Comedy: Review: Mitch Benn, Hen and Chicken

Nicola Yeeles, October 24, 2014

If you’re obsessed with the Beatles, you’ve got something in common with comedian Mitch Benn.

“I wasn’t given a choice of eras to grow up in,” he told the Hen and Chicken crowd, and it’s clear the Liverpool comic would’ve loved to be a child of the sixties.  

Mitch’s touring show is a homage to the Fab Four, which he structures by creating a list of people credited with being the ‘fifth Beatle’, from the group’s early drummers through to later tribute acts.  There’s enough trivia here to satisfy even the most die-hard of fans, as we take a chronological tour of Beatlesmania from their school days right up to now.

Even for non-Beatles fans, it’s easy to get caught up in the hero worship, especially as Mitch’s life has been peppered with intriguing connections to the band – he went to the same primary school as John Lennon and George Harrison.  You can just imagine him as one of those early fans, screaming at the barriers, despite being born three weeks into the seventies. 

Quick-tongued Mitch loves a rant: everything from Oasis to ageism comes in for attention, but largely this is an instructive, fast-paced and entertaining lecture about his idols, with frequent breaks for Beatles-style songs.  The songs make up for some feeble lyrics with their perfect parody of rock-and-roll melodies and he ends the first half with a clever version of Tomorrow Never Knows using vocal loops.

It’s now a while since 1995 when the musical satirist was voted ‘best new comic’ at Glastonbury, and his material felt over-rehearsed in places. There were moments of fun, though, when he seemed to genuinely enjoy himself and the audience responded to the spontaneity, as he showed off his Scouse accents or told us about his wife’s snake escaping.

Board pen in hand, Mitch reminds me of one of those school teachers that you loved to hate: so entrenched in their own subject that they barely seem to see the class, but at the same time, impossible to ignore and who, secretly, you really want on your quiz team.

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