This year's been pretty good, though, so I'll try to ladle out some hot steaming reviews onto your waiting plates while I still can.
THE SMARTYPANTS SHOWS
A few comedians this year have been really clever and astute-like so I'll start with them.
NINA CONTI - Complete and Utter Conti
I'm not a fan of ventriloquists (who is?) but sassy UK comic Conti has used the form to craft a complex narrative which does very strange and sometimes sad things. It seems very loose and unstructured and old-fashioned for quite a while, but you gradually become aware that everything happening is very precisely measured to accomplish a particular effect which is, eventually, one of deconstruction. Barry contender. Very highly recommended. I'd go see this show again (HIGH PRAISE INDEED).
JUSTIN HAMILTON - The Killing Joke
Hammo won Director's Choice last year. I missed his trilogy then. Caught his new one. It's a bit like:
Hamilton plays Jason Harrington and Justin Hamilton in a dialogue between two comedians - one of whom is urging the other to kill himself for some reason. It's a series of musings by a comedian asking himself what he's all about - smart meta-comedy that isn't really laugh-out-loud but raises lots of interesting questions. Hamilton is clearly influenced by the self-referential comics of Alan Moore and Grant Morrison (he namechecks them in the program) as well as some nice cinema of the past couple of decades. Like I say, it's not a gutbuster but it's worth the Barry he's been nominated for.
SAM SIMMONS - Where Can I Win a Bear Around Here?
I have not a lot of ideas why I enjoy Sam Simmons' comedy but I rather do and hope you do too. WHOEVER "YOU" ARE?