OF Coastival’s three comedians, Count Arthur Strong was the funniest.
But not everyone gets his humour, and some at the Spa on Saturday were non-plussed by Steve Delaney’s clever portrayal of a stiff-shouldered, old-fashioned buffoon with pretensions to grandeur living on imagined former glories.
A master of malapropism, Arthur confuses everyone around him, but mostly himself, with his continual struggle with the English language. He follows in the illustrious footsteps of champion word-manglers like Ronnie Barker, Eric Idle and Stanley Unwin.
The more exasperated he becomes, the more irritable, bewildered and flustered he is, belittling his poor guests with vituperative put-downs.
He edged onto the stage backwards and insisted the whole theatre was the wrong way round for a show billed as Count Arthur Strong’s Commando Performance.
Fans of his shows on Radio 4 and elsewhere weren’t surprised when he hit the bottle during a cookery show involving a microwave oven and lots of wine.
I was in stitches from start to finish.
Iranian comic Shappi Khorsandi, inset, was disappointing as she didn’t quite hit her stride and dried up after plugging the audience but conspicuously failing to produce gags from some of the answers.
She talked about her divorce, the UK election, her comedy hero Charlie Chaplin, Ann Widdecombe, her dyslexia and her feminist, atheist, unconventional dad.
Shappi contrasted with Jon Richardson, who shared Sunday’s double bill, and who had a smoother delivery and was much more engaging.
From Swindon, he said he said he always got funny looks when he booked a double room on his own, as he did at a local B&B.
His subjects included sexual abstinence, addiction, his gran’s preoccupation with Alzheimer’s and her perplexion at a newspaper headline ‘Pope enters Jordan’.
In spite of his show being called Don’t Worry Be Happy, he professed to have a very negative world view. He said he hated everything, especially Leeds United, Geordies and the immoral behaviour of footballers John Terry and Andy Carroll.
The shows were arranged in conjunction with the Other Side Comedy Club.