4 March 2012: Amnesty International Presents: The Secret Policeman's Ball, New York, NY, USA
Photos from this show can be found at Coldplaying.com in the Gallery thread for The Secret Policeman's Ball. http://www.coldplaying.com/forum/gallery/showgallery.php/cat/1932
Videos from this show can be found in the first post of the Coldplaying forum live thread for this show at http://www.coldplaying.com/forum/showthread.php?t=91819
All post-show discussion for this show at the forum thread http://www.coldplaying.com/forum/showthread.php?t=91819
All fan reviews have been submitted to us by the members of Coldplaying.com, unless stated otherwise.
The Secret Policeman’s Ball made its American debut at New York's Radio City Music Hall last night. Among the performers were Russell Brand, Liam Neeson, Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Jason Sudeikis, Seth Meyers, Sarah Silverman, Rashida Jones, Paul Rudd, Reggie Watts, Mumford & Sons, Jon Stewart, Coldplay and The Muppets. The last Secret Policeman's Ball was in London four years ago and comedian Brand joked about its American debut: "It's not a hostile takeover."
He was joined in the 180-minute show by comedians Eddie Izzard, John Oliver, Jack Whitehall and Micky Flanagan. The Secret Policeman's Ball was started 36 years ago by Amnesty International and Monty Python's John Cleese, who gathered comics for a gala to raise funds for the human rights organisation. Videos were played from three members of the Pythons - Eric Idol, Terry Jones and Michael Palin. During the show, American television comedian Stewart appeared with a Kim Jong-il impersonator, who kept interrupting him. “I thought this was going to be Kim Kardashian,” Stewart joked.
Statler and Waldorf, the grumpy old critics from The Muppets, observed the show from their customary position of the balcony, dispensing their usual negative comments. "It's a young curmudgeon's game now," said Statler, as he checks his mobile phone. In other memorable moments, Mumford & Sons were introduced as “a band of hillbillies"; while actor Stiller and David Walliams discussed how words have different meanings on both sides of the pond. 'Bush' was defined by Walliams as "Too embarrassing to mention,” as Stiller added: “Same here.”Piers Morgan” means “annoying” in both countries, they agreed.
Chris Martin of Coldplay said, “We take pleasure in being the least funny act here.”
Actor and director Maung Thura Zarganar of Myanmar introduced a serious note to the show, recalling the importance of freedom of expression. Released from prison in October 2009 after an intervention by Amnesty International, he talked about his 11 years in prison, where he was sent by the local military junta "just for making jokes." 
The Secret Policeman's Ball — a live charity event benefiting Amnesty International — is a British comedy institution that originated in the 1970s, and has been held intermittently every decade since. Last night, for the first! time! ever!, the Ball came to the U.S. More specifically, it came to New York's Radio City Music Hall, and it brought with it Coldplay, Mumford & Sons, Russell Brand, Paul Rudd, and roughly 7/9ths of the current SNL cast. Kicking off the night of yuks and belly laughs and chortles was — Bishop Desmond Tutu! He appeared via a pretaped segment, slagged off the rest of the night's lineup, and was actually really funny. And then it was on, with a breakneck pace of stand-up and sketches and famous people and not-that-famous-but-totally-great people showing up for minutes at a time. Jon Stewart and Kim Jong-Un — as portrayed by Rex “Ari's assistant” Lee — rolled up; Kim threatened to throw Jon in his “traveling acid bog,” and then had his mobile hate-spew podium carted away. Eddie Izzard made the very salient “If God exists, why didn't he ever flick Hitler's head off?” point. Noel Fielding of the Mighty Boosh and Russell Brand — who had a chain dangling in the front of his pants, very subtly pointing the world to his genitalia — popped up to bash a non-Amnesty contributor (“she's like a female Pol Pot”) in the seats. Then they made fun of the 10 Iranian women currently facing stoning by death for adultery.
Fielding: “You slept with 10 women last night.” Brand: “Yes, I am responsible for most of the Iranian stonings. But I ask them just to throw pebbles, or gravel. It's more of a gentle shower.”
And that's as close as Russell Brand got to referencing his divorce from Katy Perry! Sorry, everyone. Moving on: Bill Hader showed up as Julian Assange and, just as he has every day since probably the third grade, immediately became the funniest person in the room. Statler & Waldorf went in on Mumford & Sons: “They do all my estate planning.” Then they pretended to tweet, and it was surprisingly endearing. Those little Muppet old-man fingers, just typing away! Oh man. And then ... even more comedians. Like: Chris O'Dowd, Bobby Moynihan, Jay Pharoah, Kristen Wiig, Fred Armisen, Paul Rudd, David Cross and Bob Odenkirk, Taran Killam in a Chewbacca mask, Ben Stiller dropping Blue Steel, and Sarah Silverman talking fondly of the days she was but a sperm in her dad's balls. Possibly stealing the show were two of the somewhat less well-known stand-ups; I'd seen Hannibal Buress a bunch of times, and he still slayed me (lots of excellent, plane-based humor). Jack Whitehall was introduced, I believe non-facetiously, as "Britain's hottest young comic," but I'd never heard of him before. Then he compared sex with his high-school girlfriend in his mother's house on a creaky bed to the lovemaking of Anne Frank's parents, and he had my respect and support forever.
Wrapping things up, of course, was Coldplay, the biggest band in the game. It was all very pleasant — they played “Viva La Vida,” “Paradise,” and “Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall,” and they brought their Technicolor dream stage from the Grammys with them. Also, at one point, Chris Martin lifted up his shirt to wipe away some sweat, but strategically grabbed the bottom end, thereby flashing just a touch of that trademark Chris Martin sexual prowess. Jay-Z, however, did not show up, nor did we get any stories out of Chris about babysitting Blue Ivy. So: close to, but not quite, a perfect night. 
Roadie #42 blogs about The Secret Policeman's Ball
Coldplay played Radio City Music Hall back in the Parachutes days. I know this because I recently found a box of Guy’s first ever camcorder tapes. On this tape they were all looking *incredibly* young and fresh, wandering around the stage before soundcheck marvelling at how immense the place was. It is indeed a hugely impressive building...
Sound-checking some ten years later, they’re somewhat more worldly and experienced. Chris arrives and throws himself into the rehearsal with all the energy of a full show. Clearly it’s been a good birthday…
For anyone not familiar with the Secret Policeman’s Ball, it’s a fundraising event for Amnesty International. The majority of performers throughout the evening are comedians and there is a definite political slant to the humour. I wander out and watch a good few of them. John Stewart, (who had the band on his show as guests during Viva), is predictably brilliant, as is Russell Brand.
The tiny backstage corridors of the theatre are in full on Muppet-Show-mode as folks fly on and off the stage. Waiting for the lift to the dressing room can feel like being in the middle of an episode of Saturday Night Live, as comedy legends greet each other left and right.
Coldplay are closing the show and do so in a celebratory style. It’s only three songs, but they explode out of the gate and by the time the confetti is falling, Chris has bounced up off the stage and into the balconies. Wonderful chaos…
It’s one of the more unusual shows we’ve done on this album’s outing - which it must be said has had its fair share of odd shows! We have almost a whole month off now (or pottering in the studio, which is at least a change of gear, if not a complete rest). I have to admit I’ll be glad to get into doing our own shows, come April. The simplicity of just turning up and doing our own thing will feel like a great luxury after months of promo and TV.
I don’t think we’ve ever ‘started’ a tour with the band in such fine form and the direction so well set. I’ve a feeling they’ll be great gigs and an enjoyable time for all. I guess we’ll find out soon enough…