Tonight I have been at Red Redmond’s gig in Doncaster at the Queen Crafthouse. It was a cracking night that unfortunately involved a horrible member of the audience being asked to leave after he became obnoxious, which is unusual as people in the midweek are usually chilled. The venue itself is a rock pub, with a similar vibe to The Maze or The Rigger and it has a laid back casual atmosphere. The audience were a colourful bunch and either seemed to be fairly young or pretty old, with the middle aged in a minority. Whilst most of them were up for the comedy, there were 3-4 who were a little bit prone to shout out and became more so as the night went on. Amazingly it only cost £2 to get in, which is stupendously low priced to see some of the acts that were on.
Red Redmond (MC)
Red was a nicely relaxed compere, who in a clean and largely unsweary opening, brought everyone onboard. To begin with, though, he was bedevilled by a bit of music playing quietly through the speakers (Rainbow and then The Eagles), which led into an accurate observation of The Eagles being classic ‘dad music’. Red struck a bit of gold with the idea of Yorkshire entering the Olympics as a separate entity and I shouldn’t be surprised if there isn’t a short routine just in that premise alone. He got a big laugh for some strong ad-libbed lines about emos, which went down a treat with the rock crowd. I enjoyed the Taylor Swift story; Red’s face lit up with enthusiasm and I think everyone bounced off of him being so happy about seeing her. The audience were pretty chilled apart from one bloke sat near the front, who upon being asked what he did, claimed to be a comedian. I don’t know why people do that. It’s not as though proper comedians won’t know they are trying to fake it, as they’d certainly know them if they had any kind of profile or industry reputation. Upon being asked where his next gig was, he answered the Frog and Parrot in Manchester and Red was rightly derisive. This chap, though, would come back to haunt the show during Freddy’s set. This was low key, stress free compering that was enjoyable to watch.
Little is an act that I’ve always appreciated seeing. He has a pleasantly quirky sense of humour and if you buy into his style then you are in for a splendid time. Tonight he started off well with a callback to The Eagles, mentioned by Red during his compering and moved smoothly from this into a good joke about Metallica, which came alive when he started to sing. This was then followed by a couple of jokes before he discussed his accent, where he received a shout out about Cumbria from an old Geordie sat in the middle of the room. Little dealt with this by quoting a bit of Wordsworth – with added twist – which was a solid joke and the follow up involving the phone call worked well, too. The routine concerning long words seemed to be just a touch too long for some people and I think he lost a couple along the way, which was a shame, as there is a lot to like about it. Perhaps if he were to add in some comedy definitions for some of these words as he builds the joke it might help with this. One person asked him to tell a joke, I couldn’t see who it was from where I was sat, but I believe it might have been the person who had claimed to be a comedian when Red was chatting to them. This interruption could have been irritating, but Tom had a ready made knock knock joke that led into his closing routine. This was a congenial set that whilst it didn’t carry everyone in the room all the way to the end, still had a lot to admire in it. On a side note, it was nice to see Little staying till the end to support the other acts through his presence in the audience.
We resumed after the intermission with Coughlin, an act I’d not seen before. Without any preamble, which made a nice change to seeing some acts spend a few minutes compering the room before beginning their set, he launched straight into his. The material concerned wildlife documentaries and the genitalia of animals. This was delivered in a low energy way that I liked. However, despite octopus aliens being a great idea (I’m surprised that facehuggers from Aliens were mentioned during the picnic scene) and there being some good lines in this routine, I thought that the law of diminishing returns did kick in a bit. In fairness, the writing was strong with a good eye for the funny details and the audience enjoyed it, but it would have been nice to see something with a bit more variety. An entire set about nature and the genitalia of animals seemed to prove that you could have too much of a good thing.
Next was Caislin Boyle, who in contrast to Coughlin, who stayed more or less within one topic, never seemed to find a topic that she did more than just make a short visit to. Breast milk, fitbits, her sexuality, her brother, the world cup, her father, gay marriage and muffs, amongst other things, all featured in her set and Boyle may have been better off just concentrating on a few of these things and digging a little bit deeper instead of going through them all. The world cup was topical, but it would be nice to hear a joke about Columbia that doesn’t feature cocaine. Muff, however, was a great routine that is unique and showed a lot of promise. Boyle’s delivery had a few erms in it, which isn’t disastrous, but when combined with her telling people that she’d come to a particular topic in a bit, quite a few words that didn’t add anything to what she was saying and her going off on the odd tangent when she was distracted, it made it hard for her to build momentum. This was a performance that felt disjointed partly due to the number of topics and also due to the unfocussed delivery. Boyle received laughs and I liked some of her stuff (particularly muff), but I think with more stage time and a more focussed delivery she’ll be a stronger act.
Our closing act was Freddy Quinne, an act whom I really like to see, but who owing to geographical reasons, I don’t see as much of as I’d like. He opened with a wonderfully daft prop gag brought on by spotting a fitting in the room and followed this by saying that if you liked that, then you’d enjoy….. naming an act who specialises in daft prop gags, which was a delightful Easter egg for anyone in the room who follows UK comedy. This was then followed by a brief, but relatable bit of material about hay fever and then a routine about people transitioning. I’d read a bit on facebook about this routine, mostly comments from people who hadn’t seen it and were assuming that Quinne had taken it in a particular direction. It’s a solid routine that makes some valid points in an inoffensive way and there were plenty of laughs along the way, with George getting a very big response.
Quinne then moved into discussing an ex of his with eczema, which led to one guy shouting something out about crisps. Freddy dealt with him pretty firmly, spending a couple of minutes verbally working this guy over. Whilst this may have brought his set to a momentary halt, it was a joy to watch and it didn’t half inject some energy into the room. Just as he was about to resume, Quinne noticed an older guy with a mullet and commented on it, pointing out that he didn’t look like he’d get into an opera house. To this, the chap replied that he actually had some of his artwork hanging in an opera house. To Freddy this was game on, as he had a few doubts about this man’s claim and so he paused the gig whilst he googled him, keeping up a great running commentary that had everyone fair wanting to know how things stood. The result was that the man with the mullet was indeed a genuine artist, so Freddy did the square thing in apologising to him for doubting him and resumed the gig to big laughs.
However, just as he began to carry on, the old Geordie who had heckled Tom for being from Cumbria then shouted out to Freddy again, having misheard his age earlier: ’38? You must have had a hard paper round.’ This was uncalled for and not particularly pleasant. Quinne had noticed him earlier upon his first shout out and had created the character of him being an old soldier who voted brexit whilst simultaneously living in Spain and he returned to this theme by quoting in full the current Royal Navy recruitment advert (born in Carlisle, etc), for which he received an applause break.
Realising that his set had been comprehensively derailed by 3-4 people shouting out things, Quinne switched to room work, starting an impromptu Q&A with the audience. It was at this point that the bloke at the front who had claimed to be a comedian earlier switched from being disruptive to becoming a repugnant bell end. He shouted something obnoxious at Freddy and got booed by the audience for it and then in an effort to put Freddy on the back foot chased it up with an accusation that he was transphobic because of his earlier routine (it wasn’t). It was at this moment that Red Redmond appeared from nowhere and stood in front of this man and told him categorically how things stood. The heckler then tried to give Red a bit of lip and was asked by Red if he wanted to leave, which he then did. Red Redmond is one of the smallest built people on the circuit and so for him to square up to someone who is sat with at least one friend, it shows real guts on his part.
There was only a few minutes left of the set and Freddy did well to continue and see it out. Despite all of the interruptions there was a lot of laughter, too. Quinne’s room work was impressive as was the material he managed to get out.
Quinne has a dvd out, which is available here.
Regardless of the interruptions, which were a bit of a one off, this was an enjoyable show and it’s fun night. It’s well worth acts applying to perform here.