The Bongo Club is more accustomed to hosting face-chewing ravers than sweet-chewing kiddies, but this evening the kindergarten has taken over. Row after row of chairs is filled with excitable children and mildly-excitable parents, assembled to witness the side-splitting spectacle that is Comedy Club 4 Kids. There will be no swearing, no sex and no nudity, unless you count comedian Matt Richardson’s bared midriff. Body parts and bodily fluids are still permitted, but only on the proviso that they’re referred to as willies, boobs, pee-pee and poop respectively.
The concept behind this junior comedy show is a great one: expose kids to comedy from a young age and entertain them for an hour while throwing in enough intelligent jokes to keep the adults laughing along. Sadly, great concepts alone do not make for great Fringe shows; the success of any production falls squarely on the shoulders of the cast delivering it. Comedy Club 4 Kids doesn’t so much fall at this hurdle as career face-first into it.
If there’s one thing to be learned from this show, it’s that adult comedians should stick to doing adult comedy. Matt Richardson stumbles his way through 20 minutes of confused stand-up that’s intended to appeal to grown-ups and kids alike, but somehow contrives to alienate both. Never mind, for the next comic will surely remedy the malaise that has induced a bout of mass-fidgeting in the venue. Apparently he’s ‘a graduate of Comedy Club 4 Kids’ – what could possibly go wrong?
Apart from everything, nothing. Our pint-sized performer takes to the stage, cue cards in hand, and nervously runs through some corny routines that even South Park’s Jimmy Valmer would balk at. There is something truly bizarre – and mildly terrifying – about the spectacle of a teenager stood in front of a pre-teen audience, awkwardly attempting adult comedy. Is this Comedy Club 4 Kids or Comedy Club of Kids? And more to the point, where’s the comedy? Quite what the eight-year-olds make of the routine about the provenance of frozen pizza is anyone’s guess.
With enough alcohol and the right line-up, this comedy show might just pass muster as an adult spectacle, but whatever you do – don’t take the kids.