Upon entering the Gulbenkian main entrance one finds the far end of the café walled off by a curtain. It produces a small performance space with more of a comedy club intimacy. As one of the evening’s comics Tom Taylor’s barbed description put it: “The sort of venue comedy might be performed at, were it to be made illegal.”
The evening is kicked off by the organiser and Emcee Oliver Double, breaking the performance atmosphere with some tried and true methods of warming up an audience, picking on one particular member, chosen for their shyness, to embarrass with a song. His short opening set was a mixture of outdated popular reference points and uncomfortably raw topical material, culminating in the sing-along number “Scary Statistics”. It invites audience members to contribute their best description of our prime minister Boris Johnson, to be sent to him personally.
He then invited the first of the guests on, the aforementioned Tom Taylor. Another musical comedian, Taylor has more of an eccentric, awkward persona, seated at his keyboard delivering self-deprecating one-liners about “having a C in English as a foreign language”. The first half was closed out by “a bit weird” alternative comic Alf White, who rose from the audience to confound the audience members with some bravely surreal character comedy, mostly enjoyed by their friends sitting with them.
After a short intermission Double welcomed back the audience with an extended Bridget Christie-esque diatribe read-aloud that left Aaron Banks, co-founder of the Leave EU campaign, on the floor in tatters, alongside a copy of this very newspaper. Christie Hinchcliffe then delivered a strong introduction to the second half with a short, dry satirical set in the vein of Andy Zaltzmann.
Scheduled to perform last was stand-up Jayde Adams, who unfortunately cancelled at the last-minute owing to illness, which led to a 15-minute delay on the opening curtain. The closing set was instead performed by Andre Vincent, stepping in with a considerable air of professionalism, rattling off an effortless last-minute set that proved a near high point of the evening with observational comedy about his life on the festival circuit, going to the doctors and not getting “young people”. He approached the set so well that it feels as if he could have done another hour if demanded. Double then closed the evening out with some fun audience participation and a persuasive invitation to return next month.
Despite some awkward moments which most certainly added to the atmosphere, Funny Rabbit was a playful event that hit its stride as the night went on, where each performer had a clear, immediately definable and distinct persona ensuring something for everyone.
Funny Rabbit is a monthly event staged on campus at the Gulbenkian. The next event will feature Andrew O’Neill and Eleanor Tiernan. Tickets are available at the Gulbenkian box office.