Elvis McGonagall returns to the Corn Hall as funny, and as angry, as ever

Luke Wright hosted his poetry night with his usual charm and good humour, but otherwise seemed in reflective mood. Perhaps conscious that this quarterly treat is packed with a regular audience, he was keen to offer up work we hadn’t heard before, much of which he seemed to be giving a test drive. There were some familiar poems – notably two sweet observations about his sons – but whether toying with his inner devil, satirising obtuse poetry, or holding up a mirror to his self-declared cheesy personality, his was an unusually melancholic set. His univocal skills continue to impress, but it was his affection for third agers in Gerontophile that got the biggest reaction – given the audience demographic, no prizes for guessing why.

Luke’s guest surprised us all by revealing it’s been three years since he was last at the Corn Hall (what have we all been up to?) and what a welcome return it was for Elvis McGonagall. Kicking off with a list of honourable Johnsons was only going to end one way, and he didn’t disappoint, with a merciless attack on the Prime Minister, which he then doubled down with a list of men called Boris. He followed this up with a commentary of the state of the nation, Brexit and the iniquity of the government’s immigration policy. Covid didn’t escape his attention either, with excerpts from his diary proving his condemnation isn’t all hindsight. If that sounds a bit much for an evening’s entertainment, it’s worth emphasising how cleverly McGonagall manages to be both pointed and funny. Closing on Miracle, a poem about his partner, he surprised us again, managing to show how tender and loving he can be as well.