With an ethos that focuses on comedy and comedy alone, Group Therapy is exactly how it sounds - a collective of people coming together for the pure, unadulterated sake of laughter and enjoyment. Having run successfully in it’s home of Manchester since 2012, as well as making its way to Nottingham and later London, Group Therapy made its Leeds debut on a busy Friday night at Sheaf St, with comedy fans completely filling out the venue.
Compare Jack Evans sets the energetic tone for the evening, bouncing onto the stage and cheerfully informing the crowd that this night will be a one filled with laughter. By randomly selecting members of an unexpecting audience, asking about their jobs and lives before finding something funny to say about each, he shows them that nobody is safe from ridicule. He introduces first comic Neil Harris, a self-proclaimed geek who turns his experiences with crippling social anxiety into farcical - yet entirely sincere - scenarios, that allow his audience to take in elaborate anecdotes before making them crease with some cleverly delivered conclusions.
Tom Lawrinson follows, whose introductory line let’s his audience instantly know that he’s a comic with a creative mind full of weird, wonderful and completely unexpected punchlines. So much so that he leaves tears running down the faces of the audience as he covers his struggles in dating, approaching women and more. Russian Olga Koch completes the night’s first half, as she tells tales of her homeland Russia and how it compares to other places she’s lived, most notably America, where she shares her background of dating someone a few years her junior that has the audience both cringing and applauding.
Comic caricature Kelli Taylor tackles the second half, acting as a hairdresser from Hull, talking a mile a minute and saying some almost atrocious things before uttering the catchphrase ‘what am I like?’ as a weak yet priceless and recognisable defense. Her satirical take on a character that the majority of the audience can recognise, is an intelligent and unique way of poking fun at the less socially aware members of communities.
Josh Jones stepped up next to deliver some smart punchlines surrounding social commentary and sexuality, with his overtly and over-the-top camp personna offering comic relief from the problems he has faced as a young gay man growing up. Jones manages to turn stereotypes of the LGBTQ community on their head, allowing the viewers to laugh at ordinarily taboo material. Finishing up by stating to the ‘old white men’ within the audience that times are changing, Josh receives a raucous final applause in support and endorsement.
Headliner Sean Mcloughlin takes to the stage and continues the night’s hilarity as he candidly tells his woes in a terrifyingly relatable way. Topics ranging from being skint, to the struggles of modern day dating, all the way to how his love affair for alcohol being almost too close to dependency, has his captivated audience slapping their laps and laughing out of uncomfortability with the blatant familiarity of his material. Consistently leaning and looming over his close crowd, Mcloughlin’s passion for causing others to erupt into fits of hysterics is apparent, yet the intimate nature of his friendly stage presence invites a front row attendee to heckle the comic. No match for Sean, as although he’s seemingly shocked by the interruption, he handles it with more witty on-the-spot jokes at the hecker's expense, with the comic’s grand finale ultimately pointing fun at the bold and brash attendee.
See the list below for future comedy nights like this one, with the next Group therapy featuring Nish Kumar on Friday 1st June.
Image courtesy of Charity Chuckle.
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