Symfunny, comedy review: Night of laughter for a good cause

Genial: Jason Manford compered the event: Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images
Genial: Jason Manford compered the event: Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images

Comedian Jason Manford has recently become a multi-tasking performer, appearing in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, hosting the Olivier Awards and even injecting some life into the poisoned chalice of ITV1’s The Nightly Show. So he was the ideal compere for this multi-genre fundraiser for Parkinson’s UK.

Musicians from the pop, rock and classical world – and Aled Jones – came and went quickly. Highlights included mellifluous Katie Melua, musical theatre quartet Collabro and mezzo-soprano Juliette Pochin. All were sumptuously backed by an orchestra and choir, conducted by organiser James Morgan, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s aged 42.

The stand-ups had plenty of time to flex their comedy muscles. Josh Widdicombe sang the praises of contactless cards, sarcastically griping that keying in digits now feels like being in a Victorian workhouse. Rob Deering reworked Frozen’s Let It Go, turning it into a paean to the pain of stepping on Lego.

As is often the case with lengthy line-ups proceedings overran. The I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue team led by Jack Dee should have been renamed I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clock, but as the show hit its third hour it was worth the wait just to hear Barry Cryer explain that “a onesie is what the Queen calls a selfie”. Mrs Brown, without her Boys, was mercifully brief, joking that she thought the event was a tribute to Michael Parkinson.

Final guest Pete Townshend was minus The Who yet hardly solo, with the orchestra adding a symphonic oomph to The One and Love, Reign O’er Me from Quadrophenia, before Jason Manford returned for a singalong of Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life. The genial MC explained that Parkinson’s is no longer known as a disease as that implies it is contagious. The only thing that was contagious last night was laughter.