NCF Comedy night at the Olde Spa in Derby – this had more people than last time, but owing to the size of the room, it may be in danger of outgrowing the venue. I like the room, as it has an intimate feel, but I’m not too sure of the venue. One of the barmaids walked in and did a glass collection part way through a set, which is something you don’t normally get at experienced venues. In fact, it took the compere, Patrick Draper, Comedian by surprise, as he was stood next to the door and would have stopped her if he had known. This was a good gig, but all of the reviews of individual comics have to take into account a table that was extremely disruptive. They weren’t nasty or obnoxious, but just persistently shouted out and talked amongst themselves. Another note, is that I wish comedians wouldn’t say they’re going to tell us a bit about themselves, as 3, maybe 4 of the chaps performing tonight used that phrase and it would add to the variety if a few others were used.
Patrick Draper – MC – he had his work cut out tonight with the disruptive table. Before he’d even begun the ground rules, he was being heckled and having this table join in. He worked hard, he put down the worst of the hecklers about 7 times, but this guy wouldn’t take the hint. Draper was wise enough not to get too aggressive with this element and it is largely thanks to his work that the night succeeded. I’ve seen a lot of comperes and I think almost everyone, even Chris Norton-Walker, would have struggled to do any better.
First up was Dave Pollard who had a nice line in blue jokes. Some of his material fell a touch flat, but some did pretty well. I think he was a victim of going on too early. His material was probably too blue for opening with. I’ve seen the talented Bethany Black not get as strong a response as she should under the same circumstances.
Thomas Rackham concluded the first part. He has a nice charm, with a good set. Some of his reveals were foreseeable, but no less funny for this. I enjoyed his set and suspect he didn’t do as well as he might due to the bad mannered table. Their shout outs robbed him of momentum.
Stu Woodings was one of the acts I was especially interested in seeing. I’ve seen him before, where he delivered an above average set on a below average night, so wanted to see what he could do on a better night. This night wasn’t better, due to the awkward table, but Woodings was still good to watch. His Frozen reference fell a bit flat and he may need to update his comic relief routine to whichever charity is doing the rounds and I think his ants nest gag needs a bit more work, but these are minor details and more constructive than destructive. I liked how he did a few ad-libs to ‘the table’ and got away without a big discussion with them. I particularly enjoyed the Paint it matt song, this was really good. His keyboard gag was also good and I felt deserved more reaction than he got.
Phil Pagett had a good night. He’s a one liner expert with some lovely reveals. His style played well in the room and was very entertaining. His quick fire delivery matched the attention span of the pain in the arse table, but everyone enjoyed his work.
The headline act was Pete Otway. He has a good presence in the room and a fast paced delivery and lots of audience interaction. I’m not sure I’d like to see him open a gig, as often an audience won’t respond to anything at first, but going on later works really well with his style. His weigh gain/loss stuff is very good, but his closing part about the Australian copper was a tad predictable. He did well, but yet again, the noisy table did rob him of momentum.
To me, the most impressive of the comedians was Graham Milton. He is similar in style to Andrew Lawrence with lots of clever routines and unexpected reveals. He’d start a gag leading in one direction, but then take you somewhere else and with good results. He only did a 10 spot, but I have confirmed that he has 20 minutes of material and this is something that I’d like to see. He held the room, including the painful table, in his grasp.