I knew nothing about Archie Henderson before I saw him tonight and I have to confess that when I entered the room my heart sank at the sight of a keyboard next to the microphone. Not that I don’t love musical comedy, indeed the opposite applies as I’m a huge fan of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Rachel Parris’s show on NextUp and a ridiculous amount of musicals from the stage and screen, but musical comedy done badly can be one of the most excruciating things you can ever sit through.
Thankfully that definitely doesn’t apply to Archie Henderson’s take on combining music and humour, indeed it’s a pretty stunning show that I enjoyed from the very beginning and right through to the very end. This year I’ve seen over twenty Edinburgh previews and this is right up there with the very best of them, and I only slightly preferred Michael Brunstrom’s superlative World Of Sports which is one of the best shows I’ve witnessed in years, so that it comes close to it is quite the compliment.
What makes Archie’s comedy so good is the fact that he combines so many different styles and types of comedy in the hour. So we get full length songs about various subjects, like Dangerous Archie, a Bond spoof which is combined with a superb video playing in the background, to the show’s opener about how he’s only adequate, a jack of all trades and a master of none, to a superb number where he wonders how he should pass on a message to a friend of a friend he’s only met the once, but we’re also treated to some beautifully funny very short bursts of songs as well.
That means we get to hear what it would have been like if Arnold Schwarzenegger had sung Bohemian Rhapsody, and a version of Simon and Garfunkel’s The Sound Of Silence which comes complete with a hype man, but there’s also a snippet of a song he released on to youtube back when he was a teacher, and then a brief number which is made up of his student’s reactions when they found it online. Throughout the evening we also get “Musings – An Intellectual Odyssey” which sees Archie throw out a few highly funny random thoughts, reworded versions of songs by TLC, James Blunt and the Arctic Monkeys, and an insight in to how many famous hits contain bird songs in the most unexpected of places.
This was a show which delighted throughout, and made myself and the audience laugh constantly, and laugh hard at that. Many a time he won an extremely deserved round of applause from the crowd, and I haven’t heard an audience cheer and clap as enthusiastically as they did at the end in a long time, as it was a show everyone clearly loved a lot. Henderson has a real talent for creating shockingly funny songs in an impressive number of different genres with the kind of lyrics that had everyone almost in hysterics, and this is definitely a show you want to see if you’re attending the Edinburgh festival, and if you’re not you should do whatever you can to catch it afterwards.