Returning from an award-winning run at the Edinburgh Fringe, the Leeds Tealights were back again on home soil. Expectations were high for the comedy sketch group which has seen the returning Stephen Rainbird teaming up with a fresh new cast: Nancy Salt, Will Sidi, Emre Kose, and Madeleine Gray. Hidden away in the upstairs room of the Library Pub, the setting was appropriately cosy for a rapport to be generated between comedian and audience. Not only was the location suitable for the acts to follow but also allowed people to ease the wait with a refreshing beverage from the bar.
Arriving 40 minutes before the show started, we felt suitably keen, walking into the empty room and being told to go and wait with a drink downstairs. Ahir Shah opened the show with an hour of genuinely hilarious stand up comedy; racing through topics such as smoking, vegetarianism, religion, capitalism and love. Shah managed to keep the audience captivated throughout his whole performance by combining impressive streams of memorized anecdotes with spontaneous comments made at audience members’ expense. Keeping everyone in fits of laughter at the outrageous jokes, Shah ended his set on a different note, – a declaration of love for his girlfriend. Instead of making it a schmaltzy speech, he infused it with humour using intellect and a cleverly placed Proclaimers reference. The audience left having all had their heartstrings tugged, and put in good stead for the Tealights to follow.
The group opened with a choreographed sequence of dance moves alluding to cultural appropriation and the boundaries of comedy. The sketches that followed were easily accessible to a student audience, covering fresher initiations and stereotypical gap yearers. The former sketch provided a very funny interpretation of what happens during university socials, with ‘Garden Soc’ taking inspiration from the Rugby club. Other sketches involved an angry driving instructor, a zombie apocalypse and a man who thinks he is a dog. There were moments where the dialogue could have been swifter to make the comic timing more precise, and the punch lines were relatively obvious at times. The majority of the content, however, was original and created a room full of laughter. The show closed on an innovative sketch of the first date between a couple which suddenly plummets downhill after both revealed their favourite pastimes with humiliating results. Through an ‘Inbetweeners’-esque rendition of a love song, the situation was galvanized, and the scene ended with the couple realizing their unconventional similarities. The whole evening was an endless stream of creative genius infused with unique comedy. Make sure to go out of your way to watch one of Shah’s shows and catch the Tealights at their next performance. They will surely not disappoint.