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Live / stage review

Rhys James brings comedy back to the Leadmill in style

The line-up of comedy heading to the space over the next few months is the stuff of dreams. Rhys James' four-time postponed show, Snitch, was a great way to kick things off .

21 July 2021 at
Rhys james comedian

It’s very exciting to be able to welcome live music and comedy back to the Leadmill, a venue whose stage hasn’t been present to a full-capacity audience in quite some time.

The line-up of comedy heading to the space over the next few months is the stuff of dreams as the likes of Simon Amstel, Sindhu Vee and Olga Koch all grace the stage. The first to kick off this run of shows was Rhys James with his four-time postponed show, Snitch. And what a great way to kick things off it was.

There was a strange trepidation in the room on the night, which can be put down to the fact that the gig happened only two days after all legal Covid restrictions were dropped. There was uncertainty as to what the rules were and this was reflected at the gig, as seated spectators tried leave an empty space between other groups and there was a mixture of people with and without masks. As any good comedian would, James sensed this the moment he stepped out onto the stage and immediately made light of it.

“Are you happy about the heat?” he asked before being met with mild groans of approval from a sweaty crowd. “Are you happy about restrictions being lifted?” Again, a similar response as people were still unsure what to think. “Fuck,” he said, “Are you happy about anything?”

After that, he began joking about Sheffield, complimenting the fountain outside the train station before pondering whether it was a ruse because everything else in the city is terrible.

After the first half, any sense of unease in the crowd was gone. The majority of the set was made up of some material about relationships tied in with jokes about lockdown, a particular favourite being the absurdity in the fact that a sentence like, “I’ve been pinged, but it’s okay I’m double jabbed, I’ll tell my bubble,” now makes absolute sense.

Not only is his delivery perfect, but he also comes with a sweet self-deprecating side. Even if a joke lands, if it's a bad pun or something silly, he apologies and promises to never tell the joke again. He topped off the first half by promising that the second would be funnier.

And while I disagree that the first half wasn’t that funny, there is no doubt that the second half was really where the show came into its own. The piece revolved around an email he got from an old school asking him to go back and give a talk to inspire the kids. He found this absurd; kids shouldn’t need motivating because they don’t know what they want to do, but also because of his own apparent lack of success. “Let’s face it,” he said, “This show is not full capacity and not sold out.”

The whole thing tied together in the most perfect way as his ability to call back and loop the whole show together paid off with an amazing closing joke, before he took a bow. Despite not doing live shows for a long time, James proved himself still a master of the stage as he had a cautious Leadmill crowd in the palm of his hand from the minute he picked up the mic.

If, in these strange times, rather than worry you would like someone to make light of things, check out which comedic acts are heading to the Leadmill soon.

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