Tonight was Funhouse Comedy Clubs- East Midlands Gong Show at All bar One in Derby. This is an open air venue, with a bit of a roof and heaters, with enough folliage to make it quite pleasant. The stage is bigger than some venues I’ve been in and has plenty of room. There was a nice crowd, quite sizable and it wasn’t packed out by any entrant having bussed in everyone they knew. The format was 2 minutes or so guaranteed time and then the rest was subject to a vote by 5 members of the audience. Tonight there were a number of interesting acts (Davey Rivers for one), some with potential, but no one with the immediate quality of Rivka Uttley who I’ve seen stand out at a gong show before. The acts have been reviewed with the fact it was a gong show in mind. Compere was Spiky Mike
Andy Baines had a confident start, drawing good verbal pictures. He was happy to reference the room and work with the audience, which was nice, but his school loo routine was a long build up for a low powered reveal.
Ashley Gibson was an act I was interested in seeing. He opened and possibly suffered a bit from the running order, as he seemed to struggle to gain the room. He did one liners, but some of these, like the joke about a hole and people are looking into it are a bit old. Perhaps if he had come at it with tons of energy, he may have gotten better results. He was confident on stage and perhaps if he tried a different approach, such as prop comedy, he may find his comedy voice.
Aston Gallagher had his first ever gig. He got some nice applause for his ebola material, but perhaps didn’t need to spend time explaining what Skegness was like. The material about sponsoring a dog who can speak is a well travelled path and he did run out of steam before the end, but to his credit, he carried on and got laughs from that.
Callum Tingham wasted a bit of time explaining Tinder, as most non-users know the score with it. His material was a touch weak, but as it is a gong show, this is not unexpected. To counter balance this, he did have a nice delivery.
Chris Stiles delivered a monologue, but had improved since I last saw him. It wasn’t a bad routine, although it was low on jokes, the entertainment was in the journey to the reveal. He would benefit from more audience interaction, not that he need banter with everyone, but more an acknowledgement of other people being in the room. I think he would get a good response from that and all it would take is perhaps a few nods, winks, ‘that guy knows’ sort of thing. The material about the clairvoyant was the stand out part.
Danny Clives was an interesting comic. He had a slow start and seemed to be underpowered. I didn’t enjoy his set for the first 4 and a half mnutes of the 5. However, this is no reflection on him, as 25 other people in the room did enjoy it. He got better the longer he was on and got decent laughs for his material. I’d like to see him again, as he did grow on me towards the end and like I say, although he didn’t impress me from the off, he did almost everyone else.
Davey Rivers was one of the stand out acts of the night. He made a good start and had some very good room work. He was confident and seemed a bit of a cut above the rest of the entrants in style, confidence and maturity as an act. He got good laughs from good material, but what impressed me most was his pacing. He had this exactly right. I thought he was a real contender for winning, but it din’t happen for him tonight.
Erika Benning was enjoyable to watch. She had nice material that was well put together and offered a change in pace to the previous comics up. She was confident and this showed in her ability to banter with the room and throwing out some nice ad libs. She had a habit of calling the audience ‘team’ which was really endearing and made it feel quite inclusive. She narrowly won.
Harry Sanders was a nice act to watch he made a slow start, but did well with where he placed emphasis on words. He didn’t have to shout or swear for emphasis, he just used the way he would stress various syllables of a word. He had some wonderful material about cannibals hunting, but his section on toasties didn’t really seem to go anywhere. He was another act who got stronger the longer he was on. He came second after a narrow series of votes.
Liam Webber had an enjoyable routine with a different style to the other entrants. He wasn’t quite surreal, but one could imagine him floating off on a tangent. He seemed to be inhabited by four different characters at a time, with his hands making two more. I was quite surprised when he didn’t make the final cut.
Niall O’Sullivan had a reasonable delivery and his material was better than some, but not a lot of it landed heavily. He seemed to get less back from the audience than a lot of acts that weren’t as proficient as him. Possibly this was due to the fact that he is Irish and was doing material about Catholicism and since Dave Allen, every comedian from Ireland has done something on this.
Rob Stevenson is one of those chaps with bags of charisma and tonight this carried him a lot further than his material warranted. He had a nice line in banter and wasn’t afraid of engaging the room, but ultimately his lack of material told in the end. He has a good stage presence and if he can get some material and weld that to his charisma and touch with banter, he could achieve a hell of a lot more.
Sean Hollywood seemed confident enough and had some decent material about Harry Potter and some nice short stories, but his routine about a taxi and an ambulance seemed to peter out.