Ivo Graham, Leila Navabi, Paddy Young - Mark Muldoon's Comedy Diary

Ivo Graham

Congratulations to Ivo Graham on his promotion to the comedy big leagues, off the back of his appearance on little-known niche TV series Taskmaster.

You may have heard that he didn't exactly cover himself in glory on that series, but he can console himself with the fact that, as is perhaps predictable, he's now selling out bigger rooms as a result. His previous tours have tended to be great, so has he ensured his first show after his big mainstream breakthrough is his best one yet?

Well, the written material here is nearly all high quality: this tour is called Organised Fun and it's tightly themed around, well, organised fun. Maybe to its own detriment. A section recalling an attempt to recreate TV series The Traitors is only passable, and that's speaking as someone who loved the hit BBC show - you do wonder what the non-fans in the room are making of it.

Elsewhere, what remains of the storytelling and audience-chit chat segments are fun and rewarding (one particular climactic punchline about J.K. Rowling falls flat here in Blackheath. No fault of Ivo's: it's an amazing way to end a section). The only problem is that there isn't enough remaining: a large proportion of the show is given over to actual organised fun: in this instance various parlour games Ivo plays with the audience. He's put thought into it and - as a result - they sometimes yield comedy magic, but at other times they just feel like plain old filler. He's inarguably got the charm and off-the-cuff skill to get away with it, but still, you're used to a higher class of show from this particular comic.

Leila Navabi

Leila Navabi explains, in their show Composition, how they only tried stand-up for the first time mid-pandemic. Clearly it all went pretty well, as they then brought their debut hour to the Edinburgh Fringe this year.

In stand-up terms, that's no time at all. Unfortunately, it does show: Navabi is not yet a completely free-flowing natural on stage.

That will come. But it does leave you wondering how much hype/critical acclaim could've been shone in the direction of this show had Navabi waited another couple of years before debuting Composition (not that every artist in the world should be prioritising the attention of critics and awards. What a boring world that would be). Still, there's enough clever moments in this show to make it recommendable regardless (look out for jokes about Zayn Malik, nepo babies and Sajid Javid), and Navabi will deservedly start building up a fanbase from it.

Paddy Young

Also a 2023 newcomer is Paddy Young. He paints himself as a Northerner now navigating London life, and in particular, flatshares. He's not come down here to lambast the capital though: if anything, he's finding ways to cleverly flatter his Soho audience.

It's difficult not to think of Young as a stand-out new talent: everything here suggests a pretty unique, slightly unusual comic mind, yet one that would go down very well on Live At The Apollo. When his highly-skilled crowd interactions arrive, then, they end up turning a lovely gig into something more in the vicinity of comedy gold dust. He's touring this fantastic hour in the new year.

Read previous editions of this column (including John Robins, Rosie Jones, Tom Allen, Munya Chawawa and Kate Berlant).

Mark Muldoon is also available on Instagram and Twitter. He also tries to paint himself as a Northerner now navigating London life, which tends to offend actual Northerners.

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