“Eye Say, Eye Say, Eye Say” brought together thirteen visually impaired comedians all to perform live on Saturday evening, which they did either in person at Goodenough College in London or via Zoom. The audience was also a similar mixture too, with some comedians present in the room to provide laughter, but the rest of us were silently watching thanks to Zoom.
After a quick but fun opening five minutes from hosts Georgie Morrell and Ashrafia Choudhury, who had some strong material about Rishi Sunak and the difficulties of shopping when you’re visually impaired, Terry James took to the stage. It’s a slightly mixed bag but she has some great gags about why she’s a foxy lady and the nature of her relationship with her husband, though less strong are some jokes about pronunciation of words and being a Trump supporter (as she doesn’t like trapped wind), but she shows promise overall.
Steven Reed is rather dodgy though, with material about personal hygiene and the difficulties of using taps not really having any pay offs, and not one moment makes me laugh unfortunately. Naqi Rizvi follows and thankfully is a lot better as he jokes about people’s confusion over his name, his ancestry, and what appears peculiar to him about the UK, though his material about the Coronavirus is a lot patchier, and he ends on a weak note sadly.
Michael Henriques is the first comic to perform via zoom, with a routine about what happens when people try to be helpful, there’s a couple of funny moments but it falls in to the “Interesting but not hilarious” category. Amy Bethan Evans is then next up, with a set about the difficulties of getting PIP payments, the replacement for disability allowance. She’s superb, the first consistently funny comedian of the night as she mocks the government’s all round shittiness when it comes to applying for help and what you have to get through to get money, along with a description of her day at work, with the satire being about as sharp as you can get, and I’d love to see more of her.
Pingwing is performing on Zoom from Hackney and he acts out a few sketches, taking on a number of different characters, but it’s only the kind of thing which will make you smile rather than laugh. And Chris Campion is in some ways quite similar, in that his performance is strong but the material doesn’t match it, and only a slight variation on Chumbawamba’s Tubthumping elicits a laugh. A comedian named Maverick then takes to the stage and a lot of his material starts off strongly, from reality tv not being real, his goddaughter being a snitch, and how he’s not going to be a suicide bomber or a serial killer, but only the latter actually has a strong punchline.
Samuel Brewer’s got a viciously honest sense of humour and after Amy Bethan Evans he’s the second really great act of the night as his self-deprecation and tales of how he wanted to be cool are nearly all very, very funny. But alas the uneven nature of the night continues as Michelle Felix tells a long story about disabled holidays and how her friend asked her to look after her dog, she’s got great stage presence but unfortunately none of her tales are amusing. Mark Norman sees the night improve once again thankfully, he’s got a great wry take on the world, commenting about how 2020 is making the book of revelations look like a garden fete, “and haven’t we been spoilt for celebrity obituaries”. He also has some funny Trump material, something many a comedian has shown to be very difficult, and he’s the third act of the evening that I’d definitely like to see again.
Kirin Saeed is the final comic to perform via zoom, discussing the current lockdown which comes with an audio description gently mocking her, she also has jokes about facebook and being nosy about people’s life stories, along with people not wanting to meet up with her in the virtual world, but while she’s a confident performer the material’s only very, very average. The same goes for headliner Stephen Portlock, he has a fun opening gag about his Great Dane Hamlet, and a story about how a woman told him he has beautiful eyes made me chuckle, but after that it disappoints alas.
A gig with so many comedians doing very short sets was always going to be a varied occasion, and for only a fiver you can’t really complain, but most of the time it was like being at a decent open mic gig rather than seeing a professional selection of comedians. Conceptually it’s a great idea, and I did discover a lot about what it’s like to be visually impaired, but if they do another gig like this it’d probably be better if they had fewer acts and gave the best of them longer to perform.