Live at the Apollo – Series Eight: Review

Live at the Apollo, 9 45pm, Saturday 17 November, BBC 1

So Live at the Apollo series eight.

Nothing new here, it’s the same set up, Dara O’Briain opens the show and chats away for a bit in is usual amiable and amusing way and then introduces a couple of acts to fill the remaining 20 minutes.

Actually, hold on a minute. Reading the BBC blurb on the new series it states that they are having a ‘national favourite’ host each episode. Is that a new thing or have they been doing it for a while? And by a ‘national favourite’ do they just mean Dara O’Briain? Every time I watch the programme it’s
Dara O’Briain, in fact every time I watch any comedy show it’s Dara O’Briain.

Anyway, cracking on.

Nina was first up. Miss Conti has been around for a while, I remember her popping up as romantic interest for Bernard in an episode of Black Books many years ago. I don’t know why I remember this as frankly she was as wooden and stiff as Pinocchio at a strip-bar.

In recent years though, she has given up her interpretation of acting and has reinvented herself as comedian. Retroactively taking her cue from my previous description of her dramatic talent, she has become a comedic ventriloquist. I didn’t find this convincing either but something has changed, something very important; she is now funny.

Conti has never struck me as the most confident of performers but she has certainly developed and in this episode she had a gimmick I have never seen before. Taking two audience members and hooking them up with animatronic masks that only cover the lower part of the face, Conti was able to turn audience participation into puppetry. She contrived a wee romance between the participants and at the same time gently mocked their little idiosyncrasies. It really worked and I laughed and snorted throughout.

The next funny person brought forth to entertain was young Scots comic, Danny Bhoy. Nothing ground breaking or new in his act just some neat jokes on the Scottish and their National character. The usual stereotypical observations (that we all know to be true) of them drinking and getting into trouble with the law. Danny Bhoy is not the funniest of comics but he spins a good line and has a pleasant, vaguely laddish demeanour on stage that could well see him being snaffled up by the likes Mock the Week at some point.

So there you go, live at the Apollo. If you like stand-up comedy, you’ll no doubt like this.