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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.