Geoff Norcott, Harriet Dyer, Scott Walker, Jared Shooter and Barry Dodds (MC)

Tonight was a mix of Edinburgh Preview and general comedy night at The Lescar in Sheffield. I’m grateful to Jared Shooter for tipping me off about this night, as it was a good one. It was held in the back room of the Lescar Hotel, easy to find, a swine to park. It was a well organised night. The room itself, had a really high ceiling, tables at the front, sofas down one side and rows of seats towards the back. The bar was closed, which is usually a bonus, however, this did mean that people just left the room to order drinks, as this was definitely a crowd that liked a drink. Not in a rowdy way, just in a way that meant there were tables full of empties and towards the end, three people at a time were getting up for the loo. I wasn’t too sure what to expect, as the website advertised Geoff Norcott ‘plus more’ and it would have been a bigger attraction if I’d known who the ‘more’ were.
 
Barry Dodds was MC. He had a bit of an unlucky start, when just after he had said hello one chap carrying a tray of drinks managed to drop 3 pints. Naturally, he worked this for laughs and was well rewarded with them. He didn’t spend too much time on stage, but instead timed it well. Some MCs appear, then in the blink of an eye, they are introducing an act. Instead, Barry spent long enough getting the room warm, but not that long that he ran the risk of becoming a fixture. I was impressed with the quality of his compering and how easily he seemed to get laughs from the crowd. I also liked how he did the square thing for Jared in getting the front row filled up to aid his video recording of the gig.
 
Jared Shooter opened. He was filming his set for his entry to the BBC New Act Competition. As is the law with filming, things immediately went pear shaped when one chap on the front got up and legged it out of the room in the manner of someone who’s dinner is about to make a reappearance. Jared got good laughs by just by peering round the corner in the direction of the loo, until this chap popped back announcing he had a nosebleed. Although this got laughs, it did prove a false start. Jared has a good set, but one which involves a certain amount of audience interaction, which as first act wasn’t as forthcoming as it might have been. His screwfix line was, as ever, a banker and he did well with a far better closing than he’s previously had, but one which requires a touch of polish.
 
Scott Walker of the firm handshake was on second. He has a good presence, a confident delivery and good pacing. His material is decent, but he needs a killer line. I think with his competence in delivery a banker of a line to win the audience over will stand him in good stead and he could really rock a few venues. I enjoyed his set and his ad-lib to the nosebleed fellow was really nice.
 
After the first intermission it was Harriet Dyer. She was a bit of a change of pace to the preceding acts. She started off with a bit of a observational gag, which got a nice response, as a bit of silliness is entertaining. She got a decent response to the looking surprised reveal and a bigger one to the second igloo reveal. Her set was entertaining, but she did split the room a bit with her delivery. She never stays still, but rather than bounding from one side of the stage to the next, she appeared to be exercising and stretching on the spot. Along with the asides and throwaway comments, this gave her something of an unusual style, one which I found endearing, but which I think may have alienated some of the room. I’d estimate that the room was 60-40 in her favour after two minutes, but she did win a lot of the room round, so it probably ended up 80-20, with the 80% really enjoying her style.
 
After the second intermission it was the main event. It was Geoff Norcott with his preview of the The Book Of Moron. The night started at 2030 and he went on with an hour long preview at 2200, after 3 other acts and some good compering. I don’t think this was ideal. The hour was really good, but a lot of people had had a lot to drink and throughout his set people were constantly getting up to use the loo and also it was perhaps asking a lot for people to sit still for an hour at that time of night. It’s a tribute to his ability that he did as well as he did. He began by dealing with a couple who were talking, by heckling them in character. He’s really good at characterisation, bringing people to life in a way that is a positive bonus to his set. The Errol Flynn section seemed a bit convoluted and didn’t deliver as much as the set up promised, but the rest of the hour was thoroughly enjoyable. He had a fluency with his set that really sold the material and made it a good hour.
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