1st March 2019: Unabashed Stand-up with a Drunken Audience to Boot
Stephen Bailey rocked the house at the Rondo theatre Friday, March 1– delivering a night of big laughs and even bigger scandals. The renowned comedian hosts Celebs on the Farm, as well as appears on Comedy Central’s Roast and Live on the Comedy Store. This “Superstar in the making,” according to British Comedy Guide, had the audience laughing all night with jokes about working, online dating, and past performances. Even as a person who sometimes struggles with the more graphic jokes, I found myself comfortably laughing along with Bailey’s dirtier jokes, as he provided a fun and welcoming environment where everyone could laugh and enjoy themselves.
I’ll admit, however, that this review falls more in line with a story; although Bailey’s set was funny enough on its own, certain audience members that night provided their own entertainment. The crowd featured a joined stag and hen party featuring the groom and bride to be (“Someone has trust issues,” said Bailey) that arrived at the Rondo bar more than tipsy and ready to drink. For those who may not be familiar, a stag and hen party is another term for the bachelor and bachelorette party in the UK– why they use animals in the term, however, is beyond me. That night certainly helped illuminate the inner-workings of the term though, as it was a zoo before the event even started. As the lights dimmed and the room brimmed with excitement, the drunk stags and hens shushed each other in the silence that followed from across the room– despite the fact that no one was talking. After a minute or so, the party recognized that they were shushing each others’ shushes, and Bailey came out on stage to realize what the rest of us in the audience had already learned: that the audience itself was performing tonight.
For the rest of the night, Bailey bantered with the drunk stag and hen party– at one point he said, “I’m not even using half my material– I’m just going off you guys.” Turning what might’ve been an awkward audience for another comedian into a comedic opportunity, Bailey integrated the stag and hen party into his set, wanting to know more about them. The audience became more acquainted with everyone in attendance, especially a particular, “bachelor” named Valentine– who proved to be quite the flirt with another woman during the performance. Bailey made a show of the affair, throwing Valentine her scarf and setting up a date between the two of them. Bailey and the rest of the audience was horrified to learn, however, that Valentine is not a bachelor at all, and is in fact married, with a wife at home. The night was a roller coaster through and through, but Bailey handled it not only with ease but also with an infectious sense of humor that made the night all the more enjoyable.
Overall, people left Bailey performance at the Rondo in high spirits (whether literally or figuratively depends on if you were with the stags and hens). Bailey’s light-hearted and brassy stand-up gives audience members a fun night of comedy that many are sure to come back for– I know I would (and will, if he ever comes to the States).