Canal House: Sachin Kumarendran, Hannah Weetman, Eppie Brilliant, Ben ashurst, Charlotte Cropper, Tharun Chelley, Rob Kemp and Lovell Smith (MC)

Tonight I was in Nottingham at Canal House for the NCF comedy night. I was really pleased to be here and judging by the numbers and the atmosphere, so were plenty of others.

Lovell Smith (MC)

With his cheerful and non-threatening demeanour, Smith was someone everyone was pleased to chat to. He’s a happy and charismatic chap and this naturalness was very endearing. At the moment, Smith’s material, which he skilfully works into his compering, is doing most of the heavy lifting in getting the laughs, but given more experience with audience work he’ll make a solid MC. There was a slight slip with the name of one of the acts that he wasn’t familiar with and it might be beneficial to note down the names of the acts on his hand, but this was just a minor thing. I’d like to see Smith do more compering.

Sachin Kumarendran

Kumarendran is quite a smooth act and was getting laughs within seconds of taking to the stage. His tone is absolutely spot on and it works well with what he’s doing. Tonight there was some material that was new to me being performed. Parliamentary porn was great and gas and air worked well, but probably needs a bigger ending. I was impressed by how deftly Kumarendran dealt with a guy who was looking to get a bit too chatty about his views on Middlesbrough. He didn’t shut him down heavily, but instead managed to slide by him without getting derailed. This was a very good set.

Hannah Weetman

Weetman is an act of contrasts. She’s quite high energy and almost dramatic in her performance, yet at the same time a lot of her material is quite downbeat. This contrast works really well and she can make a list of maladies funny. It was wonderful to hear her get applause for Premier. This was a good performance and one that was more on the nail than what I’ve seen before from her.

Eppie Brilliant

Brilliant is refreshingly talented and different to many musical acts. Unlike some, they eschewed parody songs and went with stuff that they’d crafted themself. These worked a treat, with the cat song striking a huge chord with many in the audience. The lady sat in front of me was dying with laughter and that’s always superb to see. Brilliant ended with getting people to suggest songs and this was a lovely idea. This made their performance feel very much of the moment and had everyone following what was occurring. Two suggestions that may be beneficial would be a re-think of the brexit gag at the top, as that confused a few people and didn’t really get a big laugh and when they are gigging down south, possibly speaking a bit more slowly might help those unfamiliar with their accent. These are minor points and this was a set that I enjoyed. I’m sure I’ll see Brilliant again.

Ben Ashurst

I last saw Ashurst two and a half years ago and he’s massively improved in this time. Tonight everything was far stronger than before. His pacing was good, his writing was decent, the timing was spot on and he was far more comedy savvy than before. He managed to effortlessly make a virtue out of there not being a ‘proper’ ending to McDonald’s. It was even good to see that he’d been listening to Lovell’s compering and knew who was the driving instructor. This was a solid set where the laughs came regularly.

Charlotte Cropper

This was an extremely promising performance. I was impressed by Cropper when I last saw her and she was even better this time. Her set ups had been cut back and she wasn’t having to speak so quickly to get everything in and so her conversational delivery worked a treat. There were plenty of little performance bits, small in themselves, but all of which really added to what she was doing, such as the action on hamster. The spa day routine was champion. This was a versatile performance with lots of nuance.

Tharun Chelley

Chelley had a great night. His powerful voice and grounded delivery was quite striking. Of his material, Leicester and lock down feels a bit dated now, Arab deserved more and the props probably should have been A2, however, language was a great routine that he delivered well and everyone was invested in. The pause on German built up the atmosphere. This was a set that generated a lot of laughs and I think everyone would have liked to have seen more.

Rob Kemp

Kemp was trying out some new ideas and his natural charm and honed stagecraft ensured that this was a very enjoyable ten minutes. There was quite a lot of relatable stuff here and several of the routines could be developed further. Deliveries was probably the strongest of these, but plaques was a close second. Bellows didn’t really fly and just seemed to flummox people. This set was a lot of fun and definitely had a feel good factor to it.

The Shiny Tap: Lou Conran, Simon Lomas, Eddy Brimson and Stevie Gray (MC)

Tonight I was in Little Eaton at the Shiny Tap for the Flat Cap comedy night. This is a delightful little gig and owing to being on a Tuesday night, Stevie doesn’t half get some talented comedians on the bill. Tonight was a case in point. Three comics, all with different styles and all at the top of their game. Stevie had a great night himself. The first person he spoke to was Neil, who had once insured a brothel. Patrick wasn’t especially forthcoming, but Gray adroitly moved on and chatted to others, easily discovering plenty that the other acts could make use of. This was a great example of non-threatening, cheerful compering that made everyone feel quite invested in the show.

Lou Conran

It feels like ages since I’ve seen Conran and she’s such a warm person that she seems to be able to just brighten a place up simply through being there. Tonight she bounced off of Stevie’s compering and hit the ground running, winning the audience over within probably the first ten seconds of her set. Her material was down to earth and Conran was excellent at tying this in to individual audience members and this made it feel all the more relevant. The faux names were a lovely touch in this respect. Probably the highlight of her set was Brucie. This didn’t half tickle me. Conran’s performance was great and got the show off to a flying start.

Simon Lomas

There can’t be many better acts on the circuit than Simon Lomas. His writing, performance, pacing and feel for what is possible are all magnificent. He’ll give the room a joke and then there will be a long pause, longer than many acts would dare, whilst the laughter dies down and then he’ll hit them with a sledgehammer of a topper. Lomas is an act whom I admire deeply, not only for his obvious comedy skills, but also for his technical ability.

Eddy Brimson

I’d not seen Brimson before this, but I’ve seen his name on some good bills and so was looking forward to watching him. He’s everything I was hoping for. Good construction, delivery, room work and above all, he is very funny. This was a set with constant laughs and applause coming for multi-tasking. Brimson’s joy at performing on the same bill as his partner was very evident and this added an extra element to much of his material, which made it hit home all the harder. The bird routine was very well thought out. This was a champion night.

The Final Whistle: Jonny Awsum, Clayton Jones, Brian Damage and Krysstal

Tonight I was in Southwell at the Final Whistle for the Funhouse Comedy night. It’s always nice to go to a great gig with a comedy savvy audience. This evening, the star members of the room were Roger the female dog and Dave, whom Mike began to tease before realising that he was the actual owner of this pub as well as a few others. It didn’t take long before the room was warmed up and ready for the show.

Jonny Awsum

Awsum is a cracking act who always leaves the room buzzing after his performance. Tonight it was just as well there was an intermission, as he would have been very difficult to follow without resetting the room first. He began with a song based partly on the location and within seconds Jonny had everyone onboard, singing and clapping along. Dave and the harmonica was an highlight of the evening, as he really got involved in what he was doing and this brought the house down. This was a performance that was impossible for people to not adore and feel buoyed up by.

Clayton Jones

I was looking forward to seeing Jones. I like the way he writes and having not seen him for a while, I was curious to see what new material he’d got. The answer was some very good stuff indeed. He opened with a spot of room work and this got him established pretty quickly, but he didn’t spend too much time on that and was soon into material. The holiday routine was great with lots of little laughs and facial expressions before we hit the big pay off. The material about racism was very intelligent and I felt that on a different night he may well have developed it further. I’d like to see more from Clayton like this, as I think he’s heading in an interesting direction. This was a great set.

Brian Damage and Krysstal

Headlining were Brian and Krysstal. There is plenty to enjoy in their act, especially Krysstal’s facial expressions. She’s superb at being funny from an almost minimalist approach in contrast to Brian’s more overt performance. It was different to see her bubble gum bubble bursting and ending up over her face, something that looked as if it took them both by surprise. They did that well the audience wanted more and they ended up performing two encores, with shouts for a third.

The Admiral Rodney: Andy Roach, David Luck, The Edi Johnston Bit, Mike Carter, Fiona Allen and Fran Jenking (MC)

Tonight I was in Wollaton at the Admiral Rodney for the Funhouse comedy gig. The show was delayed slightly as a wake had overrun, but this didn’t affect the mood at all.

Fran Jenking (MC)

Jenking lives within walking distance of this pub, has a residency, knows the regulars by name and owing to his ability to make such an intimate venue really welcoming, you’d have to go a long way to find someone who would do a better job compering. It’s fun watching Fran at work. He doesn’t put anyone on the spot and he knows when to move on to pastures new, such as with Coral, who was possibly just that bit too talkative. I particularly appreciated his solid cultural knowledge. It could be a band or a telly show from well before he was born, but Fran knows enough about it to work with whatever is said without it feeling jarring. Fran’s compering set the mellow tone for the whole evening.

Andy Roach

You wouldn’t guess that Roach had only started gigging in November. If this is what he looks like after six months, then in a years’ time, he could well be quite formidable. He looks confident on stage and has some nice ideas regarding material. Mental health, alternative names and worst serial killer (possibly a few people guessed where he was going with this) were all very good. Perhaps he should have ended on ice, as that felt like a natural high for him to have closed with. Naturally, with such a new act there were a few things that could have been improved, but there was nothing fundamentally wrong with anything he did. It wouldn’t hurt to tighten up some of the wording on a couple of the jokes so they flow better, getting the audience to applaud the MC is nice, but eats into time where he could be being funny and a joke at the top was a straight forward pull back and reveal involving teachers, which was no way near as creative as the rest of his writing. These are only small matters and I’ll be interested to see how he shapes up.

David Luck

I’ve always enjoyed seeing Luck and he had a great gig tonight, even though it was hard to hear all that he said until Fran swiftly turned the sound up. Luck mixes low energy and one-liners, but both writing and performance are equally powerful, which makes for quite the combination. There was a lot of solid writing in evidence, with jokes that were clever enough to make the audience have to think for a second before getting them. The Royal Mail joke, which was the best gag of the entire night, easily deserved the applause it received. Luck’s performance was spot on. He was stood there, totally still, letting his eyes and facial expressions do all of the emotional work. This formed a strong connection with the audience in this small room and really brought them into what he was doing, almost as co-partners. I thought his look of despair at an audience member was absolutely in keeping with his stage persona. Luck’s odd breaking of the 4th wall was great. This was a very enjoyable performance.

The Edi Johnston Bit

Bringing two ukuleles to the stage, Johnston immediately looked interesting. Johnston is good at working with an audience and is very easy to listen to. There’s also a nice feel good aspect to his set that everyone can tap into. Whilst I felt that his strongest routine was Formby, this was a performance that the whole audience enjoyed.

Mike Carter

Carter is a solid act who deserves to be better known than he is. He’s also one, who whilst he has a great ten, over twenty you seem to get three times as much entertainment, as this gives him more time to develop his performance. Tonight he opened with being a Mike Carter, if not THE Mike Carter, as it turned out an audience member knew someone of the same name. It was nice watching him thinking on his feet before going on to material. It also made me wonder if he’s ever tried compering, as I suspect he’d be pretty good at it. There was some material that was new to me and that was great to see. The Netflix and work routines are both very strong. This was a set with a lot of laughter and applause. I’d have liked to have seen more.

Fiona Allen

Headlining was Allen, who gave a terrific performance. There was a lot of good writing here, mostly discussing her interactions with other people, like her sister, a cleaner, her mum and dad’s relationship and how Allen got on with her husband. However, what impressed me the most was her delivery. It was not only conversational and drew you in, but she painted such vivid mental pictures that you couldn’t help but feel like a fly on the wall as she described scenes and conversations. Allen’s set was delightful and I came away with the impression that she could gig anywhere and win any audience over.

Late Stage Comedy at Bunkers Hill: Peter Buckley Hill, Ian Whitcombe, Denzil de Cristo, Cosmic Kat, Ian Allerston, Tal Davies and Friz Frizzle (MC)

Tonight I was in Nottingham at Bunkers Hill for the Late Stage Comedy night. This is a venue that has great potential. It’s a generously sized room above a city centre pub and with a big audience, it should feel a joy to play. As with many gigs at the moment, the crowd wasn’t huge, but it was great to see both Brent and Cameron Sinclair Harris there supporting the night.

Friz Frizzle (MC)

Frizzle, who was compering at short notice, opened by stating what they don’t do as MC, which got good laughs. This was followed by a couple of short songs and then an act was brought on, which kept it punchy and was a nice change to audience members being asked what they do and where. Friz had read the room well and had realised that the audience weren’t that talkative and so this worked very nicely. On another night, it may feel more like an extra act than compering and whilst it didn’t find much out for the other acts to work with in their sets, it went down a treat with the audience. The songs were of good quality and there was a lot of applause, although whilst Cursed Karaoke was solid, doing it after the night had ended, may have robbed it of some impact and I couldn’t help but wonder if this would have been better on earlier. Friz kept the night on track and was at their strongest when mixing talking to the audience with the musical stuff.

Peter Buckley Hill

Opening was PBH, who had to catch a train back to that there London. His theatrical delivery held the room easily and his clever word play was very enjoyable. He gave the room quite a few good songs that the audience enjoyed and the playing with expectations on the final song was very nice indeed.

Ian Whitcombe

Whitcombe is a new act who specialises in one-liners. His material ranged from decent to impressive and will get stronger with more writing. The wording on a few could be tightened up to improve pacing, with the set up on Gandalf being the biggest example of this. Whitcombe had a good structure and the callbacks were enjoyable, although I think everyone thought he had finished with the thank you on medically prescribed, so it might be worth experimenting with the running order, or changing that slightly. Whitcombe’s delivery isn’t yet fully formed, which after less than 10 gigs is to be expected. Some more meaningful audience interaction or more of a feel of him performing it, as opposed to delivering it, will work wonders. Whitcombe received laughs and has a base from which to build.

Denzil de Cristo

A confident looking de Cristo gave the room a short set of new material. The fish routine has some nice ideas, although the version he tried tonight might be a tiny bit stretched out beyond its natural life. The Luca Brasi reference was very enjoyable, but could be one that not everyone gets. Shortened down to keep the momentum going and to stop the audience from trying to guess the next fish based pun, de Cristo has something here.

Cosmic Kat

CK is an engaging presence and I enjoyed her performance. She seemed to cover a lot of ground in this ten minutes and although Northern Island was the standout routine, there wasn’t anything I disliked about what she did. Lock down was good, the call back to PBH’s set was splendid and if she were to gig more often, then it’s not hard to imagine her going further.

Ian Allerston

Allerston has good diction and is very easy to listen to without missing a single word. His performance was good, too, especially when he leaned into the audience to deliver a line directly to John on the front row. I found his mic technique to be quite engaging – his holding it with both hands gave him a look of prayer. There was plenty of decent material here and his set rolled along nicely. The Pirelli Calendar reference deserved more as it was a great offhand comment, although it might have been lost on anyone under forty. I’d have liked to have seen more of Allerston.

Tal Davies

I was especially looking forward to seeing Davies. She’s a quality act and is obviously progressing very nicely. This was a set that I enjoyed from start to finish. Her physical actions on baby were spot on and this was a routine that was both funny and very logical. The congestion charge was solid and the water feature was a particularly strong line. Although the set up on Ukraine was perhaps a bit wordy, this was still a good routine and the Deliveroo material was simply brilliant. This was an excellent performance.

Acts that have impressed me the most April 2022

I’ve been to some nice gigs this month and it’s always a pleasure to see some new acts, too. Out of the acts that I’ve seen, both Scott Bennett and Barry Dodds are time barred, as they hugely impress me every time I see them and both are already very well known, so it seems fair to give other acts a mention.

The acts that have impressed me the most:

Katie Price

Price is already a strong act and she’s only going to get better. She’ll be a pro act sooner or later and is definitely worth seeing.

From the night:

Price had a great gig. Her delivery and material were consistently strong throughout her set. Her tone was almost self-deprecating and I thought that worked well with her material. Price has an interesting background and I think everyone wanted to hear more about her. It’s a shame that she’s down in that there London, as she’s obviously a very bookable act and one that I can picture going a long way.

Sachin Kumarendran

It’s always a pleasure to see an act who has smart and well written material. This is never going to go out of fashion.

From the night:

This was a splendid set from an act who should go far. His writing is solid, with a lot of intelligence behind it. Kumarendran delivers this slowly, clearly and with a kind of disparaging logic that really sells it. In his style and vocal tones, he didn’t half remind me of Roger Monkhouse and that’s very nice. There’s a definite air of polish to Kumarendran and it’s lovely to see an act improve so much. I shouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t end up working with Radio 4, as I think he’d do well on there.

Honourable Mentions:

Benny Shakes, Jake Donaldson, Joe Zalias, Jon Matthews, Kellii Taylor,

The Juice Bar – Jon Matthews, Alex Camp, Josh Reynolds, Emma Crossland, Simon Hall, Sachin Kumarendran and Tommy Tomski (MC)

Tonight I was in The Juice Bar in Nottingham for the Rock Central gig. This place would make a cracking venue as part of the comedy festival; it’s a small space that easily builds a big atmosphere. One drawback is that there are plenty of little steps there and so you have to watch where you place your feet unless you don’t mind jarring your shoulder slightly.

Tommy Tomski (MC)

This is a great room for Tommy to compere. It’s slightly unusual in the décor and accoutrements and this suits his style down to the ground. It didn’t take long for his personality to fill the space. Whilst the audience wasn’t huge, they were an eclectic bunch, with an American and three PhD students present. Tommy riffed nicely with the cyber psychologist building up a fun Columbo based scenario, he worked well with the guy studying the negative effects of VR and very wisely left the person studying sex offenders alone as a total comedy cul-de-sac. It was nice to see Tommy go from room work to material to get the audience back into listening mode from interactive mode before bringing the acts on. Of his material, toothbrush was a straight pullback and reveal, which got a laugh, but he is a better writer than that and this could be seen with the poached eggs routine, which was both funny and in keeping with his stage persona.

Jon Matthews

Opening the night was Matthews, doing a fifteen spot that covered quite a lot of ground. He began with a few fast jokes and these brought him some early laughs and gave the audience confidence in his ability. I enjoyed the jokes about racism, but they may be a bit too forceful for the odd room. The joke about Derby was decent and could be changed to wherever he’s gigging that particular night. The prop diagrams added a nice element of variety, but in a larger room may be better with a white background as they will be more visible to those sat further away. Matthews could do with editing down his material a bit. The band numbers routine had just a few too many examples in and did stretch the point a little bit – if he were to do a few, then give an odd one and then a foreign example as a topper, this would make it a lot more punchy and keep the momentum flowing better. The same can be said of the memory loss and racism jokes towards the end of the set. There was plenty of intelligent, well thought out material in this set and so it was a shame that Matthews denigrated it at the end by using the word shit, even in an offhand way. Performance-wise, he looked comfortable on stage, it wouldn’t hurt him to hold the mic a bit further away from his mouth, as I felt it both slightly distorted what he said and hid too much of his face, which may hinder him in making a connection with the audience. There was a lot in this performance that I enjoyed and with consistent gigging I can see Matthews being someone I and plenty of others will enjoy seeing on bills.

Alex Camp

Camp’s a musical act, who had the audience clapping and chanting whilst he got himself set up on the stage. He’s also quite high energy and has solid performance skills. I was particularly impressed by him having people shout out Nottingham tram stops and him then singing a few lines about them. I know that this is based on what he does about Manchester trams, but he could alter it for bus routes, train or tube, depending upon where he is and it would go down well every time. On the downside, Covid had too long a set up for the joke, but should be fine if it were shortened and too many jokes came back to knobs and sex, which won’t work in every room and it would have been nice to see a bit more variety.

Josh Reynolds

Reynolds is very easy to listen to and his timing on both unfortunate and rhetorical was great. The material about being qualified as bi was good, as was chess and climbing. This was knowingly gloriously niche in a way that everyone could enjoy it. All too often people use their dad as the person making a comment and sometimes audiences can see it coming, but in fairness, it did lead nicely into a small bit of material on Josh’s dad. This was a good performance.

Emma Crossland

Crossland is low energy and her opening routine with the poem doesn’t really help her in establishing her comedy credentials that quickly. The beret is a great touch, but the rest of this routine is a bit low on laughs and it might suit her better to get a few quick laughs and the audience more invested in her before going into it. The bulk of her set concerns a urine sample and this routine ambles along nicely and received good laughs. It might be a bit risky in a ten spot, though, because given its length, if people haven’t bought into it, then it doesn’t leave much time for her to give them anything else. Having said all of this, the audience enjoyed her and everything went well.

Simon Hall

Hall has plenty of energy, a loud voice and looks as if he’s hosting a rock night somewhere – this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it may not hurt him to relax a little and not look as if he’s trying so hard. That way the audience will be better able to relax into what he’s saying. His material was pretty decent. Rude Boys is a topic no one else seems to be doing, so that was refreshing. His mum’s choice of song was also good. The darker material wasn’t quite as strong, but will get there. In contrast, Marvel was very good. Whilst he’s not quite worked out the ending, one way of going would be to point out that if Thanos had succeeded, he’d have taken the population back to the level of 1970 or thereabouts and this would give him a chance of a callback to some of his earlier material or to go in a different direction.

Sachin Kumarendran

This was a splendid set from an act who should go far. His writing is solid, with a lot of intelligence behind it. Kumarendran delivers this slowly, clearly and with a kind of disparaging logic that really sells it. In his style and vocal tones, he didn’t half remind me of Roger Monkhouse and that’s very nice. There’s a definite air of polish to Kumarendran and it’s lovely to see an act improve so much. I shouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t end up working with Radio 4, as I think he’d do well on there.

The Blessington Carriage: Benny Shakes, Jake Donaldson, Donna Landy, Jacob Hatton, Katie Price and Joe Zalias

Tonight I was in Derby at the Blessington Carriage for the Easter Monday comedy night. I was particularly looking forward to the acts, as many were either unfamiliar to me, or I hadn’t seen for a long time.

Numbers weren’t fantastic due to it being a bank holiday, but this was one of those fun gigs, where everyone had a really nice time. It was great to see Anthony Williams there, as it always pleases me to see people within the comedy industry supporting each other’s nights.

Spiky Mike was as happy as you can imagine a Forest fan would be gigging in Derby on the day that they have been relegated. Something he mentioned within moments of taking to the stage. The audience member of the night was David, a well dressed chap who worked in the Hula Hoop crisps factory and was a roller derby fan. There was a lot of in-depth discussion about various types of crisp, which added flavour to the proceedings.

Benny Shakes

Opening the evening was Benny Shakes, who is on a roll with good gigs. Every time I see him, he’s that bit better than before. This time I noticed he was more confident with the audience work and this added to his stage presence. He kept a good balance between delivering his material and the asides. I liked the look like me line, but considering the context, it might perhaps have been improved by saying ‘walk like me tomorrow morning’. Benny gave the room a good opening performance.

Jake Donaldson

It’s been a long time since I’d seen Donaldson, but what I could remember the most about his material was the intelligent writing and that was just as impressive tonight. Clever writing will never go out of fashion and there was a lot of great stuff in here, in particular, the partially gag. I did think he might perhaps have improved the wording on Sp..1 and Sp..2 by using promoted to instead of got to be, but that’s a minor thing. It’s a cracking comment, either way. I appreciated the callback Donaldson closed on, but it might land a touch better if he disguised it a touch more or possibly reversed it so his partner said it. This was a performance that seemed to be over all too shortly. I’d have liked to have seen more of Donaldson, as I think he’d be even better over 20 than he is 10.

Donna Landy

Landy gave a good performance. Her intonation on panties added a lot to the delivery of that line. The circumcision routine rolled along nicely, but needs a bit more for it to really stand out. Punctuation was good, but to me, her strongest material was the accidentally section – this was really good. I enjoyed watching her perform and I’ll be interested in seeing her develop as a comedian.

Jacob Hatton

It was interesting watching Hatton take to the stage. He carried himself like a well experienced act and his body language showed confidence. He began with some well observed comments about the room before going into material. Oddly, I’ve not heard much on stage about working from home – kids at home yes, but not working from home and so this was very welcome. The section on Scream was well thought out and the life coach routine built up nicely. This was all good stuff, but unfortunately for me, I found his voice quite hard to stay tuned into. It might be an accent thing, or perhaps it was just me, but I did find my attention wandering a few times and that’s a shame, as his material was strong enough that it deserved my full attention. I’d like to see Hatton again.

Katie Price

Price had a great gig. Her delivery and material were consistently strong throughout her set. Her tone was almost self-deprecating and I thought that worked well with her material. Price has an interesting background and I think everyone wanted to hear more about her. It’s a shame that she’s down in that there London, as she’s obviously a very bookable act and one that I can picture going a long way.

Joe Zalias

Zalias looked totally in his element on stage and gave a cracking headlining performance. He’d got loads of energy and finished the night off in fine style. There was lots to like in this set, from kids, being a fireman, birth and the ball bearing – all of these did very well. This was a performance that produced a lot of laughter.

Bolsover Assembly Rooms – Barry Dodds, Kellii Taylor, Scott Bennett and Lindsey Davies (MC)

Tonight I was in Bolsover at the Assembly Rooms for a cracking gig. This is my first one back since my accident and I was lucky to go as part of a group, as I’m not yet back to driving. As always, the atmosphere was good. This is an audience that appreciates comedy and the acts that come here to entertain them. Numbers weren’t quite as high as the last gig and that’s a shame as they missed some brilliant acts. It was nice to see Anthony Williams helping out by looking after the tech side of things. As is often the case, the room had filled from the back and Lindsey got everyone to move forwards. I was a bit surprised that they did, as everyone looked so settled where they were, but she persuaded them and we were soon ready to begin.

Lindsey Davies (MC)

Like a few of the other comedians, Lindsey was effectively doing a double, as her and Dawn Bailey and performed in Loughborough that afternoon, with Gin and Comic, but you wouldn’t have known she’d had a long day from her performance. Although she could only really see the front row, Lindsey made a lot of the people there, from the postie and the debt collector through to the complaints handlers sat on the other side. Her comments about Bolsover becoming a city were good. Prior to the middle section, she gave the audience an extended bit, which went down well. Davies gave the room a good time.

Barry Dodds

Dodds hit the ground running and after seeing him compere so often, it was a nice treat watching him doing a set. He was performing wearing a colourful suit and his comments about resembling an overconfident bus driver were great. This was a performance that was top quality from beginning to end, especially his closing routine, which concerned practical jokes. His section on carrying a bit of weight might need the words ‘used to’ added to it, as he’s now looking in good shape. I really enjoyed seeing Barry.

Kellii Taylor

I’d not seen Taylor before and she has a lot of potential. She performs as a character act, being a less than self-aware gossipy hairdresser and this works well. There were some strong lines in this set, such as impediment, which was especially good. The props were great and unlike some, large enough for the entire audience to see. I know that this is somewhat integral to the presentation of the character, but it wouldn’t hurt Taylor to slow down her delivery a touch, though, as a few of the jokes got lost amongst the sheer number of words spoken. Given the quality of Taylor’s writing, it’s a shame for any of it to get lost in this way. I’d like to see more of her.

Scott Bennett

As always, Bennett was magnificent. Every time I see him, he’s at the very top of his game, but is somehow even better the next time. He’s an incredibly hard worker, but crikey, has he not half got a feel for comedy. Tonight he was racing against the clock, as a few people have to leave the show at half ten to get the last bus home. That didn’t happen, they decided to stay and see him finish the show. One guy got up to nip to the loo, but he was soon back. I enjoyed seeing improved routines, new jokes and the battleship line was fantastic. If Bennett ever moves out of this area, it will be a dark day.

Scott’s going on tour and tickets can be found here: https://www.scottbennettcomedy.co.uk/tour.html

Acts that have impressed me the most February 2022

Owing to work I’ve not seen that much live comedy as I’d like this last month, but these are the acts that have impressed me the most. As always acts that I’d recently seen, or who get mentioned frequently, are time barred so that others get a chance.

Acts that have impressed me the most:

El Baldiniho

Props, puns and magic – what’s not to like? The audience loved this, even the people who were occasionally talking and I doubt they’d seen anything like this performance before. The presidential joke was a lot of fun, even though an audience member guessed at Cliton, instead of Clinton, which may or may not have been an attempt at humour. This was a set where the pacing was nicely varied. There were quite a few quick jokes that built up momentum and then some that were more measured, which built up the atmosphere, ready for a joke to land. The bandanna routine was a real show piece. This performance was a joy from beginning to end and closed the show on a high.

Gary Hyland

Hyland was the 5th act on after four had been voted through and so you can take everything I said about judge psychology and ratchet it up another notch. However, I wasn’t overly concerned for Hyland. I’d seen him before and I liked his chances of winning the show outright. His energy was good, his choice of words was spot on for what he wanted to convey, his material was solid (the nicknames are really easy to get onboard with) and he had that extra bit of polish that made him stand out. In a larger room it wouldn’t have hurt if he’d held the mic up a bit, but in the NBT his voice carried easily. He made the final and although he didn’t win, coming second, I felt he was the most impressive of the acts and is certainly bookable.

Matt Bragg

Bragg was a great booking, opening here and closing in Sheffield. His low energy and measured tones drew attention. However, it was his material and stage craft that maintained it. This is an act who is as great to watch for the how he performed, just as much as for what he was saying. The routine about the trip abroad was excellent, as was the hotel. One of the best aspects of his set was where he went off-piste when a bit of material proved to be relatable enough to start a lady in the audience talking.

Matt to the lady – I am here, this isn’t Trip Advisor live,

Lady – it’s not all about you,

Matt – look at the poster; you’re not on it.

I absolutely loved this exchange and almost punched the air at that last line.

Honourable Mentions:

Alex Maureen, Daniel Lythe,