With not exactly the kind of name you’d associate with comedy, Slaughterhouse Live are a Manchester based, four-man comedy cabaret team made up of Steve Royle (of Phoenix Nights and Max & Paddy’s Road to Nowhere to name a few), Gary Morris, Martin Pemberton and Andrew Willson.
The show is made up of eight sketches in each half, plus some short films. Some of it is a bit like being pinned up against a wall and having comedy shouted at you: a little unnerving and not very comfortable.
The parts that were funny really did make me laugh but unfortunately, these were far outweighed by the parts that didn’t. I cringed at times and just wished it was over.
All the team are excellent performers, but the writing is lacking in some areas. Some sketches made me think that they’d run out of material and weren’t sure how to end so they just kept going.
A lot of the audience were clearly existing fans and it probably helps if you know some of the comedy characters already. Dave Media, for example, seemed to get a good response but it didn’t really make me laugh at all, although I did think that the characterisation was very good.
I did enjoy the recurring sketches involving Graham Mind – the psychic medium who was as psychic as a brick. They were short and simple but really got the laughs.
The Pearly Players (two cockney pearly kings singing East End style songs about Brexit) went on for far too long and although the characterisation was again very good, the material wasn’t funny enough – the songs were more like political soapboxes in music form but with very little humour. I’m afraid I found it rather boring after a while. The bit I did like was “Doing The Conference Walk” which was a dig at Theresa May’s recent horrific attempts at dancing.
‘Knockers and Cocks’ (spoof 1970s comedy duo very similar to Cannon & Ball!) really did make me laugh and there were some ad libs put in which were funny. Again, though, the sketch was overlong, and the pudding was well and truly over-egged.
(Steve Royle is an amazing juggler – as part of the Alan Sonar sketch (blind juggler...!), he successfully balanced guitars on his chin and then juggled them. Very impressive).
The second half began with children’s storyteller, ‘Beryl Haines’ telling ‘Tales from Potty Crayon’ which was quite entertaining for a few minutes, but it just went on and on and was becoming rather silly. It was a good idea which would have worked much better if the length of the sketch was reduced.
I did cringe quite a lot at “Bob Hopeless” I’m afraid. This was a cross between Bob Hope and George Burns and although some of the jokes were amusing, it was too drawn out and just a bit wrong.
The “Impossible Improv” sketch which was an American improvisation duo, (pronouncing Salford as “Sale-ford” and The Lowry as “The Low Rye”) made me laugh out loud at the beginning. This was very good characterisation but as the sketch went on, the material was a little lacking.
I didn’t care for the ‘Walter Melons’ sketch which I felt was rather bad taste. ‘Walter Melons’ is a WW1 poet. This was a very long sketch, the humour seeming to revolve around him clearing his throat and stuttering over his words and to me, it just wasn’t funny. Maybe I was in the minority as a lot of the audience were laughing constantly which made the sketch last longer as he just kept clearing his throat more and more.
There are elements of different comedy styles in Slaughterhouse Live: some of it put me in mind of The League of Gentlemen and my theatre companion said they were very like Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer. It was also a little Python-esque at times.
The cast are very talented, and their talents should be pointed in a better direction than they currently are. A lot of the writing didn’t do them justice and it was rather cheap. They deserve something better. Don’t get me wrong: I did laugh very loudly at some points but just not very often.
The parts that worked, worked well but there were a lot of long stretches when I wasn’t laughing at all and it was becoming tedious. Much of the comedy missed the mark for me. Some of the sketches went on far too long and simply weren’t funny. Less is more.
Reviewer: Nicky Lambert
Reviewed: 9th November 2018
North West End Rating: ★★★