Hal Cruttenden is an accomplished comedian. This is accomplished comedy. Sometimes provocative, sometimes self-deprecating,
An excellent showcase of Cruttenden’s profound and proven talent for comedy.
Cruttenden navigates a huge range of topics with consummate ease. He strides over well trodden comic ground in his portrayal of living with teenage daughters and his private school “posh boy” guilt. More adventurously, he proceeds to compare 21st Century terrorism to the IRA and to elaborate a very particular stance towards orphanhood. It is this seemingly effortless ability to career from the mundane to the provocative with gives the show much of its charm; Cruttenden manages to retain the comedic impetus of the performance whilst showing a respect for the sensitive issues he deals with. Although both the method and topic of comedy change many times throughout the show, the outcome never does; Straight Outta Cruttenden is absolutely and consistently hilarious.
Cruttenden also displays the mark of a confident comedian in his interactions with the audience. He is unafraid to interrupt his set when the moment arises, and it arises frequently. He insults latecomers and toilet-goers. He empathises with difficult jobs and mocks unsuccessful students. He wishes repeatedly for a less boozy crowd. He does all this whilst resisting the temptation to be nasty, so that even those who are the subject of his ire cannot resist a laugh. This is a sign of a talented comedian, but also of a smart comedian. The intelligence shown in his audience interaction, in his quick-wittedness and his reading of the crowd, translated into his scripted material as well. He offers an interesting perspective on sexism and analyses, with startling subtly, the evolving relationship between personal grief and social media.
The show did not, perhaps could not, sustain its blistering pace, with audience interaction occasionally less successful and some lapses of energy apparent. At points, his conversations with audience members seemed to disrupt the flow of his set. Even here, though, the force of Cruttenden’s delivery and the inventiveness of his narrative saw him through comfortably.
Straight Outta Cruttenden is an excellent showcase of Cruttenden’s profound and proven talent for comedy. Worth the ticket price and more.