Scott Bennett, Jeanette Bird-Bradley, Patrick Morris, Jon Pearson, Chris Stiles, Carl Jones, Patrick Casey, Jisnu Soni and Jo D’arcy (MC)

NCF £1 new material / new acts night at Canal House tonight. This is my favourite gig, as it has a lovely vibe and whilst there are nights with more established acts, this offers a wonderful chance for acts to try new stuff and for new acts to gain stage time. It was a smaller crowd than usual tonight, but a well behaved one, if mute to begin with.

MC was Jo D’Arcy​, who is delightful, having a big personality that fills the room. She avoided the pitfalls of many MCs by not taking a census of the audience and instead picked on people at random. Her opening victim was on the back row, which was a very shrewd choice, as it ensured that everyone perked up, as obviously there was no hiding place. She did well to perk up a crowd whose default position was mute and really added to the evening.

Opening was Jisnu Soni, who didn’t seem to make much of an impression on the room. He got a good laugh for his routine about meals, but could have done better if he had perhaps engaged the room a bit more.

Patrick Casey made a strong start and impressed me with a fair bit of very current material from recent news. This definitely made his routine relevant and up to date and this also helped grab the audience. He wasn’t helped by a late arriving audience member walking right in front of him, but he did get laughs from it. His delivery is possibly a touch fast, but this is an extremely minor quibble. The police texting material was very strong and he wasn’t afraid of talking to the audience. He would have made a nice opener.

Carl Jones was doing new material. I’ve seen him before and liked what I saw. He has a nice style and of his new material, the now and then sexting stuff has potential, however the 50 year olds kissing seemed a big build for a small payoff. However, this is the night to try stuff like that out. His discussion about his dad texting in fullstops was good, but he may consider changing the celeb to Stephen Hawking, as although he is overused he does seem to fit the joke better. He was very enjoyable and I look forwards to seeing the final result of his work.

Chris Stiles had a really good night. I’ve seen him four times and this was by far his best night yet. He opened with some established material, but got a better result than previously with it. The Clairvoyant material is good and went down well. The pilot from Barnsley worked extremely well and the down to earthness of him sounding like someone’s dad was a joy. He had a bigger presence that previously, as he made more eye contact with the room and the room responded to this. His pacing had improved, too and I feel he has made a definite step forwards.

Jon Pearson​ was trying new material, too. This was a work in progress, but shows a lot of potential and I’ve got a lot of confidence in his ability to make the most out of it. The Polish reference fell a bit flat, but that is easily reworked. Sexy cats got a nice reception, as did his material about his friend. The bathroom renovation part was extremely good. He has no trouble holding a room at all.

Patrick Morris was also doing new material. He got a lot of good laughs for his hip hop section and his fast paced delivery worked well. He had a good night.

Jeanette Bird-Bradley was doing her second performance and delivered it with confidence. If she is going to play to bigger venues, she will need to consider enlarging her artwork, as it will be harder for people to see it and she should also consider showing it to the left of the stage, centre, then the right, as when she held it up, it was difficult to see from where I was sat. She got laughs, but not a lot of her material landed heavily. She may do better to build momentum if she were to edit her set down a touch and pick up the pace.

Scott Bennett​ was doing new material, too. Bennett and Pearson on the same bill! Two rising acts with bags of talent. Bennett has a lot of stage craft, he’s very aware of the value of a pause, of a look to the audience as the reveal unfolds and when to banter and when to return to material. That is excellent. Of the new stuff, karate worked well, the collander check back was great and the poems wonderful. He’s a good comic and once he’s finished honing this material he will have something as strong as his Toby Carvery set, which I think everyone enjoys.

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