Rich Hall: Hell No I Ain't Happy

Rich Hall: Hell No I Ain't Happy


Reviewed by: Adam Micklethwaite

I really like Rich Hall but, truth be told, I’d have to admit that Hell No I ain’t Happy Happy gets off to a bit of a slow start. There is some promising banter with the front row of the audience but the stand-up routine, which features a heavy emphasis on America’s economic crisis, isn’t quite the explosive masterpiece of acerbic wit I was hoping for.

I can appreciate that his rant (featuring a continued reference to the unthinkable enormity of America’s 11 trillion dollar debt) is very clever and has moments of well-crafted, incisive humour, but there are relatively few laugh-out-loud lines. His wry observations on the respective cultural absurdities of Britain and America areon the money, but they don’t really hit the jackpot.

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At one point he jokes about having lost 67 per cent of his act with the demise of the Bush administration (“one of comedy’s greatest losses”), and there was a moment where I feared that there was more than a grain of truth in that gag. However, fans need not worry, as it isn't too long before Rich really gets his teeth into the material, with some excellent skits about the absurdities and generally objectionable qualities of celebrities such as Snoop Dog, Kanye West and Tom Cruise, revisiting his now-famous gag about the formula for a Tom Cruise film. As he’s proved so effectively with his anti-Bush tirades over the past few years, Hall's wit is put to best use when given a target to rail against, as opposed to passive observational humour.

The second half of the show is a brilliant set from Hall's Otis Lee Crenshaw alter-ego, which provides arguably the best moments of the DVD. Wonderfully assisted by the talented musicianship of his creatively-named backing band, the Honkeytonk A**holes, he performs renditions of songs such as the wonderful Do Anything You Want To The Girl (But Don’t Hurt Me), revelling in a comedic tale about a cowardly husband; the witty celebration of the humble kitchen appliance in George Foreman Grill; an unlikely sexual conquest in Bag Lady; and the anthemic genius of Fuck Disney (exactly what it says on the tin).

This fusion of music and comedy is by no means a unique attraction in the world of stand-up, but there’s something very special in the way that Hall plays with the Redneck stereotype, revelling in his banter with the audience and subverting Country music stereotypes to great effect. Given the quality of the music, you could be forgiven for forgetting that you’re actually supposed to be watching comedy – a device which renders Hall’s witty lyrics all the more effective. Perhaps the best example of this is the wonderful Piano Is Like AWoman, which takes the standard theme of a musician’s love for instruments and subverts it to comic effect, all the while showcasing some fantastic solo work by each member of his backing band.

A very good, if slightly flawed debut, here’s hoping there’ll be lots more to come from Rich Hall and Otis Lee Crenshaw.

Reviewed on: 06 Jan 2010
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Rich Hall: Hell No I Ain't Happy packshot
The stand-up comic on stage at the Hammersmith Apollo.
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Starring: Rich Hall

Year: 2009

Runtime: 100 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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