“So what do you do?” Rich Hall asks a male member of the audience in the front row.
“Heavy construction.” Comes the reply.
“Oh, the best kind.” Says the grumpy, ex-North Carolina man. Then, after discovering the man’s name is Lionel and he comes from Holywell, he embarks on an improvised country song called Big Bad Lionel – a song about a Heavy Construction Worker from Holywell who rescues a boy from a well using startling feats of engineering.
Rich Hall is well known on these shores for his regular appearances on QI. One of my favourite retorts of his was when Stephen Fry was explaining that nothing rhymes with the word orange before a stern sounding voice from the panel said, “Doringe… Door hinge”.
With rhyming skills like that, and his love of the music of his home state, Rich Hall’s Hoedown was always going to be a success. He managed to improvise songs about everyone in the the front row of the intimate basement of the Soho Theatre, which happily included L and me. He had tough material to work with, with L being in events management and me being in e-learning but he managed it:
“And L said, ‘I’ll get with him, hell yeah!’ Even though Ed’s in e-learning and a total failure.”
During the song he presented me with a Claire’s Accessories ring which he hoped I’d use to make the first proposal during one of his shows. Seeing the fear in L’s eyes, I decided to relent on this occasion.
Aside from the improvisation, Hall has a setlist which includes songs like “Tight Wranglers” as song about larger ladies who defy physics to get into their jeans and “George Foreman Grill”, with the lyrics, “He didn’t float like a butterfly or sting like bee, he just lay on that canvas all quiet and still, but he was dreaming up the plans for a cheap sandwich grill”.
Rich Hall’s Hoedown in the Soho Theatre has tickets available for tonight, then it’s sold out after which you can catch it through August at the Edinburgh Fringe.
By Edward Lines