Rich Hall’s Hoedown – Edinburgh Fringe review

Giddy up and go see comedy veteran Rich Hall in a show that will win over hardened musical comedy sceptics

Rich Hall's Hoedown

It’s a strange state of affairs when Rich Hall becomes a surprise package, but the comedy veteran appears to have found another gear. What we might be witnessing at the 2013 Fringe is Hall’s creative peak, with his stand-up show at 9.30pm then immediately following it, his Hoedown.

The Hoedown is quite simply brilliant musical comedy, fronted by Hall in big white Stetson and his country band behind. It transpires that country is an ideal genre from comedy with its simple structures and strong cadences, so that the songs are kept simple, and the key words in Hall’s lyrics really land like a heavy cowboy boot. And that voice, my god, it sounds like he’s gargling Texan crude.

The Spiegeltent Palazzo feels like the right place for the show as a music gig, it having a touch of Grand Ole Opry glamour to it, though for comedy you do lose vital intimacy, and seeing the Hoedown here doesn’t compare with seeing it at the Soho Theatre downstairs. Still, the range and flow of Hall’s lyrics are impeccable – these are songs that will win over hardened musical comedy sceptics (of which I’m probably one).

If the Mosque Is a Rocking, and I Can’t Give You Anything But Love From Behind are highlights (great titles, no?), and his take-down of Bob Dylan is both brilliant and timely.

You can see Hall’s sharp comic mind most vividly when he chats to the audience. Someone of his experience won’t be fazed of course but time after time he summons something witty from an apparent cul-de-sac.

There’s actually quite a lot of pretty clichéd material in the Hoedown, such as his quick tour of Britain which tells us that, shock horror, Geordies don’t feel the cold and Scousers nick your hub caps. But it’s done with such lyricism that you may as well be hearing it for the first time.

It’s one of the late-night shows to see this year, and I can see why it won the coveted Barry award at Melbourne Comedy Festival earlier this year. No doubt about it, Hall’s on a high.

4 stars
Review written by Paul Fleckney
• Rich Hall’s Hoedown is on at Assembly George Square at 11pm

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