MITCH BENN: I’M STILL HERE
Mitch Benn hits the stage, as usual talking VERY loud, and VERY fast and at the same time being VERY funny. All much as normal in Benn land. An hour of Benn material would probably take a normal performer an hour and a half. Are we saying Mitch Benn is not normal? We are. Comic songwriting and performing is a pretty niche way of earning a living these days, as he is at pains to tell us. There aren’t many great proponents of the art that one could point to, not since the era of Tom Lehrer (to whom Benn pays considerable tribute) anyway. There are a few, but none as adept as he is. This show, unexpectedly, has no new material aside from the witty song he makes up in the interval from audience suggestions: rather it is a trawl through his back catalogue right back to its beginnings in his post-student Edinburgh days, with some discourse on his seventeen years in That Radio Show and what that was like. He says he’s completely over being sacked now; that he’d been there too long, and it’s better to be out of that bubble. Whether That Show is the better for it is another thing. Tonight’s audience would doubtless say not. This show is indubitably enjoyable; the presence of talent always is – but it does have a slight air of an epitaph, as though he’s drawing his career to a close. It is devoutly to be hoped that this is not the case. No-one can remotely compete with him musically, satirically, comedically, or for passionate commitment. The nation needs more from him, nowadays more than ever.
John Christopher Wood