Behold, the mighty mirth monsters meet

Centrepoint's Laughing Point. Stewart Lee

There was a memorable moment late in Centrepoint's big Laughing Point show a few weeks back where two comedy titans briefly moved into the same onstage orbit. Stewart Lee headlined, Daniel Kitson compered, and as Kitson concluded his final introduction the two momentarily faced each other. It was as near as I've come comedy-wise to that famous bit in Michael Mann's epic crime thriller Heat, where Al Pacino and Robert De Niro finally met on screen.

It was slightly different in tone to Heat, admittedly. Kitson had been happily dissing Lee for a good few minutes prior to bringing him on, then midway through his set Lee began liaising with the still-in-the-wings Kitson about how improvised one specific bit was. Which may all sound annoyingly self-indulgent to anyone who prefers a more polished, shiny, fresh-faced sort of stand-up, but for some of us, watching these two talking turkey was a full-blown nerdgasm.

Only benefit shows can really do this, bring two such mighty mirth behemoths together (although I do wonder if Lee and his Comedy Central team have ever tried to persuade the famously telly-phobic Kitson to do a guest spot on the The Alternative Comedy Experience). And these bi-annual Centrepoint gigs are clearly attempting to do more than just throw a load of random acts together. At the previous event, for example, they booked the whole Last Leg team and persuaded Alex Brooker to make his stand-up debut, at the preposterously grand Palace Theatre, of all places. Quite a venue for it.

Then again, Centrepoint know a bit about challenging situations. If you haven't come across them before, it's a long-established charity that helps over 1000 homeless young people a year in London and the North East, providing accommodation and more focussed support: mentoring, physical and mental health, and education. There's even a Centrepoint Parliament, raising awareness of homeless issues.

Centrepoint's Laughing Point. Josh Widdicombe

These increasingly impressive, biannual Laughing Point gigs are doing that too (not that the subject really came up at this one, apart from Kitson's very occasional requests for donations, and a tongue-in-cheek dig at the absent Sara Pascoe for caring more about filming Mock The Week than helping the homeless), while also raising an incredibly useful amount of cash: over £20,000 on this occasion.

The only slight downside to the evening was my own impatient anticipation, like a spoiled child at Christmas tearing rudely through the stocking-fillers to get on with opening the big one. In truth, I'm not sure I actually took in a word of penultimate act Josh Widdicombe's probably perfectly reasonable set. Which made the next event particularly extraordinary: half a row of punters behind me promptly got up and left, just before the big handover.

They were on a time limit with the car parking, apparently, but certainly weren't missed, having become increasingly noisy and annoying (which led Kitson, rather wonderfully, to then encourage anyone else to raise their hands if they had noisy c*nts next to them. No-one did, but the point was made). I wouldn't be at all surprised if that bunch of, er, let's call them nuisances, were mainly there to see the now widely popular Widdicombe and had absolutely no interest in Lee or Kitson at all. You pays your money...

Perhaps we should introduce special ticketing for big-name charity gigs like this, where you can turn up late, pay, ooh, a fiver and fill up any empty seats left by such bewildering headliner-deniers. Every little helps.

For more details about Centrepoint's fine work, visit

Share this page