Imagine the Flight of the Conchords as adolescents, put them in a room with a young Bill Bailey, add Bo Burnham before he broke out of YouTube and you have (drumroll) Archie Henderson: Jazz Emu.
Archie knows what he’s doing, and it’s great
So here we are, the place is packed, virtually sold out. The only free space is the one my pint is sitting in and I feel like I should have bought an extra ticket. Archie Henderson storms onto stage in song with the first of many laboriously crafted backing tracks accompanying his comedy lyrics. This is our principal insight into how the show will run, and me and my pint like it very much. From here on, we’re company to sound effects, songs, short films, dancing, one liners and physical comedy. Spare a thought for Facebook operas, consider bird song remixes, take a while to ponder how one mind can pluck so many everyday observations and make them musical. I watched Genesis live in concert once and Phil Collins' announcement of 'audience participation time' turned my stomach. Taking part doesn’t always count, sometimes it's for the birds.
Archie’s chosen participator, Gareth, didn’t seem too keen on any of the audience participation, but Archie sticks to the script, ad libs where he has to and I don’t feel sick. Why? Because he’s a well-versed comedian with fun running through his veins, and while his cells may not be boiling with humour they’re definitely infected and the bug is spreading.
Amid the hilarious songs and musical medleys, there are a few man-and-his-mic standup routines. Some of them go off, others not so much. There were murmurs of palpable disagreement when a few of the gags landed badly. But this isn’t the Apollo where the punters are squeezing a giggle out of every penny, this is £10 and it’s worth it. Preparing yourself not to laugh is important when seeing comedy; it’s difficult for all of us when a joke falls flat, and more so when the majority of the show is excellent, which it is.
Archie has honed his talents where they matter. We can’t blame him for the odd lacklustre punchline, because if he assaulted us with one hour of non-stop songs and dancing we’d be sipping our drinks to quash the anxiety. He knows what he’s doing, and it’s great. I hope he just knows and does more and more, because this is a talent that’s on the rise.