John Finnemore's Flying Visit

Lighthouse, Poole

I THINK it's fair to say most people haven't heard of John Finnemore outside the Radio 4 comedy bubble.

Hence, when I announced to various people I was going to see a live comedy act and then told them who it was, I was met with blank stares.

It is, in fact, criminal that Finnemore exists in the medium of radio alone. If there's any justice, he will be propelled to superstar status some time soon and be appearing on our television screens. That's if Radio 4 listeners are willing to share him.

Former member of the Cambridge Footlights, and one-time Dorset resident in his youth, Finnemore is a top-class comedy writer and performer who loves having fun with the English language and taking it to the most absurd levels.

Writer of the radio series Cabin Pressure, in which he also starred with Benedict Cumberbatch, Stephanie Cole and Roger Allam, Finnemore has also penned his own sketch shows, supported by co-stars Carrie Quinlan, Margaret Cabourn-Smith, Lawry Lewin and Simon Kane.

This quartet accompany him on the Flying Visit tour for a show of sublime nonsense in which we are treated to some old gems and some new material. Steward Arthur Shappey from Cabin Pressure makes an appearance too, supported by First Officer Douglas Richardson (Allam), who sadly only appears in voice-over format.

There were laughs aplenty as we were treated to Finnemore's unique brand of humour, playing with words and subverting everyday situations. And there were some very funny songs, too.

During this two hours of glorious silliness we were introduced to an assortment of characters including mnemonic man, the artist employed to paint 'slightly off' Disney characters on ice-cream vans, the goldfish demanding better memories from King Neptune (only they keep forgetting what they want), Poo Bear's visit to an addiction meeting due to his 'destructive relationship with honey', and the pirate skulls who can't say the letter 'p' because they don't have any lips (licks!).

The sketches are cleverly linked in a very subtle way, adding colour and context to the finale as Edward Elgar et al search for the lost chord, pulled by huskies of course.

As God (Allam) declares at the end when the lost chord is found, 'Ooh, how tremendously pleasing.'

My thoughts exactly.