Toju, Jollyboat, Tony Simpson and John Lebbon

FAF Comedy night at the Staindrop in Sheffield. This was a near sell out in a small room with a friendly crowd. Joe Bromhead was MC, which was good, as I’ve heard a lot about him and all positive. I wasn’t disappointed, either. It may be a local gig that he’s compered before, but he had the level of the room from the moment he walked on stage. He set the mood through not making too much of a meal of the who are you and what do you do stuff, but more through how he talked to people, he pitched his warming up at the perfect pitch. He was helped by Stoney on electrics and lights, who through manipulating the lighting system with the music got some energy into the room. The first act was Jolly Boat, who are a good opener. Their Pirate songs are good strong material. Their patter between songs wasn’t as well developed at it could have been, but that isn’t too much of a problem. Their computer love song was a bit of a slow burner, but towards the end was getting good laughs, although not everyone in the room was able to see the visual props due to them being shown to left of stage. I also enjoyed their X Factor parody, but did feel it was a minute too long. Tony Simpson performed an enjoyable set, which was also delivered to the left of stage, with right of stage left out somewhat. His material was workmanlike and whilst it didn’t set the room on fire, it did get consistent laughs and left people more chipper than they were before he went on stage. He did a good show. John Lebbon didn’t have a great night. He was by no means bad, but didn’t seem to get into a rhythm. I think this is because online dating and facebook have been tackled too often by comedians and even people at watercoolers to be fresh. However, his strongest material was about his parents being on facebook, so perhaps if he kept this part of it and rethought the rest and tackled something less well trodden he may do better. The closer was Toju, who has been on Britain’s got Talent and is well known as the militant black guy off of Balls of Steel. He started off as if he were at a rock concert with a lot of ‘yeahs’, which whilst it wasn’t really comedy did set a good atmosphere. He covered a lot of ground, not lingering on any subject too long, with some good mimicry – this was decent material and was getting laughs. However, he then concentrated on working the front row of the audience, which transformed it into a private gig for them, leaving the majority of the room feeling like onlookers at a private party. This didn’t totally lose him the room, he has too much of a stage presence for that, but it did a lot to dampen his work.

Tony Hawks 19/3/15 Glee

19/3/15 An Evening with Tony Hawks at the Glee Club Nottingham. This was the opening night of a tour. There were a few minor stutters as you’d expect on a first performance, but in a way, these were very endearing and added to the night. It was an eclectic night and stayed very fresh with time passing all too swiftly. The correspondence received from not so astute fans of the skater Tony Hawk was very good. The chat about various mad bets was very different and worked well. Hawks is a talented singer/musician and has an ability to do accents that made the various characters he spoke of come to life. This was an all round evening of entertainment and very enjoyable.

Funhouse Comedy Southwell 12/3/15

12/3/15 Funhouse Comedy in Southwell: I wasn’t expecting to be here, as I was up for going to Melton for a night, but as I’d only seen Big JP and PD last week, I went here. Compere was Spikey Mike, who is competent and knows when to finish chatting to people and let the acts on, unlike some comperes (Johnny Vegas, yes I’m looking at you). First act was Mike Bubbins, who was very good, with a wide range of material covering a lot of ground quickly. He didn’t… spend 10 minutes on one area and so it seemed to move fast. He has a strong Welsh accent which I found challenging, but it isn’t any real impediment in playing the North. He kept the room in his grip. After the intermission, it was two ten spots. Sunil Patel with a smooth and well practiced set that was well thought out and worked well. Jon Wagstaffe followed. He is a high energy act, who would make a good opener to get the room going. He is very, very fast with his material and delivery and in those 10 minutes, probably did 20 minutes of material for most comics. However, he does suffer a drawback in adding volume and speed to his routine for a greater impact. I think 20 minutes of being shouted at may be a bit much for a few people. The closer was Joe Lycett who reminded me of a young Frankie Howerd, both in style and also very much in ability. He totally smashed the gig. Within 30 seconds of saying hello, he had the room with him and was getting big laughs for everything. Nothing fell flat, even the improv with a chap nipping to the loo. I’m not sure how he’d play in a Miners’ Welfare, as I feel the crowd may not give him a chance to shine, but tonight he had a triumph.

NCF 11/3/15

11/3/15 NCF £1 new talent/new material night. This is one of my favourite shows and in some respects, beats seeing big names in an arena. Tonight wasn’t the best I’ve seen it, although it was nice to see it sell out again. There wasn’t a lot of energy in the room, which may be down to the compere, as although he was competent, he was quite laconic in style. Josh Pugh was first act and delivered puns, but unfortunately the set up was a bit too long for the actua…l pun delivered – this will improve with experience. Matt Hollins was trying new material, but a lot of it didn’t seem to work out and that is part and parcel of a new material night. The next chap was Owen Morris who did a clever set, which should have gotten a bigger response than it did, but which the somewhat flat atmosphere is to blame for. A newcomer was next, a girl called Maz. She spoke about a lot of personal biographical stuff very quickly and at times it felt like a self-help group. Stu Woodings closed the middle section and he was more confident and polished than many. He had a good routine that hung together well and again didn’t seem to get the laughs it deserved. Dave Bryan opened the final section. He’s a Cockney with a good delivery, but needs more original material. Jokes about premature ejaculation being touch and go have been old hat for a while, same as being caught peeing in a swimming pool – whilst on the diving board (most famously used in Only Fools and Horses). Pete Phillipson closed and is a very talented mimic, which helped his act. He also ended on a good strong joke. The most interesting act to me, though, was the penultimate one – Jack Boyles. I’ve seen him three times and will admit the first two times he didn’t make a huge impression. However, tonight he was doing some new material which worked extremely well and he was getting laughs, which started out small, then became bigger and he was building up a head of steam. However, he then received an unwarranted heckle, which spoilt his momentum and which I hope he doesn’t take to heart. I thought him much improved, but I would ask whether his extremely downbeat/depressing persona is hurting his comedy, rather than helping it.

Golden Fleece 3/3/15

3/3/15 Comedy night at the Golden Fleece. This was a free night, so mostly people getting experience or trying new material. Jack Boyles opened, which may not have been the best idea. His style is very downbeat and as an opener this isn’t ideal. He did a pastiche of Michael McIntyre, which whilst very recognisable, wasn’t especially funny. However, it is all a learning curve. The next act was Ben Davis, who was similar in style to Boyles and ideally there would have been another com…ic separating them, as it did feel a bit like more of the same. He got some good laughs with his material, but didn’t build momentum. Perhaps if the running order had been different, he’d have had a better night. The 3rd comedian was Fran Jenking, who was a marked contrast. He was full of energy and confidence. He worked with the crowd and had a good stage presence. He’d make an excellent compere as he goes well beyond asking people what their name is and what they do. His Dear Deirdre bit does need a stronger end, but that is the thing with new material, you have to try it to find out. Incidentally, we could do with a moratorium on comedians saying ‘I’ll tell you a bit about myself’ as the first 3 did this. The man after the intermission was a comedy musical act, Jonathan Eve. He was capable and did add to the night, but would have perhaps been better doing a song between each comic, as I felt he sang in one key with a similar tune, just changing the words. However, he did go down well and I’m not a fan of musical acts, so this may be unjust. 5th was Patrick Draper, doing some new material, which went down extremely well. He has a chart which is a real laugh, but could perhaps be bigger so more people can see it. The joy is trebled by the sheer detail. He had a good night. Closing was Jon Pearson who I’ve seen a few times and have always enjoyed. He’s got confidence and presence and is talented. I think it safe to say that by common agreement he had a belter of a night. The venue itself needs a bit of work, though. There were too many people walking about and letting doors bang, as well as people talking and this didn’t help the acts. At times it must have felt like they were swimming against the ride.

FAF 26/2/15

26/2/15 FAF: Had a great time tonight at FAF Promotions’ night at Field Mill. Compering was Jim Bayes, who was competent, if not spectacular, but got better as the night went on. I’d be interested in seeing him do a routine, rather than work with a cold crowd. The first act was Tom Taylor, who is a musical act, not a genre of which I’m a fan to be honest. His stage persona is hesitant and faux borderline incompetent, which I felt got in the way of his set. His musical comedy was good, but… perhaps let down by how he set it. He got laughs for messing with the microphone and doing nervous giggles, but he got far better laughs for doing the songs. The next 3 acts, were all people getting stage time. Jared Shooter who I’ve seen before, who has impressed me before and who impressed me again. He had a few erms between bits, but at this stage that’s expected. He went down well and was nice to see. Davey Liddle, with heavy cold was up next. He was very polished, with just one slip in a set that hung together well. Roland Gent was the 3rd of the trio of new acts. He has the pave of a guy running a meat auction, good gags, short stories and was perfect for the environment. The closer was Daliso Chaponda, a comic who has done work on Radio 4 and I can conceivably see on Live at the Apollo and soon. He totally smashed the room. He was an extremely strong closer and would be a great support for someone such as Russell Howard when he is next on tour.

John Shuttleworth 24/2/15

24/2/15 I’ve been to the wilds of Sheffield to see John Shuttleworth in the Crucible tonight. The right night, too. This was a hometown gig, with all the advantages and disadvantages that ensue. It was packed out, had a great atmosphere and everyone was behind JS to a man. On the other hand, it was full of local references impenetrable to an outsider, even one from 45 minutes down the road. I’m not really a fan of musical comedy, finding that you have to pay more attention than just following a gag. However, his ditties are short enough to bypass this and are very catchy – Family in Rotherham, especially. The real joy is in the whimsical references and in this he does well. I also only got lost twice.

15/2/15 Jon Pearson

15/2/15 Review of Jon Pearson one man hour long show in Melton. Although the photo doesn’t show it, as it was taken early, this was a sell out show. 350 or so people in the Melton theatre, a lovely venue. It was a show that included new material in the first half and current material in the last half. This show was in front of a home town crowd, which helped create a good atmosphere, but wasn’t crucial to the success of the night. This was down to Pearson himself. He looks at home, w…ith a microphone in hand, in front of a crowd. He’s got both confidence and presence and can entertain. The material itself was good. The second half was smooth and worked well, but even the new material that was being tested was above par. There were the odd bits in the first part that didn’t go as well as other bits, but which were in themselves, still good. A decent show and one worth travelling to see.

9/2/15 Andrew Lawrence in Leicester

This was an interesting gig. There has been a lot of publicity surrounding this comic recently and this was the first time I’ve seen him since then, although it is the 3rd time I’ve seen him in total. The show was a total sell out, with the Cookie Club being packed out. The comedy itself was good, with some wonderful monologues, that leave you wondering how he doesn’t have to pause for breath and that leave him with a round of applause. This was… a total new show, with new material and was a good night.