Mitch Benn: Don’t Fear the Reaper

It’s clear immediately Mitch Benn’s latest show doesn’t do much small. He’s a big man with a big voice here to put on a big show. Having been going 20 years, he’s a familiar face on television to comedy fans by now. For the unaware he’s a comedy guitarist clearly steeped in classic rock, and for this show those influences are the fore.

Time was he mostly played in a singer-songwriter vein, just him and his acoustic, but for this show there’s a great deal of backing music and distortion. This lends his opening epic about a rock ‘n’ roll zombie apocalypse to really fill the room, and elevates it from sadly goofy to wonderfully goofy. It’s technically rather impressive as well, given that much of the additional music and effects seem to be done on Benn’s phone.

To no-ones surprise, the show meditates much on human mortality, but doesn’t languish in morbidity. Benn’s attitude to oblivion is as upbeat as you might expect from what amounts to a modern day bard, and there’s some delightful musings on the subject dotted around the set list.

He’s mostly great company, but at times comes off a little too curmudgeonly for the affable, witty geek he seems to be. Some of the easier jokes the show could honestly do without. My plea to all comedians is to please stop doing Donald Trump material unless you’re absolutely sure it’s going to smash it. There’s not a lot of jokes left to made about this literal walking joke, and one ironic quip about him ending the world sounds much like another.

The show closer is a nice note to end on, if a little panic-inducing, and is preceded by an acapella tune built by layer upon layer of looping vocals that was brilliantly performed. It’s let down by some weak observational stuff in the vein mentioned above. What’s most impressive is how solid the songs are, even when they’re not being particularly witty they’re great songs in their own right. The rest isn’t brilliant, and Benn’s at his best when banging out a tune, but there’s enough banging out of tunes to make for a good show.

★★★ (and a half)

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