I said last week that fans of UK comedy were in for a treat. Well, last Wednesday, Doc Brown and Fin Taylor certainly did not disappoint.
Filling the Savoy-teatteri on a Wednesday night, in summer, in Helsinki, was always going to be a tall order, but a good number of comedy fans came along to see a great show.
The evening was opened up by Fin Taylor who did a 20-odd minute set to get the crowd warmed up. Fin’s self-deprecating comments on his own thoughts and lifestyle worked well. He says a lot of the stuff a lot of us think (normally when drunk or hungover), but rarely dare say or admit. His observations on daily life - vegetarians, alcohol, porn etc - are delivered in a dry manner with heaps of sarcasm. He reminds me of Joe Wilkinson with his dour and dry outlook on his own life as well as that going on around him.
His irreverent delivery to subjects that cross all of our minds at times - the things we think and plan when drunk, not trusting that one person who stays sober at a party - work well with the audience, even if a couple of references don’t work that well with the locals. Speaking to Fin after the show he told me “The audiences here are really switched on, and the only difference I found was they missed a couple of references to sort of more cultural stuff, other than that it’s like playing any crowd at home!”
Although it’s his first time in Finland, Fin is no stranger to the Baltics, having played at a number of English comedy nights in various countries and he’s hoping to be back soon, "I'm in Norway for the first time in September and then after that who knows! Hopefully soon though, it’s a cool part of the world.” Fin is also currently preparing for the Edinburgh Fringe comedy festival (tickets available here). If you want to check out more of Fin, you can visit his website here and you can also follow him on Twitter.
The main act.
I’ve actually known about, and followed (not in a creepy way), Doc Brown for a number of years. I knew of him years ago when he was a rapper and before he got in to comedy. Since then I’ve followed a lot of the work he’s done, so it was a pleasure to see him perform live at last.
Being the main act, Doc had the task of filling a 75 minute slot. As he went on with his show, it certainly didn’t feel like 75 minutes - I could have watched much more. Doc himself didn’t baulk at the task and told me “I didn’t want it to seem like I ‘phoned in’ my part, so I really made the effort with a full show. 75 minutes is a long time in comedy, normally I’m done after 20 minutes, in and out. Not this time though.”
Doc effortlessly switched from anecdotes, to one-liners, to a number of raps, keeping the crowd entertained the whole way through. It’s clear he’s been keeping up with his rhyme-writing skills as he performed a more recent tracked based on making Kanye West smile. He’s also making a musical comeback - more on that later.
The jokes came thick and fast, ranging from topics like childhood, to race and sexism, to music, to getting old, to tales of his own family. All peppered with a number of his own comedy rap tracks that had the crowd laughing again and again - especially Real Balls.
I was lucky enough to catch up with Doc after the show to find out what he had planned for the rest of the year. “I’m preparing a 10 minute piece for Jon Bishop’s new BBC show. Coming to Helsinki helped with that as I got to try out some out some material that I was hoping to use. It went really well with tonight’s crowd, so it’s likely it’ll end up in the final piece I do for the show.”
“I’m doing a set at Glasto (Glastonbury festival) again this year. Last time I headlined so didn’t really get to enjoy much of the music, but this time I’ve scheduled it so that I get to see Mary J Blige on the Friday, do my own set that night, and then get the Saturday to hang out and enjoy the festival.”
“I’m also writing a 3-part drama / thriller for ITV, too. It’s my first foray in to ‘dramatic’ television, so I’m really looking forward to this one. It’s about a father who’s an ageing gangster and his son who’s an up and coming lawyer. So they have these completely conflicting worlds, it’s going to be really interesting.”
I didn’t want to bring up the question I know he gets asked a lot - about working with Ricky Gervais - but Doc had some exciting news about the up-coming project they have lined up, so shared this with me, “I’ve got a tour coming up in September, but as I do that I’ll also be doing pre-production stuff for the movie I have lined up with Ricky - A Life On The Road. It’s a buddy / road movie and follows David Brent 10-15 years later (after The Office) as he tries to get his music career off the ground. I play and up and coming music artist that is also on the road with him.” Personally I can’t wait for this as Equality Street (David Brent and Doc’s character, Johnson) was genuinely brilliant!
And, much to my pleasure, Doc is going back to his roots early next year by releasing a new album! “I’m making a full-on comeback! I’ve done about 10 songs so far, 6 of which will probably make the final album - it’s some of the best stuff I’ve ever made.”
Doc performs ‘comedy rap’ during his stand up routines, but this new album will be far from that. “All my stuff has always been lighthearted, but this is also serious rap - not the comedy stuff you see at my shows. There’s going to be proper hard beats. And will I be proper spitting bars? Yes!”
Matti Simpson, promoter for Embla, told me “Doc and Fin had a great night, as did the crowd. Having sone this gig and A Night Of British Comedy earlier in the year, we can see there’s a real need and want for great international acts here in Helsinki. We’re going to be doing our utmost to bring some of the biggest and funniest comedy acts to Finland on a regular basis!” Keep an eye on the Embla Facebook page for all the latest news.
I’m looking forward to seeing what Doc brings to an ITV drama, as well being really excited about the new movie and hearing the new album. If you get the chance to see Doc on tour later this year, I highly recommend it. To stay up to date on the tour and everything else, check out Doc’s brand new site, Facebook page, and Twitter. I was also lucky enough to have a few drinks with Doc and Fin post-show, and have to say they're both top guys, and I'm looking forward to seeing much more of them in the future!