REVIEW: Outside the Box Comedy

By Emily Dalton

8th Oct 2023 | Opinion

Outside The Fighting Cocks. (Photo: Kate Davies)
Outside The Fighting Cocks. (Photo: Kate Davies)

How do you like to spend your evenings after work? I like to spend them in a dark and dingey room, garnished with sweat and heavy metal posters, mere millimetres away from a tiny box stage. 

Those who don't know where i'm talking about, congratulations! You have a taste for the finer things in life. For those who do, you know it's like a dirty little secret you can't get enough of.

The Fighting Cocks on Old London Road is a cracking establishment which makes you feel you need to have a personality transplant. As soon as someone step into the threshold, their voice gets deeper and the urge to punch something takes hold. It's complete with a pool table, slot machine, and vintage mock pornographic characters on one wall.

Andy Parons described it as: "Absolutely the finest comedy club sandwiched next to a tattoo parlour and a futon shop in the entire UK."

Perhaps not everyone's first choice for a drink- you'll see and interact with more characters in this local than Disneyland. A subverted version, of course. I don't think they've made a Disney princess with a beard and tattoos yet. 

Why am I here? It's an Outside the Box comedy gig and Bill Bailey (Never Mind the Buzz Cocks, Have I Got News for You, Black Books etc) is on the set list. The comedy club is favourited by performers for trying out their material on audiences before taking it on tour. 

My flatmate had saved me a seat right at the front (apologies for those with a delicate stomach) and, as a vegan Northerner who can't drive, he lined me up ready to be the butt of the jokes. 

Luckily, our host (Ross Smith) uncharacteristically went for the back and the middle rows for audience participation. Unfortunately for him, most of the crowd seemed to work in IT or in software development. As anyone knows, there's nothing funnier than an IT guy. 

Comedians encouraging audience participation and observation is another form of flirting with danger. Smith managed to curate a sense of community and in-jokes  which got you feeling like you knew the audience without ever needing or wanting to speak to them.

First up was Jack Skipper, a cockney rhyming slang of a man who excitedly told us he'd gone 'full time' as a comedian after being a carpenter. 

As is usually the case when trying out new material, Skipper led the stage with a phone and a notepad. A rather sweet comfort blanket for the now full-time comedian. 

His best jokes were when Skipper played to his cockney 'geezer' roots and the clashes between his traditional father and gentrication: comparing smashed avocado on sourdough to a picture of Sam Smith.

Jokes about his ex and a dog started off well but dwindled- comedy quickly lose momentum when you keep checking the audience gets the joke.

For the main event- a bright-eyed Bill Bailey got to the stage. There was a tangible feeling of excitement from the audience as the hero got in front of the mic. 

Bailey started unusually with the troubles of staying relevant as a comic by doing reality tv after winning Strictly Come Dancing. He then somewhat jarringly moved on to the bee apocalypse- made even funnier by the numerous flies buzzing on stage. 

Classic anti-Tory jokes abounded with the audience gradually adding more eloquent phrases to their lexicon. Bailey's HS2 sketch on the extremely vague planning process was hysterical because of its timeliness. 

Ending the set, Bailey indulged is in a subversive country song of "Satan take the wheel". As ever, he is a captivating storyteller as he leads you into absurdity. 

Last but not least was Radu. Rather unfairly, much of the audience had left after Bailey's set. Radu was a breath of fresh air. Immediately addressing the vocal elephant in the room, his heavy Romanian accent added to his character. Criticising the state of the UK, comparing his residence as an unhappy marriage. 

Fiercely anti-establishment, he tested the Royal Borough of Kingston's audience's view  on City workers, banks, and the return of coins.

Radu lost the audience, as many comedians do, when he started joking about nuclear war. Perhaps an ambitious subject to approach after 9pm when everyone has had a few. 

Clever word play and slips of the tongue- Radu was a welcome relief to the British comic playing the fool. Although his topics of anti-monarchy, imperialism and war were wrongly pitched- he pushed the boundaries of what the IT workers and desk jobs considered on their lunch breaks.

It's not often you can get a stellar line-up of comedians at your local for around £14 of less. That's probably the same cost as a bottle of wine you'd buy for a dinner party you don't want to go to- and I can guarantee you will have a lot more laughs. 

To find out more follow the link:


New kingston Jobs Section Launched!!
Vacancies updated hourly!!
Click here: kingston jobs


Related Articles

Christmas Market. (Photo: Emily Dalton)

Editor's note: Have a peaceful Christmas

An intimate comedy gig, but everyone is friends here. (Photo: Emily Dalton)

REVIEW: Jawbone Brewing pours community into its Comedy Night

Sign-Up for our FREE Newsletter

We want to provide Kingston with more and more clickbait-free local news.
To do that, we need a loyal newsletter following.
Help us survive and sign up to our FREE weekly newsletter.

Already subscribed? Thank you. Just press X or click here.
We won't pass your details on to anyone else.
By clicking the Subscribe button you agree to our Privacy Policy.