Mitch Benn: That Was the Future

'I find something that I’m passionate about and then write the comedy around that'. This is how Mitch Benn writes his shows, a well-known mix of stand up and musical numbers, and this year he has fallen on the topic of the future. What’s interesting about the future that Benn is talking of is that we are living in it, according to sci-fi films that Benn watched growing up and still enthuses over today. Within context of films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey and Back to the Future, he then proceeds to dissect what sci-fi over the ages has predicted and what it didn’t see coming.

The second half of his set is a lot stronger than his first, focusing on broader subjects and containing his best gags.

It’s clear from the start that Benn isn’t lying about his passion for science fiction. While arguing with an audience member about which is the definitive version of Blade Runner, you can see his enthusiasm for the subject in his eyes and could comfortably argue his point of view till the day’s end. Yet, especially in the first half of his show, while his passionate ranting is impressive to watch, you feel that shared interest in the topic may in fact be necessary at times to fully engage with his comedy.

This inconsistency is also to an extent seen in his musical numbers. While most are outstanding, there are some songs whose punchlines are revealed too early, making some feel like a waiting game, especially when the surrounding stand-up isn’t fully working.

Yet there’s just too much brilliance within Benn’s set to write him off. As said previously, the majority of his songs are fantastic, whether it’s a Billy Joel cover about Pluto, a song about global warming he wrote twenty years ago that’s still both relevant and hysterical, or a time travel number performed using only his smartphone that is a joy to witness.

The second half of his set is a lot stronger than his first, focusing on broader subjects and containing his best gags. He dissects the topic of science fiction with such reason and wit, seen most clearly in his explanation as to why flying cars will never be invented, that in the end the flaws of his show are easily forgotten. 

Reviews by Will Roberts

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The Blurb

The future happened, and we missed it. Mitch considers where we're going, where we thought we were going, and what happens when we get there. A regular member of The Now Show for more than a decade, Mitch has also recently presented Mitch Benn is the 37th Beatle, Spank the Plank and Did Douglas Get it Right? for BBC Radio 4, and co-presented Anatomy of a Guitar with Harry Shearer for BBC Radio 2. 'The country's leading musical satirist' (Times). 'Funny and clever' (Sunday Herald). 'Truly superb' ***** (Young Perspective).