Craig Hill - Manchester Contact Theatre - 25.5.05

Comedy's a straight mans world and invariably middle class. It's almost as if you enter a comedy venue there's a subliminal message that says "No Blacks, No Women and No Gays". You can almost count the latter on one hand (or one fist in Julian Clary's case) and it's part of Queer Up North festival that gay comedian Craig Hill gets to shine in Manchester.

Designer Magazine first witnessed Hill on the Live Floor Show a couple of years ago where he was gently ribbed by Alan Murray Pub Landlord as "we don't want that sort in here" before breaking down into a sexuality challenging  memory from childhood which most homophobes have. It's Hill's playing up to the camp stereotype that have lead many to call him a Scottish Graham Norton and in many ways it's accurate. A roll call of the gays, lesbians, fag hags and straights (or should that be straight as in the singular) lead Hill into a local reference routine with the bears from the Rembrandt and the twinks from the New Union. "You guys have got class" Hill says mockingly, before adding "working class" dismissively.

Whether Hill could cross over into the mainstream audience remains to be seen. Both Norton and Clary have had no problems and the constant references to fisting are well tread. It's the songs that are most likely to gain favour with the public, but with the exception of Girls Aloud the targets are just a tad 2003 with Atomic Kittens "Whole Again" changed to signing on the dole again and Catherine Zeta Jones "All That Jazz" written as you guessed it to Michael Douglas. Elsewhere it's reference points to booking in B&B's in Edinburgh if your two gay men, the fact that Yorkshire people sound like ventriloquist dummies with their slack jawed lethargic tones.

A brief set from Hill shows he could cross over, but it not there will always be a loyal and dedicated audience for him here.

Alex McCann

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