The most recent time I stretched the scope of this blog to discuss comedy it was to talk about last year’s Laughs in the Park. Amongst the various acts was Adam Riches, someone I had never heard of but who turned out to be the highlight of the day. I swore back then in July 2011 that “if Adam Riches does a gig near me, I’m there.” Adam Riches has since won the Edinburgh Comedy Award at last year’s fringe festival and currently has a month-long stay at the Soho Theatre. Naturally I went along to see if he was as good as I remembered.
Adam Riches is a unique act; he never introduces himself or appears on-stage out of character, instead introducing himself as a series of characters, each more eccentric than the last. To go into too much detail about the characters and sketches would be to ruin the show, and frankly the sketches spiral so far out of control that I’d struggle to fully describe them and you might think I was making bits up. I will say that at one point the entire audience was in danger of getting a tennis ball in the face.
What Adam Riches has become known for is instilling fear in his small, vulnerable audience of just 150 comedy fans. The fear comes from Riches reliance on audience participation, for each of his sketches to work Riches must pluck at least one audience member from the crowd and gradually push them further out of their comfort zone. It was amazing to watch as not one of the selected few managed to resist their call to the stage, perhaps it was because Riches never asks, but simply demands, to be joined on-stage or maybe because we all knew deep down that to say no would ruin the show for everyone else. Whether they were riding lizards on skateboard or giving Riches a drink “as starlings do”, the
unlucky chosen audiences members threw themselves into their roles.
Despite the perpetual sense of fear instilled in me by the possibility of having to go on-stage, Adam Riches was overwhelmingly funny. I laughed so hard I made noises I had never heard before and at one point tried to catch my breath mid-laugh, inhaled far too hard and almost killed myself in the process by inhaling my entire face. Adam Riches was so funny it was bad for my health.
I can’t recommend Bring Me the Head of Adam Riches enough, though for safety would suggest you sit near the back and in the middle of a row. What you get for your money is an hour filled with bizarre, insane comedy which can only truly be enjoyed when experienced live in a small theatre.
Bring Me the Head of Adam Riches is at the Soho Theatre until 17th March.