Patrick Draper, Roger Swift, David Tsonos, David Alfie Ward, Alexander Bennett and Mark Restuccia

Funhouse Comedy Clubs- East Midlands up and coming acts night at the Blessington Carriage in Derby. This is nicely located, with a cheap and secure car park just across the road. The room isn’t ideal for comedy, being narrow, which doesn’t favour the prop and visual comics, but it is also intimate. The venue could do with a bit of work, as the lights would flicker and the radiator next to me had an irritating hiss. Compere was Spiky Mike

Opening was Mark Restuccia, who had a good opening line, but whose animal material didn’t quite hit the mark. He had a nice line about a blind cat, but I’d question the inclusion of a joke that requires an explanation for half of the audience. His strongest material involved a housemate. The first reveal to his closing part of the Blackpool story wasn’t hard to guess, but the real joy was in the second reveal, which I felt he could have made much more of.

Alexander Bennett had a very good night. He opened well with a lively opening involving new laws and a lot of crowd work. His material was clever, well put together and enjoyable to see. He is someone to watch out for in the future.

David Alfie Ward was an interesting act. I’m not sure if he set the mood of the room for banter, or just got the mood of the room from the off, as it could have been either. He opened with some ad-libs and local references (I enjoyed the McLaren Weatherspoons one very much) and then more or less bantered successfully for the next 5 minutes or so. This was pretty decent and if he ever MC’s would raise him above the general, what’s your name, where are you from and what do you do there. His break into material wasn’t as smooth as it could have been, feeling a bit mechanical and one of his jokes fell a bit flat, but in a different room could have worked better. For a small room, he was quite loud and could have achieved a better delivery of the material side of his set just through speaking more quietly.

David Tsonos is a Canadian comic performing over here, to their loss and to our benefit. He began with working the room a bit, doing some ad-libs and check backs to things revealed during SM’s compering and it was hard to spot when he actually started doing material as there was no obvious flick of a switch. His performance was very much of the present with lots of audience interaction and everyone felt included in his set. He achieved a good balance between banter and material without putting a foot wrong. He also had the bad luck of asking a chap why he was taking notes, only to find it was a comedy reviewer. However, this far from put him off his stride and he even got material from it. This is a comedian who I would like to see more of.

Roger Swift, a prop comic, closed the second section. He has lots of knowingly awful gags that are delivered at great speed and with enough panache to get a good result. He did split the room a bit, with some people possibly thinking it was a bit silly, but the majority enjoyed the silliness. In a larger room, going on later he’d do well. I’m not sure there is 20 minutes in it, as the pace is frenetic, but for 10, it is good. I particularly enjoyed the cock running gag.

Headlining was Patrick Draper, a good reliable local act who I’ve seen a lot of. One of the benefits of paths often crossing is that you get a chance to see material evolve, get reworked and also you get to see an artist progress in skill. Draper’s delivery is improving every I see him and he has some cracking material to deliver. The number of reveals on his rejection letter is good and this went down a treat. The applause break for his flat mate material, which had a check back to the rejection letter was well deserved, as was the laughter that greeted the wall charts. A true joy to watch.


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