the linguistic avenues of Guy Ritchie films, British newspapers, and the scepticism of Scooby Doo, Mullone reveals just how far his incisive thought ranges. His process is thoughtful and unpredictable in equal measure, and his jokes refuse to fall into lazy observation or unrefined condescension. As far as I’m concerned, I hope this game is just starting.