Guz Khan, Max & Ivan, Louise Young, Lindsey Santoro - Mark Muldoon's Comedy Diary

Image shows left to right: Max Olesker, Ivan Gonzalez, Max & Ivan

Max & Ivan have been making their narrative-based double act shows since 2008. Is it possible, though, that this - the final night of their Soho Theatre run - might just be the last time they perform one of them together?

That's what they seem to have been suggesting about this show, Life, Choices. And as there's no more performances of it scheduled, does this make this performance their... last ever?

If that is indeed what this particular performance is, it certainly doesn't get acknowledged during the show, but still, you don't have to think too long and hard to sense why they might be considering throwing this particular towel in. As does get mentioned in the show, they've been cursed by "the almost plausibility of their careers". And you'd have to say fair enough: comedy fans will struggle to think of acts that have had a stronger run of wildly critically acclaimed shows, yet not really succeeded in breaking through into the mainstream as a result. There's a strong sense that they've thrown everything they can at this double act lark, and it's not really paid off for them.

If this, then, is a goodbye show, it's another fine example of what they've always done. It considers their father's stories (12 months in a Romanian prison, anyone?), their influence on the duo, and if that impacts on their viability as a double act. It's a slick, very well-drilled, likeable show with heart and considerable charm.

They've made it clear they'll continue working together in some capacity, first and foremost on a West End farce that's reportedly about two weddings booked on the same day in the same venue. You can also watch their preceding show on YouTube, as well as four previous live shows on ITVX, and I can offer you no stronger recommendation than to state that it's even worth braving that streaming service in order to watch them.

Guz Khan. Credit: Mikey Flexx, Haris Ahmed

A triumphant moment for Guz Khan, now, as his tour lands at the iconic Hammersmith Apollo, with a generous support bill of Jamali Maddix and Mark Silcox to mark the occasion. The cheers that echo around the room at various points during Khan's set paint an illustrative picture of politics in 2024: the audience is fiercely pro-Palestine, but is also only too happy to confirm they're anti-ULEZ.

You'll no doubt be familiar with parents who speak openly about their jealousy of childfree people. As a parent of four, Khan instead takes aim at parents who only have to deal with one child. They don't know how good they've got it. He's pleasingly comfortable naming favourites amongst the kids too. This lack of respect for the sanctity of parenting means childfree audience members won't be put off, like they often can be when parenting dominates a comedian's material. It's to the show's credit.

Louise Young

Louise Young's stories, by comparison, do tend to be a little wilder. Occasionally with newcomer comedians you worry that they may have used up all their best tales in their debut hour and whether there will be any quality material left for subsequent shows. It's inarguably reassuring, then, when Young ends her set by cheerfully stating "I haven't even told you about the time I was chased by a helicopter!".

What you do get, though, is tales from the sharp end of mental health problems, reflections on growing up working class in Newcastle - being half-Turkish but culturally much more aligned with Geordie culture. There's also thoughts on the joys of the Megabus and the Booze Britain documentary. It's worth keeping track of Young, and not just to hear how that helicopter story pans out.

Lindsey Santoro

Finally: thoughts and prayers for Lindsey Santoro, who acknowledged that she was dealt live comedy's worst hand last week: her show was on at the exact same time as The Traitors final.

Her introductions are encouraging, though. "Sometimes you'll go and see shows that all come together in some beautiful sentimental payoff. I just shout about my bum hole for about five minutes." Much of this debut performance does, indeed, operate in the vicinity of bodily full-disclosure. Or, say, hen parties. At least, that's when she's not on one of her frequent unplanned diversions into alternative topics. It's an excellent mix though: Santoro is fantastic company throughout the hour - fun, freewheeling and enjoyably creative when conjuring up imagery with her words. A wonderful comedy newcomer.

Read previous editions of this column (featuring John Robins, Rosie Jones, Trevor Noah, The Unfriend (starring Lee Mack) and the top 50 comedy shows of 2023).

Mark Muldoon is also available on Instagram and Twitter. He watched The Traitors final on the District line home, so we don't need to worry about that.

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