If that's a slow-burner, Laura Solon's Talking and Not Talking is rapid-fire and harder-edged and shows that BBC comedy is still alive and kicking. I liked Dargon the alien invader falling foul of health and safety legislation, and the posh MP - "When I was Minister for Rural Affairs I had to visit over two farms." And I loved the former East European tyrant over here looking for work: "People used to call me 'Olga the aaaaagh!'" She'd have had Evan Davis for breakfast.Chris Maume, The Independent, 24th April 2011
Last week Radio 4 only went and put on the latest series of Laura Solon - Talking and Not Talking on Wednesday (6.30pm). Contrast and compare? OK, then. Where Jo Caulfield and her writers - ten of them, including the star herself - do that horrible thing of telegraphing a joke so far ahead than any mirth is drained from the punch line by the time it arrives, Solon and her posse (six writers, again including the star) kept things fresh. If a situation didn't deserve a full sketch, it got a one-liner ("My mother's a cat person - she sits in front of the fire looking grumpy and washing her bum"). Favourite characters from previous series returned, such as the desperate woman who got divorced what must be ages ago now and is still "really, really fine about it", and spends her sad days thinking up pathetic ways to make money (jewellery made from human skin, for instance). And there are some new ones sure to become favourites: the 19th-century spinsters time-travelling in search of someone to marry; the deposed Eastern European tyrant who moves into English suburbia with her pet crocodiles; the wonderfully snotty French radio presenter.
Yes, of course they work in different areas of comedy. Caulfield talks about herself, Solon anything but. And it's also true that any sketch show - any comedy show, with the exception of the ever-brilliant Bleak Expectations, in fact - would struggle to compete against Solon. But separating them by a mere 24 hours, now, that's cruel. And all Caulfield has to cheer herself up with is the knowledge that her show's theme tune - the Cure's Boys Don't Cry - knocks spots off Solon's piece of synthesiser whimsy that achieves the trick of being both really annoying and difficult to dislodge from the mental jukebox.Chris Campling, The Times, 27th November 2009
There are programmes that ring their own leper-bells, so you know you can avoid them. An all too typical example is Laura Solon: Talking and Not Talking. The description given on the BBC's iPlayer includes the words 'packed with bittersweet character monologues and cuttingly modern sketches', which is another way, as even the most cursorily experienced listener will recognise, of saying 'not very funny'.Nicholas Lezard, The Independent, 1st June 2008
Laura Solon's second series of Talking and Not Talking puts bizarre pictures in your mind. In half an hour, she packed in many beautifully worded sketches. Some were one-liners ('I guess the first tattoo I had was really just to annoy my father. But then it did say,
ROD OFF DAD YOU BIG GAYER right across my forehead'), some could have been entire films (I loved the story about going on a round-the-world yacht where every other crew member was a fortysomething divorced woman).
Solon's editing is excellent; very few sketches milked the joke too long. As a Perrier winner, she understands the rules of stand-up: if you're doing badly - get off. And if you're doing well? Get off.Miranda Sawyer, The Observer, 1st June 2008
Laura Solon: Talking and Not Talking returned for a second series yesterday, and her writing and performance really does suit the medium. On radio, Solon necessarily concentrates most on voice and gently ticklish scenarios, told by characters who are often silly, but at least faintly recognisable too.
I liked the short sketches best, with their glimpses into peculiar corners of lives and minds. A mother explained that she and her partner were bringing their children up bilingually to give them a head start in life.
Unfortunately, she added,
neither of these languages are English, so we have no idea what they're saying. A hairdresser trilled on predictably about her job, and how she is like a counsellor to her customers. Then she said, quietly, oddly:
And you have the added bonus of being able to keep your client's hair.