With credits on Have I Got News For You and Shooting Stars, it might be a surprise that someone of Mr Harris’s calibre has the graveyard shift in a tiny pub lounge. But it’s a gem of a find. As everyone settles down and Mr Harris entrusts one man with the responsibility of holding an electric fan, we brace ourselves for a journey into this fantastically bizarre world of beautifully odd turns of phrase, off-beat stand-up and clowning.
This is always going to be an act where, if you’re not on board from the start, it might be hard to get into. It’s silly, surreal and dark; it makes you wonder what Shooting Stars could have been like without the constraints of TV.
Throughout the show Mr Harris passes round a hat filled with ping pong balls, each marked with a prompt. As audience members read out the word on their chosen ball, such as “dialogue” and “seashells”, Harris delivers his prepared material on the subject at hand. If the mood suits he’ll go off on a tangent, relate to audience members in his peculiar fashion. It all comes out so effortlessly it’s hard to work out what bits are scripted and what is coming off the top of his head.
It’s clear after a while that the room is split in two, with one side really into it, the other not so much. A few people do eventually slip out, much to the relief of Mr Harris and those having a great time. It is just a matter of taste. The bit where he plugs his headphones into pieces of fruit to hear their internal monologues was reminiscent of the strange, alternative comedy popularised by Vic & Bob, and frankly it’s bordering on that fine line between genius and madness.
There are moments of laugh out loud hilarity, like the character poem “I can’t cry” (with superbly innovative use of Starburst wrappers), and the grotesque restaurant waiter who stalks the room taking orders from his patrons. Many of the laughs come from Mr Harris’s natural delivery. Even when talking morbidly about death, he manages to keep it light. Harris says he doesn’t mind about the planet’s demise because when it comes he’ll be “all lovely and dead”.
He brings everyone together towards the end with a communal prayer based on the biography section of a celebrity chef’s recipe book. It’s obscure, unique and stupidly funny. It’s smiles all round as everyone leaves the room at the end. Anyone who’s willing to go along with Mr Harris’s surreal version of comedy will have a brilliant time.