Last year, The Harry and Chris Show was advertised in the Spoken Word section of the programme. They were told they were ‘surprisingly funny’, so this year the inventively-named Harry and Chris Show 2 is listed as comedy. It’s definitely in the right place, as the show is belly-achingly funny – but it must be said that this spoken-word / poetry / music / comedy duo are too unique to be boxed into a single genre.
Harry Baker and Chris Read are blisteringly talented. The show is a performance of seven original songs, interspersed with introductions, jokes and stories. The two men work incredibly well together, and seem to be genuine friends; Read, with his background as a jazz musician, provides music and singing while Baker, a professional poet, fills in the majority of the spoken lyrics.
The lyrics are ingenious, and there are so many layers of wordplay that in some songs I registered a new pun every time the chorus was repeated. Most of the numbers are upbeat and feel-good, and all of them are about surprising and inventive subjects or points of view. There are also a few consciously awful puns thrown in that Baker especially seems to get great enjoyment out of.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone hold an audience in their hand in quite the same way as Harry Baker did during certain lines. There was an awe-struck energy in the room before and after every song, and there were several points at which Baker had to pause because the audience was laughing so much that he couldn’t be heard.
Both performers have a relaxed, easy stage presence and come across as genuinely nice people who just happen to be extremely talented. The show is hilarious and extraordinarily clever, and the pair have an infectious sense of fun. They end on a really rather wonderful and encouraging song, sending the audience out into the day a little bit happier… and still humming songs from the show.