REVIEW: East End Entertainments (Museum of London, Docklands in partnership with Comedy Club 4 Kids)

Mummy has been meaning to take the munchkins to see something done by the Comedy Club 4 Kids for some time now. Mummy has also been harbouring vague intentions of making the DLR pilgrimage out to the Museum of London, Docklands. Mummy, being worldy and wise, has of course already investigated this fine educational establishment. Admittedly this was for a corporate Christmas dinner around 8 years ago, back when Mummy had the kind of job where Christmas festivities were swankier affairs, and did not simply involve necking lukewarm wine in the office basement. Actually, Mummy does not recall seeing anything of the museum itself on that occasion. But Mummy digresses. The important thing is that East End Entertainments provided the perfect opportunity for a free family day out that ticked two things off the “occasionally do family activities that are not musical theatre” list. So off we went.

The festival ran across the entire weekend and spanned 4 floors of the impressive museum. We rocked up at Sunday lunchtime and immediately headed to Rum and Sugar to feed the munchkins. And acquire a nice cocktail for Mummy to take the edge off an afternoon of
educational exhibits and children’s entertainment.   

Mummy can recommend the Posh Rum Planter’s Punch from Rum & Sugar.

Sufficiently revived, we headed up to the third floor to catch “mischievous cabaret star” Ada Campe. The description was certainly accurate. Ada’s act felt like the sort of thing that Mummy remembers witnessing at children’s birthday parties around a quarter of a century ago. But in a good way. It was sort of weirdly nostalgic but also distinctly more hilarious than Mummy’s childhood memories of Paddy the Clown (who I’m pretty sure had the exact same magic colouring book). It might have been the rum, but more likely it was Ada’s wicked banter and approach to audience participation. Mummy is still not sure what was so funny about a small girl brandishing a balloon sword chasing a small boy (or “stripey child” as he is now known) in a moose hat with a protective balloon snake. But it was utterly hilarious. Ada manages to create comedy out of the simplest situations, and it is easy to see why she was voted Leicester Square Theatre’s Old Comedian of the Year 2018. In more ways that one, she demonstrates that the old ones really are sometimes the best.

Adults, your job is to stay off your phones. Unless you’re tweeting about how marvellous I am, in which case that’s fine. (Ada Campe)

After Ada, we dashed down to the ground floor to catch Mat Ricardo. Not just a smart talker in a smart suit, Mat can do some really impressive stuff. A lot of classic cabaret tricks, but done with style and some surprises thrown in. Mummy was particularly impressed with his use of cigar boxes and kitchen utensils. And his quip about East London audiences appreciating good knife handling skills. Mrs Mummy says she enjoyed his juggling. The munchkins were mostly just concerned about whether he had indeed managed to lodge a large knife in his forearm. It all built up to what appeared to be a traditional “take the tablecloth off the table without all the stuff smashing” trick. Did he manage it? You’ll have to see him for yourself.

A novel use for kitchen utensils

Taking a break from comedy, we decided to explore the museum. And were pleasantly surprised. We’ve done a fair few child-oriented, London themed museums, but this one tops them. It has loads of interactive exhibits, including large areas where you can immerse yourself in historical dockland life. And a really cool giant hamster wheel type thing that the kids (and presumably grown-ups) can run in. Mummy’s one regret is that there was so much to see that we couldn’t fit it all in alongside the comedy. So it looks like we’ll be back on the DLR in the near future. Actually, that’s not entirely true. Mummy also has some regrets about allowing the Munchkins to peruse the gift shop at the end of the day. But that’s a perennial problem.

Shelter in which to hide from Hercules and/or Sharks according to the Munchkins.
Making matchstick music halls (presented by Wilton’s Music Hall). Tried to avoid this one for fear of having yet more crafty things to bring home. Clearly failed. Will eventually be discarded when the Munchkins are at school. Blame to be placed on our lovely cleaner should they query their absence.

Then another sprint down to the basement to join Dan de la Motte‘s “Build a Joke Workshop”. Mummy has already made a number of observations about this session on Twitter, to the effect that children are entirely incapable of constructing a joke. As further evidence supporting this proposition, Mummy recommends following @kidswritejokes. Somewhere during this session, Mummy started to wonder whether it might have been wise to forgo the museum bits of the day in favour of another cocktail. She does, however, feel that the munchkins managed not to entirely embarrass themselves with their joke writing efforts. And leaves it up to the reader to determine the level of parental assistance provided for these corkers:

Mummy and Quaver’s mission to tell a joke incorporating the homophones “deer” and “dear”:

Q: “What did Bambi say when he fell over?” A: “Oh de[e][a]r.”

Oh dear indeed.

Mrs Mummy and Crotchet’s attempt at a joke incorporating the homophones “band” and “banned”:

Q: Why did the elastic have to leave the box? A: Because he was ban[ne]d.

Get out.

And finally, Mummy’s personal favourite homonym joke (designed by Mummy, delivered by Quaver):

Q: Who did the candle marry? A: His perfect match.

I’ll get my coat.

Quaver practising phonics while Mummy tries desperately to think of something funny.

We also managed to see Dan doing a stand-up set to close the festival. A clear glutton for punishment, he allowed the small humans to tell jokes once more. The highlight of which was Crotchet being invited on stage to close the show with her favourite joke. Mummy and Mrs Mummy held their breath nervously, wondering if she could indeed remember any jokes. Thankfully, she came out with our family classic “interrupting starfish” and Dan just about managed to realise what was happening in time to bend down and let her palm him in the face.

Dan de la Motte desperately searching for a punch line in a sea of terrible children’s jokes

A brilliant way to end the weekend and a new museum to add to the list of places to go on a rainy day. If only there was a way of avoiding exiting via the gift shop…..