I was busy and couldn't go to the Hackney Empire New Act of the Year competition on Saturday night. I did want to as I was in the final myself last year (as some readers will remember) and it is pretty much known to be the best competition for newer acts in the industry. So I went online and read the review of the show at industry-standard review site Chortle. I can't comment on the reviews as such because I wasn't there but based on my knowledge of the acts some comments seem fair and others less so - but of course they may have been having a better or worse than usual night.
I will briefly mention Ro Campbell (pictured) who came second. He did a run-through of his set at my club the night before. He is correctly described as covering some fairly brave subject matters - abortion, rape, etc. And the comment reads "Very wrong, rather funny." which I think is unfair. Unlike a LOT of acts on the circuit Ro does not condone rape in his set, quite the opposite in fact. And his attitude to abortion is to condemn the hippocracy of those who oppose it so vehemently. My response when he was at my club was "Very right, very funny". Sadly he lives in Glasgow so it may be a while before you get the chance to see him again in London but whenever he is back we will be begging him to come and play Soho Comedy Club so let me know if you want to go on the mailing list!
But here's the thing about the review that really made me sit up. And it's an act I haven't seen so I can't comment on the act - only the review. "Craig Murray ... was happy to play along with Northern typecasting as vegetarian- and gay-averse." Can anyone tell me the difference between "homophobic" and "gay-averse"? I don't know whether the actual material is homophobic or whether he is in fact reflecting critically on character traits he sees in himself or those around him. I just have a rather visceral negative reaction to the use of the term "gay-averse", because it seems to be trivialising a very real cultural problem.