Rapid-fire laughs with Baddiel, Key and Herring at O2 Laughter Lounge night

Comedy nights at O2 will be a roaring success - as long as the comics get more than 10 minutes

Comedy at the O2 arena is certainly bite-size. The new Laughter Lounge night kicked off in the cosier indigo2, within the North Greenwich venue, on October 15 and though it could be deemed a success, a few tweaks are in order if it is to become a regular fixture.

It seems like nit-picking to complain about a bill with eight top comics on it, including David Baddiel returning to stand-up for the first time since 2003 and 2009 Edinburgh Comedy Award winner Tim Key. But the end result is a feeling that the talents on display were spread thinly, which wasn’t helped by a late start which meant the comedians were all too often racing through their 10-minute sets and regularly pausing to check their watches.

Ably guiding a lukewarm crowd through the manic arrangements was compere Russell Kane, who riffed off the well-stated apathy of London crowds and bounded around the stage powered by his own enthusiasm. Kevin Eldon, a veteran of Chris Morris’ TV output from Brass Eye to the almost unwatchably dark Jam, was also a surprisingly warm performer, far removed from his ghoulish TV appearances, though he did still have time for a sinisterly amusing song about workplace bullying.

Richard Herring, ex-comedy partner of Stewart Lee, mined a more laddish vein of comedy based around his multiple failings with the opposite sex while Andrew Maxwell enjoyed baiting the crowd during his brief appearance and drew laughs on the reasons why women in Lebanon are more attractive than those in the Shetland Isles.

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Only headliner Baddiel could deviate from the ten-minute protocol, but if anything his set could have benefited from a degree of editing. With his stand-up muscles not flexed in a while, it was a slightly nervous and at times patchwork performance, though he did manage to skate the dodgy ground of the celebrity anecdote without alienating the audience. He suggested he might do it again at the end of his set and he will surely grow sharper with future outings.

As for comedy at this venue, anything to lessen the conveyor belt atmosphere of the occasion would be welcome.

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