Hyped as one of the stand-out shows on the Edinburgh Fringe, Stamptown has enjoyed a lot of good press. Lauren Kate Hughes went along to Soho Theatre for the variety show’s debut run in London to get in on the action.
Stamptown Comedy positions itself as offering something different from the get-go. Firstly, it has a 10.30pm kick-off at London‘s Soho Theatre; a time late enough to widen the eyes of this morning person. With the later start comes the opportunity for dim sum in nearby Chinatown and pre-show cocktails that act as a little lubrication before a somewhat raunchy assortment of acts (read: full-frontal nudity).
Secondly, it promises a variety show in its truest form. The word eclectic is often banded about, but this time it’s completely appropriate. Perhaps the most recurring theme, at least in my selection of acts (they change from show to show) was a lot of nudity. As stand-up Kemah Bob relays to the audience at the beginning of her set – “Oh, the pressure of being the only fully clothed act of the night”. Each act offers something unique, including Martin Urbano, a critic live-reviewing the show amidst Stamptown’s chaotic line-up.
The show has been much hyped, with sell-out shows at the Edinburgh Fringe, numerous accolades on the awards circuit and a stellar review from the New York Times already under its (sequined) belt. Eager to see what happens during a show that promises to be more akin to a wild night out rather than a middle-of-the-road stand-up show, we headed out on a cold January night and settled into the welcoming bosom of Stamptown’s Soho debut.
In essence, Stamptown is a variety show with different acts weaved loosely together by compere Jack Tucker (IRL name, Zach Zucker) a native New Yorker with a style that’s as hectic as its acts and the creator of Stamptown. The crowd was intimate but interactive, with the mood shifting from hushed giggles to full-bellied laughs as each performer took the stage.
Zach, who’s also an award-winning actor and producer, believes comedy always should be intimate, previously telling Vulture: ‘There is nothing inherently cool, interesting, or morally good about selling out a 300-seater. That’s 300 people who you don’t know and don’t care about. A real comic doesn’t need hundreds of people laughing at their jokes.’
If I had to describe the night in one word, it would be raucous. If I’m allowed two, it’s unique. The format is chaotic, the vibe is wild; it offers a smörgåsbord of performance styles befitting of Soho itself.
There’s burlesque, interpretive dance, stand-up, satire, drag, clowns, characters and singers. Each act demands attention; wallflowers and filler acts don’t exist here. Zach’s narration and the acts he introduces are both completely unhinged, but that’s the fun of Stamptown; you can lose your mind a little.
My favourite acts of the night? It’s hard to choose. But I’d say a stand-up act who ranted on the absurdity of sea salt had me chuckling along gleefully (loyal Maldon shopper right here). As well as a burlesque dancer in a sparkling bikini who did hypnotic things with her bottom. A special mention also goes to roller-skating bubbler Dylan Woodley, who managed to loosen up the crowd with some upbeat dance tracks and an unhealthy amount of Jason Derulo.
I won’t spoil the ending, but hold onto your hats. Because our saucy fire-breathing cowboy certainly doesn’t.
To find out more, visit stamptowncomedy.com