Although the UK has a fine tradition in producing top- notch musical comedians, we have recently been left in the dust by the arrival of acts like Tim Minchin and Tenacious D, two acts who have found international stardom holding a tune as well as splitting their audience’s sides. This is where Mitch Benn comes in. Not exactly a new name on the comedy circuit, Benn has spent the last few years quietly composing some of the best rib-ticklers you’ll ever hear. He’s a regular on Radio 4’s Friday night staple The Now Show, for which he composes two topical satirical ditties a week. Though he has not been on TV much, he has built up a solid live following and, when he takes the stage and strums the opening chords of I Might Just Have To Murder James Blunt, Glee Club experiences something it will almost certainly never hear again on a comedy night — a full-on sing-a-long.
In the way he delivers his material, Benn is much like a musician playing a show: he will play a song, tell a couple of jokes and then move on to the next track. Not bothering to attempt crowd interplay or one-liners, he relies on his songs to bring the laughter out — which they do, with room to spare. I Want An African Baby, his satirical take on Madonna’s adoption attempt is a complete delight as is his newly-composed World Cup song, which mocks the futility of media hype surrounding England’s chances in the tournament. He rifles through several more superbly crafted songs, before ending the gig with his own tribute to Jeff Wayne’s musical War Of The Worlds, scaling down the giant arena show into his own musical homage to the Hungry Caterpillar, which is extremely funny.
He may not be the ideal fit for panel shows, but Benn’s brand of musical comedy is certainly good enough to make him a household name.