Cumbria Crack
Arts

Rich Hall’s Hoedown

Rich Hall

[R]ich Hall returns to Cumbria in September with his Hoedown band as they begin their second leg of touring this autumn with their Hoedown show.

Never has there been a better time to be an American comedian in the UK.

Hall’s precision dismantling of the tenuous relationship between the two countries is as freewheeling and deadly accurate as ever.

This Hoedown tour begins as a withering dissection of Trump’s America and all of its twists and turns, but ends up in a celebration of Americana. There’s stand-up, improvised ballads, cracking good musicianship, and ultimately a hilarious, foot-stomping good time to be had by all. Even if you don’t own a hoe.

Rich Hall’s Hoedown kicks off in September 2017 with over 40 dates announced so far across the UK and Ireland. Please see full listings information below. Tickets are on sale now!

Rich’s most recent critically acclaimed BBC Four documentaries, ‘Rich Hall’s Countrier Than You’ and ‘Rich Hall’s Presidential Grudge Match’, as well as his BBC Radio 4 series Rich Hall’s (US Election) Breakdown, have built him a whole new legion of followers, as have appearances on BBC One’s Have I Got News For You and BBC Two’s QI. But if you’ve only ever seen Hall on TV, you’ve short-changed yourself.

Rich Hall’s grouchy, deadpan style has established him as a master of absurdist irony and the king of rapid-fire wit. Notable UK appearances include regular appearances on ‘Very British Problems’ (Channel 4), ‘Stand Up For The Week’ (Channel 4), ‘Live At The Apollo’ (BBC1), ‘Channel 4’s Comedy Gala Live At The O2’, ‘Have I Got News For You’ (BBC1), ‘Rich Hall’s Cattle Drive’ (BBC4), ‘Rich Hall’s Gone Fishing’ (BBC4), ‘Otis Lee Crenshaw – London Not Tennessee’ (BBC2), and ‘Never Mind The Buzzcocks’ (BBC2).

Rich Hall is rightly regarded as one of the funniest comedians to come out of the US in recent times. And, as he is based here most of the time, we in this country have over the past three decades been lucky enough to benefit from his wonderfully grouchy sense of humour.

Now, I’m delighted to report, ‎we are about to enjoy more of his unique, crotchety comedy, as he is setting off on a nationwide tour with his brilliant ‘Hoedown’.

The comedian, who has won both a Perrier (Edinburgh Comedy Festival) and a Barry (Melbourne International Comedy Festival) Award, is the most dazzlingly funny curmudgeon in The West.

Rich’s straight-talking and acerbic comedy leaves his targets reeling and his audiences in stitches. He sends up whichever country he is in, but perhaps reserves his most trenchant scorn for his native USA.

He is a superb live performer but don’t just take my word for it. Critics have long praised Rich’s highly original deadpan style (which was the inspiration for the marvelously cantankerous barman, Moe Szyslak, in The Simpsons).

The Guardian raves that, “Now is the time to grab this chance to see the great man at work”. The Sunday Mirror, meanwhile, calls the comedian, “Captivating and brilliant… His ability to make the room guffaw was worthy of standing applause”. While the Sun’s review is short and sweet: “Rich Hall is a comedy phenomenon”. Quite.

In the run-up to the tour, Rich takes some time out to chat with me. You will no doubt be very pleased to learn that this particular comedian is just as funny in an interview as he is on stage.

Rich, who has presented such critically acclaimed BBC 4 documentaries as ‘Rich Hall’s Californian Stars’, ‘Rich Hall’s You Can Go To Hell, I’m Going To Texas’, ‘Rich Hall’s Inventing the Indian’ and his most recent, ‘Rich Hall’s Presidential Grudge Match’, begins by underlining how excited he is to be performing live once again. “I love being on stage”.

“I love the fact that when a live show is over, it’s gone. It’s happened, and it will never happen like that again. It can’t be replicated. That’s a great magical moment.”

Rich, who is also an accomplished author and has released three books, ‘Magnificent Bastards’, ‘I Blame Society’ and ‘Things Snowball’, all published by Abacus Books, thrives on the spontaneity of live comedy.

He observes that, “In every single show, there are always two or three moments where I’m thinking, ‘Wow, where did that come from?’ You’re constantly thinking on your feet.”

One of the many unique features of Rich’s act is that he goes out of his way to find out about the town he is playing in and then improvises a song on stage about it. He goes the extra mile to tailor-make his material for that particular venue. “I try to tap into what is happening locally and address that musically by writing an improvised song based on the town I’m in.”

Audiences really appreciate this bespoke comedy. “Once they realise you’re not just trotting out your regular act, people think, ‘He’s made a real effort. He’s on our side, so we’re on his side.” Then you can take them anywhere.

“I like to do something custom-made every night, otherwise you would just be like a robot. That can really wear you down. Nobody gets more sick of hearing their own voice than a comedian.”

Rich, who was also enjoyed huge success as his country and western musician alter ego, Otis Lee Crenshaw, carries on that, “When you’re improvising a song, you think, ‘I may never do this on again, but it’s a special moment for everyone here’.

“You want to reach the point where audiences say, ‘I’d like to see that guy again’. You want to deliver the goods and be Old Reliable.”

The stand-up is one of only a handful of performers who can genuinely combine comedy and music in one act.

He says that, “I will have such a great collection of musicians on stage for the Hoedown. Having a band there makes it a much richer experience – if you’ll pardon the phrase!”

The comedian, who released his third stand-up DVD ‘Rich Hall: 3:10 To Humour’ in November last year explains that, “Music works in my show because it connects with people on a very personal level. A lot of comedians just come on stage and say, ‘I was on a bus and I passed so and so.”

“But that’s just a reaction to something rather than a specific, custom-made song that engages people. The magic is more important than the material. People really respond to that.”

The stand-up’s other trademark is anger, and he is capable of using that to very effective comic ends. Rich comments that, “It is always good to articulate anger.

“If you don’t, you’re merely preaching to the converted and asking, ‘Have you ever noticed?’ Yes, we are paying you to notice things we haven’t already noticed!”

Before he has to go, Rich reflects once more on what he loves so much about touring. “I’m not a big showbiz hound,” he muses, “but for me being on stage is the most satisfying thing imaginable.”

A sentiment with which Rich’s legions of fans would no doubt wholeheartedly agree.

Rich’s latest audio CD ‘Working Dog’ is currently available to buy on CD and download now from store.offthekerb.co.uk.

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