This was at the Roadhouse in Birmingham. It resembles the living room of a brothel, albeit one located in the middle of a rock concert. The numbers weren’t great and acts outnumbered punters, but the place as a nice feel to it. It feels like a place for comedians, despite the appalling noise coming from the concert next door. Tonight was a new material night and so all comics have been reviewed with this in mind.
Rob Kemp was MC and achieved something almost unique in comedy gigs, in that he got it started on time. This doesn’t often happen, normally thing seem to run 15 minutes late. He more or less worked his way around the room saying hello to people and had a lovely touch with getting one of the acts to pop onto the stage to tell everyone the ground rules This made everyone feel included in the gig, rather than it just being acts and audience. He had a bit of a scattergun approach with material, but this was nice and worked well. He was enjoyable to watch and seemed to inject cheerfulness just by being himself, really.
Tom Christian opened with a surprisingly soft and mild voice. His reverse Tourette’s was very good and just as he was settling, newcomers arrived who messed up his momentum. They then compounded this, by having their phone ring and then linger in answering it. I’d have preferred him to have his new material written on a bit of paper, rather than for him to consult his phone every so often, as again, this was a detriment to his rhythm. His set was new material and some bits hit harder than others, but he received a good response.
Josh Pugh was the second act on, again doing new material. He was one of the people who had attracted me to go down south for this gig. His material was a mixture of one-liners and short routines and it didn’t disappoint. The reverse Susan Boyle was good, Groupon was really good, but the punchball material didn’t seem to go far and the babe station bit perhaps needs more work. However, this was new material being tried out and the hits far outnumbered the misses. I thought he was very impressive.
Third up was Paul Savage. This was very new material, first time spoken material. He has a good presence on stage and is very likeable. The videogame routine was good, but some of the rest of his new material was very much a work in progress. It certainly shows potential and there is the basis of a good set that just requires a spot of honing.
After the first intermission, it was character act Trevor Never. This is a new character, who is a Yorkshireman upset about the lack of provision of space for Crown Green Bowling. Personally, it didn’t appeal to me, but in fairness, everyone else enjoyed it and he received good laughs. He was very convincing in the role and pulled it off in a way that was technically excellent and whilst it wasn’t my cup of tea, there is mileage in it.
We then had a new act, Rich Burley. He had a habit of swinging from side to side, which at first I found a tad irritating, but after a minute, I was lost in the entertainment of his act. I liked his Primark joke and his Peaky Blinders stuff. His slip with using the word playstation instead of police station actually has the makings of a good little sub routine. Some of his local references puzzled me, as an outsider and may not travel well if he gigs further afield. I also thought that whilst his Liam Neeson special skill set impression was nice, it is a tad overused by comics at the moment. With more stage time, he will have a good strong 6-7 minutes with this material.
Dave Tomlinson was doing new material – one liners. It’s not often that new material gets an applause break, but he managed it. The Marianne Faithful joke split the room a tad, with the only people getting it being those of a certain age. The ex-wives running joke was lovely. I was sorry to see him finish when he did, as he was doing extremely well.
Jon Pearson was trying new material that will be in his Edinburgh show. Some of this I saw last week in Nottingham. It is, naturally, still a work in progress. The part about naming kids worked well, the grouting is a banker, but the butchery needs more of a punchline to it. He has a similar stage presence to Paul Savage.
The final section consisted of two acts, Sam Pressdee and Danny Beeks.
Danny Beeks was doing new material based on the events in the news. This gave it a feeling of the now, which was rather nice. He could do with working on his delivery a tad, as he reminded me a touch of a deputy headmaster making an announcement about running in corridors. With a bit more energy he may achieve more with the same routine. However, in fairness, it can’t be easy to deliver comedy when someone is rocking out at volume 11 thirty feet away with just a couple of flimsy doors between you.
Sam Pressdee – on the positive side, she was confident and had a certain amount of charm that took her so far. However, on the negative side – she had no material beyond an anecdote concerning Russell Brand and a squat she was involved in. At first I thought she was running a slow burning set, building up to something, but it never arrived. Looking around the room, people were talking to themselves and fidgeting. This wasn’t really comedy. Her finale was getting her chest out; the point of which I’m still wondering at. I’m not sure if it was feminist empowerment, a treat for the audience or just how she finishes most conversations.