NCF Comedy night at Ye Olde Spa Inn in Derby. This is a small intimate venue, best suited to comedians who like to work with the room. Numbers were low, but I think it is the first gig there, so this will improve. The compere was Chris Norton Walker. I don’t generally review comperes, as you don’t get a true feel for their ability or talent. However, I’m going to make an exception, for an exceptional compere. Chris Norton Walker is the hardest working compere I have seen. He never missed an opportunity to inject atmosphere into the room, bringing everyone into the mix. He was very sharp with his comments, knowing the fine line between chatting to someone and the comedic time to move on. Without his efforts and natural charisma, it would have been a very different gig.
Opening was Aaron Twitchen who began by doing material, but he had enough stagecraft to sense that this was a more intimate gig and he swiftly changed tack and worked the room. He had some very nice touches and whilst he didn’t have anything like a bad night, I feel that he has a better night in him under different circumstances – I’m certainly interested in seeing him deliver his material as I felt he had something to say.
Robyn Perkins, an American comic was 2nd on the bill. Unlike many Americans, she didn’t spend her time doing a routine about being American and living in Britain, which was a nice change. She started off slowly, but had some lovely material about sexual mathematics that worked really well.
After the first intermission it was Matt Hollins. He had a better time than the last gig I saw him at, where he was trying new material, as this was more established stuff. However, I find him to be very hit and miss. Some of his stuff lands, but due to his low key approach, he doesn’t have the momentum to cover the misses easily.
Wayne Beese was, like Twitchen, a comic who could feel the mood of the room and swiftly jettisoned his prepared material and improvised with the room. He had a good dexterity and sense of the possible in what to say, to whom and when to move on. He kept control of a room that could be described as lively.
Ian Hall opened on a song, which I didn’t find that convincing an opening, but it did lead into some good material based on Ian’s through the ages. This worked fairly well with the visual aids and I think there is mileage in expanding it. I, personally, wasn’t too sure about the Elvis material, but enough people were laughing that in fairness it can’t be reviewed badly.
Paul Savage closed. He was very skilled at moving smoothly from material to room work and then back again. He had some good material that I felt went down very well and looked comfortable on stage. He reminded me a bit of big Jon Pearson in looking at home on the stage, ready for whatever the night could throw at him.
Fran Jenkins was unavoidably absent, which was a shame as I was interested in seeing him perform.