‘We Are Funny’ review: underground comedy brought to light

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The crowd prepares for the start of a series of stand-up comedic performances at "We Are Funny". Credit: Amanda Cashmore/Hackney Post

Farr’s School of Dancing, 17 – 19 Dalston Lane, London E8 3DF.

3 out of 5 stars

A comedy gig in an underground bar in Dalston was everything you would expect. It was only missing a brick wall and a spotlight. The We Are Funny Project runs a free comedy night three evenings a week at Farr’s School of Dancing, offering both novice comedians and veterans the chance to test out their latest material.

The host for the first half of Monday night’s show was Darren Griffiths, who did a fantastic job of warming up the crowd with his fascination with the potential romance between a pair who had just met on the front row, much to the audience’s delight.

The performers included talent from all over London, as well as Italy and America. Each act was given five minutes to bring the funny. This kept the night moving along, and meant that the novice comedians were not given an impossible task.

The crowd prepares for the start of a series of stand-up comedic performances at "We Are Funny". Credit: Amanda Cashmore/Hackney Post
The crowd prepares for the start of a series of stand-up comedic performances at “We Are Funny”. Credit: Amanda Cashmore/Hackney Post

Sam Rhodes, the headline act for the first half, was disappointing. His performance was confident and engaging, and the ridiculousness of his script was, at first, entertaining – but this quickly waned. His major flaw was that his material was funny simply because it was surprising. Continuing along an “alternative humour” line is difficult to sustain, and shocked laughter soon became forced smiles from the audience.

After an opportunity to whet their whistles at the bar upstairs during a 10 minute interval, the audience returned to a new host for the second half, Steve Lee.

Lee began his set by pulling the unfortunate fledgling couple from the front row up onto the stage, to have a ‘joke-off’ reading pre-written material by him, gaining many laughs from the audience.

Bennett Bonci, a comedian from Seattle (and writer for Hackney Post), amused the audience with his comparison of comedians and rappers, and delighted the room with a rap of his own.

Bennett Bonci at "We Are Funny"
Seattle comedian Bennett Bonci performs at “We Are Funny” in Dalston. Credit: Amanda Cashmore/Hackney Post

The highlight of the second half was the headline act, Stu Turner; a comedian-cum-magician with tricks up his sleeve (and in his mouth). Turner invited a member of the audience up on stage as a glamorous assistant for a card trick, asking his helper to write a word on the card and hide it in the pack. Turner then produced it from his mouth later on in the set, to the amazement of the audience.

The night was entertaining on the whole, showing off a range of talent from all over the world, in a friendly and supportive environment. The novice comedians had the opportunity to try out their material, and were rewarded with genuine laughs from the punters.           

"We Are Funny" set list
The set list of “We Are Funny”. Credit: Faye White/Hackney Post

Faye White contributed to this report.