Utterly brilliaaant!

I guess you had to be there. But many were. Martin White and Danielle Ward’s Karaoke Circus came to the legendary 100 Club on London’s busy Oxford Street last night. For those not acquainted with the franchise, this is an all-star karaoke evening with live band – Martin, Danielle, David Reed, Foz Foster. This riotous, good-natured conveyor belt of song, on which assorted comics and performers test the very limits of their vocal abilities in the name of unpretentious musical entertainment, also allows members of the audience to try their hand too, and the whole thing is judged, Britain’s Got Talent-style, by the cruel-but-fair Dan Maier (TV Burp) and The Baron (catchphrase: “utterly brilliaaant!”); and only two clowns are involved. Usually to be found in the club-like subterranean confines of the Albany on Great Portland Street, or in festival tents, the Circus went up two gears last night: a much bigger venue, plus a full orchestra (arranged and conducted by Martin, who really is a dynamo), and, on acoustic for Rock’n’Roll Suicide, Mikey from David Devant & His Spirit Wife. (There are Devant threads running through the whole operation, actually. And I went to art school with him, too.)

Thus were we treated to the likes of actor Kevin Eldon belting out Elbow’s One Day Like This, poet John Hegley scat-singing Sunny Side Of The Street, Bridget Christie actually dressed as Kate Bush for Wuthering Heights, Isy Suttie (Peep Show) giving it loads to Piano Man, the Penny Dreadfuls gamely attacking Under Pressure, Waen Shepherd (most recently scene as the paedophile teacher in The Inbetweeners) taking the roof off with the aforementioned Rock’n’Roll Suicide, Miles Jupp being drowned out by the audience for Come On Eileen, and utterly brilliaaant, or certainly brave renditions of Nobody Does It Better, Sabotage and Living On A Prayer. And, yes, me, doing the theme from The Wire aka Tom Waits’ Way Down In The Hole, for which I borrowed Foz’s trilby and wore a pretend “soul tooth” beard under my lip, which fell off, theatrically, before the third verse, where I forgot the lines, “and they’ll protect you with their wings/and keep you close to the Lord”, but hardly anybody noticed and even less cared. No, it wasn’t recorded, unless somebody was bootlegging the evening, so you’ll just have to imagine it, and look at Paul Bailey’s nice pictures, the full set of which can be found here.

Which means I have been onstage at the 100 Club, with a clown playing a saw behind me. What a ridiculous life. (A special tip of the hat to bassoonist Caroline Mabey and saxophonist Arec Koundarjian, who accompanied me as Tom Waits.)


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