Hal Branson & Sammy Dobson – Thirty Minutes of One and Half an Hour of the Other

Thirty Minutes of One and Half an Hour of the Other (Opium, 1500) is very much a show of two halves. The first half featured Hal Branson and was billed as a work in progress. This slide show heavy performance concerns remote claims to fame. He firstly gives us a dictionary definition of this and then throws it open to the audience for their remote claims and then these are measured up against previous audience’s instances of sharing a urinal with a D list celebrity. Today we were unlucky in that all of the claims were pretty pedestrian. However, this did serve its’ purpose of setting the scene for Branson’s remote claim to fame, which involves a former job, a French footballer and a shared use of art.

Where this show falls down is in two areas. Essentially, it is largely an anecdote that has been filled out into a 30 minute show and unfortunately not all of the parts add value. The pastiche of observational comedy just ate time for little return, as did Ingredi – mint. There were some nice bits, such as French Paparazzi, self made man and swallow this, which gained good laughs, but these weren’t really enough to sustain the show. The other area is Branson’s delivery. This is not so much fast, as relentless and although he must have paused for breath at some stage I can’t say I noticed it from the pace he set. It was almost as if he had 35 minutes of material to deliver and was squeezing it into 30 and I felt that this didn’t really allow the audience to take it all in. I’ve commented about this show being an enhanced anecdote, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be improved and made to work better and that is the idea with a work in progress. I’d suggest editing the show down into sections that add real value and those that don’t add so much and cutting out those bits to create more time. The audience work was good and I’d switch the balance from power point to more audience interaction and at a slower pace. I think that this would change the tone of the show and improve it. This isn’t a bad show, it just isn’t as good as it could be yet and it is as he said it was, a work in progress.

The second half of Thirty Minutes of One and Half an Hour of the Other belongs to Sammy Dobson. She began by announcing that her show was a bit rude and gave everyone a chance to leave. Naturally nobody was silly enough to do that. She was right about her show being explicit, but this never became crude or salacious, instead her sparkly delivery disarmed any possible offence that may have been given. The narrative of her show is that she is a completist who lost a (very) personal list and then had to recreate it and this includes a bingo machine which spits out numbers to which she then tells the story of that number on her list. Some of these were better than others, but all were good fun. It did begin to feel a bit like a list towards the end, notwithstanding the shoes and animal facts, but she was able to raise the spirit by the odd ad lib.

The scene was nicely set from her introduction and the entire room were fully engaged with this show. There were a couple of #lads that she was able to ad lib lines to about the North East, there were ladies in their late 50s who were laughing like drains at the sexual references and I was thoroughly enjoying myself, too. This is a show with a lot of laughter. The joy, though, is in Dobson’s delivery; she is a skilled performer, who from the off was a relaxed and endearing presence. I’ve seen Dobson before, almost a year ago and she has come a long way in that time. Her half an hour is a little gem of a show and has bags of charm.

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