The Green Room at Welwyn Garden City – a nice soft friendly room with a lot of potential, although there was a bit too much heckling for my taste. Not nasty heckling, but surplus to requirements, non-the-less. They would benefit from closing the bar whilst the acts are on, as it spoils the moment when you hear the barmaid ask for £8.55. Compere was Jonathan Prince who is a very likable and charismatic chap, but who still has a bit to learn about compering. He did a short warm up set and didn’t cover the basics, such as heckle me, but no one else and turn your phones off.
Opening were That Pair, a double act. They worked well together, being nicely choreographed and were a good choice to open with. Some of their banter seemed a touch forced and I wasn’t too sure about the musical numbers, but they were well received.
Next up was Stew “stoney ” Coleman who I have seen before a while ago. He has improved a lot since then in his delivery. This has occurred through both gaining more experience and also through doing his set in a deadpan style. Although it is more cracked deadpan, than strict deadpan, because he broke the mould and smiled a few times. Every time this occurred he got a great laugh and there is a lot of mileage in this. I was also impressed with him having a couple of running gags involving ‘this half of the room’ and ticks and crosses. He had a good night and was a joy to watch.
Tom Mayhew closed the first half. He has a self-deprecating style and had some nice one liners and some good ad-libs. His strongest material, for me, involved buses. He did spend too long with a heckler when he may have been better off carrying on with his set, but he did show maturity in not being thrown by this. He would benefit from not standing side on and favouring one side of the audience over the other.
Michael Dryburgh had an amiable and enjoyable set with some reliable bankers including his ex-girlfriend and a wonderful ad-lib about Steve. His set was solid with lots of referencing earlier material, which works well. With the combination of good material and a convincing delivery he does well.
Alasdair Beckett-King had a fantastic night. He was doing new material, but I’m damned if I could spot the experimental stuff. To me it looked like a mature well honed set. He began with a routine about John the Baptist and took us through an intelligent, polished, well joined up set with a belter of a closing. He didn’t put a foot wrong and left me wondering why he’s not better known. A real highlight.
Closing was Ivor Dembina. He was probably not the best act to close, as he is very low energy. He had some nice touches with a joke about Origami and did put a heckler down quite effectively, but then inexplicably returned to them. A lot of his routines had a long build up, but then petered out. He might have benefitted from a shorter set with more focus.