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First, a couple of points to be aware of regarding this book: (1) You do not need to be a fan of Jimmy Carr to appreciate and enjoy it. That said, I am a Jimmy Carr fan – in fact he is probably my favourite comedian – but even if I had never heard of him, I would have really liked this. (2) This is not a joke book. It’s a book *about* jokes. There is a joke (typically a snappy one-liner) at the foot of every page, and at the end of each chapter there are about four pages of jokes related to the subject of that chapter, but essentially this is a book about the history of jokes, the purpose they serve, the way they evolve, and the value of jokes in various cultures and across generations.

It’s a fascinating read, told in an engaging style by Carr and Greeves, and each chapter held my interest. They manage to keep the tone light but also really informative, and cover such subjects as why clowns are scary, and how different cultures have mythical japesters, some of whom are not only funny but also fairly sinister. The politics of joking is covered, and also a chapter on where (and if) humour should draw a line. Are there for example, some subjects which it is never safe to joke about?

I found this thoroughly absorbing and very well written. Hats off to both authors for a terrific read.

 

 

 

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As the title of the act might suggest, Three Phantoms consists of three men who have all played the West End as the lead role in Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s musical, Phantom of the Opera.  With backing singers, including Rebecca Caine, who has not only played Christine Daae in Phantom, but who also played the original Cosette in Les Miserables, they perform a series of songs from many different musicals.  In between numbers, they share jokes with the audience, and anecdotes about their time playing the Phantom.

The Phantoms who were performing when I saw the show were Matthew Cammelle, Stephen John Davis and Glyn Kerslake (it’s not always the same three Phantoms for every tour), and the whole thing was staged by Earl Carpenter, who I was lucky enough to see playing the Phantom himself, earlier this year.

Starting with Invocation and Instructions to the Audience from The Frogs, was a nice touch because it really helped get the audience relaxed and ready not only for some beautiful singing, but also for a lot of fun.  Other songs included Dont’ Stop Believin’, by Journey; Unchained Melody, from Ghost; I Could Have Danced All Night, from My Fair Lady; Big Girls Don’t Cry, from Jersey Boys; a selection of songs from Les Miserables – including a stunning acapella version of I Dreamed A Dream, which brought tears to my eyes – and a selection of songs from other musical adaptations of Phantom, as well as a wonderful rendition of Music of the Night.

Annette Yeo, Mandy Watsham Dunstall and Alistair Barron sang beautifully with the Phantoms, and each had their own moment in the spotlight, with Alistair coming in for some merciless teasing from them!  Musical accompaniment was provided by a single pianist and a single cellist, who were on stage throughout, and the staging itself was beautifully done.

Overall, for fans of musical theatre, this show is a must – a hugely enjoyable afternoon or evening out.  I will definitely be booking to see the Three Phantoms again in the future.

(The Three Phantoms website can be found here.)

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