Nicholas Parsons' Happy Hour

It was immediately evident upon walking into the jam-packed Cabaret Bar that I was significantly changing the demographic awaiting the arrival of radio and television legend and national treasure, Nicholas Parsons. With the exception of five year old Maria in the front row, happily occupied with consuming the smarties Parsons gave her, my 21 year old self was the youngest person by at least a decade, with the average audience member having reached the happy age of retirement.

An hour’s light and humourous entertainment in Parsons’ unique and gentle style

Nicholas Parsons, slightly wobbly on his legs but his wit as firm as ever, entered to uproarious applause: the audience clearly comprised of people who, like me, had been listening to his Radio 4 comedy show Just A Minute (which he first piloted 50 years ago, and has never missed a show of since) for years. The Happy Hour, now in its 16th sell-out year, is a nice and civilised way of spending an evening, listening to Parsons talk about his own experience and deliver charming jokes, interspersed with interviews with other comics, who were given the opportunity to plug their own shows. The line up changes every evening, but tonight featured improvisers Suki Webster and Richard Vranch, musical comedian Adam Kay, and stand-up comedian Patrick Monahan. Suki and Richard chatted about their shows at the Edinburgh Fringe, and about the improv shows they do weekly at London’s Comedy Store.

Adam Kay, a former doctor turned musical comedian, played some of his own medical material, staying safely clear from his iconic London Underground song, due to the fact that the audience ‘was not his usual demographic’ (he’s a bit sweary), and performed some adaptations of Tom Lehrer’s songs instead, including one about nuclear oblivion, which took the audience and Parsons aback. Kay was funny in his own right, coming up with some funny one-liners and quips, exhibiting his own dry sense of humour, but there did appear to be a slight generational clash for your average retired Radio 4 listener.

Finally, comic Patrick Monahan was invited to talk about his own experiences growing up half Irish, half Iranian, making some very quick and funny remarks that both Parsons and the audience enjoyed immensely. After plugging his own show, he left to large applause. Nicholas Parsons then ended the show with some very funny jokes and anecdotes, before playing his very own pop record as the audience crowded around for autographs.

The Happy Hour did what it said on the tin: it provided an hour’s light and humourous entertainment in Parsons’ unique and gentle style, leaving the entire audience feeling entertained and that little bit happier than when they came in. 

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Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now



The Blurb

Join Nicholas Parsons, the legendary host of BBC Radio 4’s Just a Minute, for an unmissable hour of fun and laughter in the company of some very special celebrity guests. Celebrating a magnificent 16 years at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, this sell-out comedy and chat show has previously featured Jason Byrne, John Bishop, Sue Perkins, Shappi Khorsandi, Gyles Brandreth, Micky Flanagan, Michael McIntyre and many more top acts. Total sell-out 2015; don’t miss your chance to join Nicholas and friends in this strictly limited run!

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