Review: Craig Campbell Live – Middlesbrough Town Hall Crypt
Ten Feet Tall is renowned for bringing TV names like Michael McIntyre, Jimmy Carr and Frankie Boyle to Middlesbrough Town Hall, as well as running popular club nights in the Town Hall’s Crypt. They also support the new breed of breakthrough solo acts, and Thursday night saw them play host to one of the best storytellers in comedy today, Craig Campbell.
Campbell is among the current crop of comedians to break out and perform their first solo tours thanks to recent TV exposure on the likes of Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow and Russell Howard’s Good News, and more mainstream audiences are certainly benefiting from it. A master of turning his life stories and anecdotal tales into routines close to poetry, Campbell is given full reign here on his own tour, allowed to explore and spin yarns in far more depth as a result of his recent successes.
Yet a night of just Craig Campbell never feels tiresome or padded out, even in his longer routines, as the natural charm and storytelling ability of the man shines through every second he is on stage. The Canadian never falters, as he brings up another anecdote from his remarkable past in an apparently loosely weaved stream of consciousness, performed with genuine enthusiasm – Campbell addresses himself after a couple of bizarre tales exclaiming he’s got no idea why he’s told the audience that routine or he hasn’t mentioned another on stage for years, but it works.
His ability to make the gig relatable to the audience and individual to every other night on the tour is also somewhat remarkable; routines on Teesside, Hartlepool, nearby Newcastle and even John Darwin – though not particularly novel in subject matter – are all nice touches and exemplify Campbell’s ability to convert anything that flares his interest into pure comedy.
Campbell drew an impressive crowd, too, rivalling the pull of big names who’ve recently appeared at the venue – in part due to his recent TV appearances but also as a result of his impressive performance supporting Frankie Boyle in the main hall upstairs last year. Craig Campbell’s certainly one of the more experienced acts working the circuit and it really shows on this performance; but he’s also came such a long way in the past year, and you can see why.