Live at Brighton Dome - the city's best comedy night

Big isn’t always beautiful, but in the case of The Dome’s semi-regular Saturday night comedy event, size, and accompanying many bums on seat, appear to be going some way to attracting the UK’s best comics
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With the exception of a small number of stadium-filling turns, the venue has long hosted the best acts who have thrived and or prospered beyond the comedy circuit, and whoever came up with the idea of Live at the Dome deserves mucho kudos.

It uses the long established set up of an MC and a line up of comics (usually three but four this time around) delivering smallish, punchy sets to a, more often than not, easily pleased crowd.

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Live at Brighton Dome is a little less boozy than its city forebears, and obviously less intimate but benefits from a higher calibre of comic and more consistent roster.

Live at Brighton DomeLive at Brighton Dome
Live at Brighton Dome

This month’s show (October 21) drew in a familiarly hefty Saturday night crowd, many glad to be away from the rowdy Rugger fans who were filling the town’s boozers ahead of an evening of egg-chasing disappointment.

MC Catherine Bohart promised a night of gorgeous comedy and put her back into some serious crowd work – not an easy job in a venue of that size.

After a few tepid exchanges she was rewarded with the discovery of a funeral directing couple, and picked that thread well enough throughout the evening, although a little more material would have been nice.

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The line-up was due to feature Josh Pugh, he of the many many superb little one-man social media skits, but sadly he wasn’t able to take part in the show, and his place was filled by other acts.

San Fransican Katie Green, was a huge, sassy presence with a set which span out from being the self-confessed ‘toxic one in the relationship’ and a being a Latina girl dealing with dating in the UK.

In addition to nailing a dippy London accent she also had a few excellent lines, some of which you won’t find yourself repeating to an elderly aunt.

The second replacement act was a little more familiar being that he’s currently appearing in the comedy TV juggernaut Taskmaster.

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Aussie stand-up Sam Campbell is obviously making headway in Blighty after winning the main prize at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival in 2022.

The likeable, slightly geeky vibes he’s giving off in Taskmaster did little to prepare the audience for a fast and energetic barrage of snappy, absurdist material.

His style isn’t a billion miles away from the surrealism of Paul Foot, which is high enough praise for any comedian.

The two big dogs of the night were Tim Key and Simon Amstell, both delivering superb sets in wildly different ways.

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Key won his Edinburgh award in 2009 and is now referring to it in terms of tragic career trajectory.

It’s a nonsense of course, not just because of Key’s recent TV roles as Sidekick Simon with Alan Partridge and as the eponymous Witchfinder with Daisy May Cooper, but because he is now such a utterly brilliant performer.

His gag-heavy set, began with a burst of strong lager into the front row, and the first of many silly but immensely funny short poems, complete with a barked asides off mic.

Key’s use of language is dizzying, as is the way he drills down into his dopey stories, including a memorable almost frenzied paen to Cheddar.

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Conversely, Amstell spent most of his time on a stool reading from prompts of potential new material on sheets of A4 paper “I’m just trying out some jokes in front of 1200 people, that’s ok isn’t it?”

He’s still as adorable, charming and cheeky as he was at the turn-of-the-century on Popworld, but is having a joyous middle-age after slaying much of his neurosis and hang-ups with a combination of sex, love and life-changing natural drug experiences.

If that sounds smug or pompous, don’t worry he certainly isn’t, he’s still worried about getting old and dying, and although he says he’s ‘transcended self and ego’, he still refers to himself as a star far more often than people ascribed it to Judy Garland.

A meandering but excellent end to an impressive night of comedy.

LIve at Brighton Dome returns on December 14 for a Christmas special with Maisie Adam, Nina Conti, Dylan Moran and more to be announced