End of the Month Recommendations from Nott’s Comedy Review

This is a copy of the email I have sent out to various bookers, promoters, clubs and agents with my recommendations on.

Greetings,

this month I have seen 38 acts, including 6 Edinburgh Previews. I am not recommending any of the comedians from the previews, as they are either well known already, or are people I have already recommended. Similarly I shan’t be recommending any comic I have previously mentioned in the preceding few months.

The full site is to be found here:

https://nottscomedyreview.wordpress.com/

However, these are the three that stood out as being those I could most recommend.

David Tsonos

He performed in (Jongleurs Nottingham) to around 45 people, including 2 rather obnoxious stag parties, sat right at the front. This was the second time I’d seen him and I was really pleased to see his name on the bill. He’s fits the chap in a suit with a microphone stereotype, but he’s very perceptive and seems to be able to sense how to play a room. His material is sound, his delivery is superb and although he lets people know he is Canadian, being foreign isn’t the whole of his act, it is merely incidental.

This was my review from the night:

The first act was the talented David Tsonos. He pretty much instantly had the room weighed up and decided to deal with the stag parties head on. In what could have been a high risk move, he informed the two groups that he could take anything they had and beat them at it. With a comedian of less authority, this could well have opened a can of worms if twenty people had started shouting out, but with Tsonos, this approach was a real winner. It gave him chance to work in some material about divorce and cats. Tsonos has a nice style, where he will banter with a room and then reference his material to the room. This makes it feel relevant and of the now and is, frankly, a nice touch. He didn’t get out as much material as he would have done on a different night, but instead he bantered with the room, getting good strong laughs and controlling events nicely. It was a joy to see him again.

Adam Rowe

Rowe is a comedian I’ve seen twice and although I enjoyed the first occasion, he seemed to do what a lot of Liverpudlian comedians do and that was spend a lot of time referencing Liverpool. This wasn’t bad, but it is just something that a lot of comics from that area seem to do and it didn’t help him stand out. However, his second performance demonstrated a use of more wide ranging material, which to me lifted him above this and showed a lot of ability.

The review of the night:

The first act was Adam Rowe. I’ve seen him before and enjoyed his work. Tonight he was trying some new material out and on the basis of what I saw, it all flowed very nicely. His cockeyed couple opening worked well, as did WD40 and there was a great double reveal to the dick size routine. His story about being mugged earned him an applause break, which was no surprise. The audience were thoroughly entertained. He has a one man show coming up later in the year in Liverpool and that is worth seeing.

Graham Milton

He is another comedian I’ve seen a couple of times. He isn’t a depressive comedian who tells the audience how terrible his life is, so much as one that is world weary and is quite looking forwards to getting a rest from it all. The first gig I saw him at had a table full of drunks who loused up everyone’s night. He was one of the few acts that they didn’t misbehave for. He holds a room nicely and has a good sense of timing. He’s a comedian that is very much on my radar.

The review of the night:

The ever entertaining Graham Milton opened play after the first interval. He was robbed of the momentum generated by his opening material by four late comers, but this wasn’t a serious impediment. He delivered good material from a set that hung together very well. He reminds me of Andrew Lawrence, but without the bitterness. The room enjoyed his set and it was fun to watch him alternately use material and banter with the room.

Other comedians that have impressed me:

Freddy Quinne (MC)

I’ve seen Quinne twice this month and it was as MC that he gave the better performance. He made banter seem almost effortless and was very swift on his feet with the responses he got back from the audience. He did a bit of asking people what they did, but it never came close to conducting a census of the room. It was more a chance for him to find a couple of foils in the audience that he referenced for the remainder of the night, which made it feel very inclusive and as if he was interested in people, rather than trying to remember which motorway junctions would be closed on the way home.

Simon Wozniak

His performance is rather unique in the respect that he didn’t impress me and although I’d rather mention someone who I personally enjoyed, he impressed everyone else in the room. He has a fast and vitriolic delivery, telling the room exactly what he thinks of people who put videos of their kids singing on facebook and meal deals that don’t include the correct variety of Lilt. I saw him at a new act/new material night, 2 hours into the night, which is not the best time to go on, as half the room had left and the remainder were pretty weary. However, he injected energy into the room and had 19 out of the 20 people there laughing loud.

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Roadhouse – Thomas Rackham (MC), Dave Pollard, Siobhan Sadlier, Josh Pugh, Jon Pearson, Ashley Wright, Tom Sullivan, Simon Wozniak, Frasco Fools and Chris Sullivan

Tonight I was at the Roadhouse Comedy​ in Birmingham for the New Act/New Material night and all acts have been reviewed with this in mind. The Roadhouse is a lovely little gig, very friendly and is what I’d call a comedian’s gig. A lot of the audience are made up of comics from the area, rather than passers by. There are just two problems with the venue – a rock night 20 yards away and a biker’s bar upstairs, where they appear to be doing the riverdance.

The compere tonight was Thomas Rackham​ an act I’ve enjoyed before. He has a nice delivery, a grin that helps sell the jokes and some individually lovely lines (vibrating orange for one), but could do with some different topics for his material. Wanking, McDonalds and 5 a day are all well travelled areas and it is hard to stand out when other people have tackled these. He’s a comic of ability, so with material dealing with alternative topics, delivered in the way he does, I think he will achieve a lot more.

The opening act was Dave Pollard​. I’ve seen Pollard before on a night where a rowdy table loused up everyone’s acts, so it was nice to see him under better conditions. I’m very happy to say that he had a really good night, getting an applause break within one minute. Not many opening acts can do that. The persona he chose was that of an angry man, balanced on the edge of reason. This helped push his routine, but is possibly a doubled edged blade in that not all rooms will go for it and in a different environment could work against him. I’d be interested in him considering other methods of delivery that may have a broader appeal. Pollard had some really good material (Immature ejaculation being a banker), a cracking touch with a bald cap and some promising props. The props could do with being A3 at a minimum and if he were to announce them, it would help, as they were hard to make out 15′ away. He had a very good night, finding a level with blue material that wasn’t crude, getting good laughs and showing what he can do, which tonight was excellent.

Siobhan Sadlier was the next act on. She delivered her material not from notes, but from her phone. This isn’t ideal. She lost her place and spent a long time finding it, which by the third time wasn’t entertaining. She gave us an unexpected twenty minute monologue delivered in a monotone, read from her phone, rather than delivered. This set was light on laughs, but there was nothing totally irredeemable in her night. As a new act she could improve by editing her set down to 8-10 minutes, ditching the phone (notes are far better if you need them) and reworking her material to include more jokes.

The third act of this section was Josh Pugh​, doing new material. Josh is a good solid act, who injects a lot of fun just through his presence. He opened with a lovely line about his spot being about material that may not make it to Edinburgh. This immediately won the room round. He’s got a confident delivery, a good presence and eclectic material. This all adds up to a nice performance. As this was new material, not all of it was first class, the Drive in needs a bit of work, but groupon and chipped animals are really good.

After the intermission it was Jon Pearson​ trying out some new material and amended new material. He was doing a short notice 20, after having planned for a 10, so this was always going to be interesting. On the debit side, the machine take over and the jockey sections need work, but there is something there. On the credit side, the holiday is good, the exercise magazine good enough for a round of applause and the gym routine I really loved, as did the audience. This bit is gold. It was hard to concentrate at times on Jon’s set, as it sounded as if a riot was taking place in the bar upstairs, however, this was an excellent performance, with even the bits requiring work being entertaining.

The next person in was Ashley Wright doing his first ever set. He made a good start with a nice joke, but then his material took a bit of a dip. As a newcomer, he made a few first time errors, such as not delivering all of his material into the microphone and crouching as if he were walking up a tunnel, but this was more than made up for by a reasonable delivery and above all, presence. He held the room very nicely. This wasn’t out of charity from the room to a first timer, but just through him having stage presence. With better material and let’s be fair, who has knockout material first time up, here is a man who can do comedy.

Tom Sullivan followed. His set was an experimental set, that as with all new material nights was a work in progress. The material delivered still needs work. However, the man delivering it has a nice delivery and again, he was a comedian who held the room. Considering the delivery, with more workable material, Sullivan has the ability to do well.

Simon Wozniak opened the final section. By this stage, there were 20 people left in the room. He made 19 of these laugh, including his fellow comedians, which isn’t always easy. He gave us a set that touched on gambling, work, people’s kids on facebook and meal deals. This was delivered in a fast and vitriolic manner, which the room responded well to. As it stands, I was the one person in the room who was proving that enjoying comedy is subjective. However, anyone who can make 95% of a room laugh is doing something very well, so I hope he continues.

Frasco Fools were the penultimate act. They deliver short sketches some good, some better than good, none really bad. They have some nice touches with props and screams and they are a talented bunch. However, I’m not sure they really fit into the flow of a comedy night. No matter how good a group are, they will always be something of a square peg for a round hole. This is a shame, as these have definitely got something going for them.

Chris Sullivan closed, doing new material. Within a minute of him beginning I was relaxed and enjoying his work. He collected a series of fine laughs for his material and was an act that I wished had spent more time on stage, as I was really getting into his set. He had nice material, a good stage presence and above all was funny. He is someone I hope to see more of.

Nathon Caton and Phil Nicol – Edinburgh Previews

This afternoon I was at Bar 1 in Derby for the Funhouse Comedy Clubs- East Midlands​ Edinburgh Previews. Today I was there to see Nathan Caton and Phil Nicol.

Caton opened with the preview of his Straight outta Middlesex show. He spent the first 5 minutes warming up the room with some nice local observations. He was good with his banter and it was hard to tell the exact moment when he went from chatting to the room to his show, which was smooth. His show features political correctness, Fifa, faith and arses, a troublesome tweet and an attempted burglary.

This show didn’t have the feel of an Edinburgh show, instead it felt more like a club set, but the directors cut, with all the added bonus’. This makes it different in a nice way to the other previews I have seen. The material itself stands up. I had heard one small part before, but it was included in this show in the correct context and wasn’t out of place at all. The attempted burglary got a great laugh, which was no surprise, but to me the best part was the Baltimore Mum. I really liked the added reveal on that, it tickled me.

Of Caton himself, he’s a confident performer, who delivers good material to audiences that lap him up. He does a fair bit of TV work, but his best material isn’t to be found on a panel show, but instead on the radio and live. These mediums give him time to set a story up and then hit the audience with the reveal. I’ve seen him four times and will carry on seeing him as long as he carries on performing.

The second of the previews I’d booked for was Phil Nicol. He was an act that I’d not seen before, but one which FAF promotions​ had spoken highly of. His show was titled I don’t want to talk about it.

Nicol is another of those Canadian performers who have arrived here to bless us with their talent, much to the loss of the Canadian comedy scene (see also Tsonos and Zaharuk) and I’m pleased to say he had a good show. He began with an explanation of the title of his show, but one which involved increasingly convoluted wordplay of the sort that Sir Humphrey Appleby would have used, albeit at five times the speed.

Some acts can get knocked off their stride by distractions, such as a storm burst, or latecomers, but Nicol mines them for comedy, making these events the act for a few moments, in a way reminiscent of Noble and Monahan. One chap on the front row was foolish enough to be seen looking at the Funhouse brochure and as a result the next three minutes of the show became dedicated to him, which was pure joy – for everyone else.

Nicol is a very physical act, who will jump about at the drop of a hat and in the same way will vary his tone from conversational to shouting in the same timeframe. His material is decent, but the real joy is in his delivery of it. he gets more out of his material than many comics could out of comparable stuff. He’s a creative performer who could go on stage with nothing, but find something in the room and deliver it with panache. I sat performer, because he is more than a comedian, he is an entertainer. He finished his show with a song for which he played the guitar, which was a nice touch and he has a surprisingly good voice with which to do it. He can sing, play an instrument, do a good show and frankly it wouldn’t surprise me if he could juggle, as you get the impression this is a man who will attempt anything and manage to entertain whilst he does it.

Caimh McDonnell – Edinburgh Preview

This afternoon I was at the Funhouse All day event in Derby at Bar 1. I’d liked to have stayed for more than one act, but didn’t have the opportunity. However, the ticket price (£7 incredibly cheap) was worth it for the comedian I especially wanted to see: the one and only Caimh McDonnell.
This was an Edinburgh Preview (isn’t everything this time of year?) of his show Bride and Prejudice. Caimh made a strong start discussing his recent honeymoon in the American South and a lady called Barbara, before moving on to discuss his marriage and various racial prejudices. He got good laughs for an anecdote based around a previous job (this was a real gem), newspaper hypocrisy, a stag weekend, cultural differences and internet dating. Thankfully the internet dating section was extremely short and totally in context to the show – this is no criticism of McDonnell, but northwards of 20 comics have explained how Tinder works to rooms I’ve been in during the last 2 months and so I was glad that he had more rewarding things to make the room laugh with.
 
McDonnell has a fast paced delivery, which is perfect to the material and manages to inject energy into a room without the need to bounce around the stage. When Caimh draws a mental picture, he draws it well; the section where he was talking about his parents, one could almost imagine the wallpaper and teapot mashing. It was very noticeable that there were no shuffling of feet or people looking around the room whilst he was talking – he held the attention of everyone for the hour.
 
This was an hour of comedy that had a natural flow and delivery that passed swiftly and was filled with laughter. McDonnell is something of an enigma, in some ways. He is a man with solid writing credits, radio work and is well respected in the comedy industry, but is so almost unbelievably little known in the wider world (apologies to Rugby fans).

Tsonos, Quinne, Jollyboat, Innocent and Bromehead (MC)

Tonight I was at Jongleurs Nottingham to watch a very good line up. This was my first time in Jongleurs. It is very much a nightclub that also does comedy prior to clubbing time. The acoustics aren’t fantastic, but you can’t boast of many venues with a chandelier. It’s quite well organised, too, with the fruit machines turned off, bars closed during sets and the DJ made the announcement that set out the rules (reiterated by MC Joe Bromehead). Considering all of this, there were two drawbacks. One was the placing of two large stag parties – these were right at the front. This meant that the comedians were having to talk over them (literally at times), but in fairness, if they had been placed at the back, these tables may have just talked even more. Also, the tables were not laid out in rows facing the stage, but sideways on. If they had been facing the stage, the acts would have been able to isolate individual hecklers and shut them down more effectively. As it was, the layout encouraged a group mentality, which made life more difficult than it needed to be.
 
Joe Bromehead was compering. I’ve seen him twice and he’s done well twice. Tonight he made it the hat trick. Joe fits in well with lads and seems to bond well with them (although he had no trouble with a much older audience last week). I did wonder how he’d cope with two separate stag parties sat at the front vying for attention. He won them round pretty quickly, although he did have to do a fair bit of shushing. If he hadn’t established some decorum, the night could have been a heckle frenzy. Out of Joe’s material, I found his routine about fancy dress and the police to be a real stand out.
 
The first act was the talented David Tsonos. He pretty much instantly had the room weighed up and decided to deal with the stag parties head on. In what could have been a high risk move, he informed the two groups that he could take anything they had and beat them at it. With a comedian of less authority, this could well have opened a can of worms if twenty people had started shouting out, but with Tsonos, this approach was a real winner. It gave him chance to work in some material about divorce and cats. Tsonos has a nice style, where he will banter with a room and then reference his material to the room. This makes it feel relevant and of the now and is, frankly, a nice touch. He didn’t get out as much material as he would have done on a different night, but instead he bantered with the room, getting good strong laughs and controlling events nicely. It was a joy to see him again.
 
The next act was Freddy Quinne. I’ve seen him compere and found him very natural, but not doing a set before. He dealt with the stag parties by mixing banter with material and also by setting a fast paced delivery. I’ve seen Scott Bennett take a similar approach to a rowdy room and it work well and Freddy didn’t do too badly, either. I enjoyed his posh voice, the twist on the meal deal was great and his set went down well. I found him less constricted when he compered, and tonight I don’t think I’ve seen him at his best. However, this was more due to the room being disruptive than any failings on his part. He’s a good comic, with decent material and a great delivery.
 
Jollyboat opened after the intermission. Their spirited pirate section held the audience well and the daftness of it appealed nicely to the room. Their energy was invigorating and this section went down a treat. The next part was based on Disney and whilst it got laughs, was a very poor relation to pirates. It was all rather good fun, all the same.
 
The headliner was Jeff Innocent, a cockney who had the build and look of a bouncer and should they remake Highlander, a shoe in for playing the Kurgan. His set was something of a mixed bag. He had some nice material about bouncers, how he looks, race, drugs and criminality, but he seemed to struggle more with the two stag parties than anyone else. This could be because they had had a few more drinks than earlier. However, he didn’t really engage with them like Bromehead, Tsonos and Quinne had done. This didn’t spoil his set, it was still enjoyable, but I suspect it robbed him of the impact he could have had.

Peter Brush – Edinburgh Preview

Tonight I was in Buxton to see Mr Peter Brush do his Edinburgh Preview show – Older than the oldest dog that ever lived. Buxton is an extremely nice town that by map is close to most places, yet is a good 90 minutes or so away by road for me. This isn’t much of a problem, as it’s a pleasant drive through the Peak District, but it does mean that you have to be sure you really want to see the comedian performing there.
 
The venue was the Barrel Room, an underground venue, with good acoustics, but also reminiscent of a bomb shelter (some period posters on the wall would set it off a treat). The room had a mixture of booths alongside one wall, with a table, light and comfy sofa seating and the rows of chairs which looked as if some of the organiser’s dining room tables were now rather lonely. There was another room nearby (kitchen of adjoining hotel?) from which a constant hubbub of conversation could be heard, which was irritating. The crowd consisted of 8 people, which doesn’t sound like many, but which did half fill the venue, giving it a respectable feel, however building momentum with 8 people is a tricky job.
 
Although I’m neutral in reviewing people, I must confess that Brush is a favourite of mine. Not because he is the next Kitson or because I’ve hurt myself laughing (ala with Tom Binns), but because he does extremely intelligent sets with well thought out and unexpected reveals that work on more than one level.
 
Tonight he opened with a casual remark about his appearance, but strangely didn’t give it the twist about the gym that transforms it from a decent opener into something three times as good. This was then followed by some very sharp and individualistic observations about property, the afterlife, noisy neighbours, birth, vices, life expectancy, dogs, ghosts and then a splendiferous ending based on difficulty in finding a good hairdresser. Some of these are topics that have been touched before by other comics (property, vices and life expectancy), but Brush deals with them in his own way. He’s very sharp and articulate with a precise manner of delivery – a lot of comedians hmm and err during a set. With Brush there is none of this. He uses words with a wonderful precision that ensures he packs a lot into his set. It also means that you have to listen carefully to nuance, as a lot of his reveals pack double and triple payoffs into them. For example, one about school football team selection has 3 distinct laughs to it. There is a change in pace 40 minutes or so in, when we reach a very entertaining section about ghosts. This change in pace is welcome, as an hour is a long time for anyone, but also because it sets the scene for the finale of what is a really entertaining show.
 
This was Brush’s first hour long show. 60 minutes talking is a long time. It’s hard to fill an hour. Stadium headliners will typically do 45 minutes, have a break, do the next 45 minutes then go home. Brush doesn’t do songs, do characters or use props. Instead, he delivers observations with brilliant throwaway comments that sound really casual, but which in reality have been well thought through. This is an act that a clever crowd will really appreciate as they will get a lot of value from him. A crowd just wanting crude knob jokes, will also enjoy his set, but not nearly so much. He is definitely a man worth watching and with the right exposure, a star of the future.

Ivan Brackenbury, Tom Binns, Ian De Montfort, Stoney and Joe Bromehead (MC)

Tonight was a new comedy night hosted by Fafcomedy Clubs in Hucknall, at the George St WMC. This is a massive venue, with seating for probably half of Hucknall and a bar 100 yards away from the stage at the other end of the room. And stage it is – the stage is big enough to put on a panto of dramatic proportions. The room wasn’t totally packed out, but was pretty full, although the first 20 yards of seating was vacant, which was a shame. Joe Bromehead’s compering revealed that 95% of the room hadn’t been to a comedy night before, but they soon got the idea. A lot of the room were over 60 with only a smattering of people under 30. It was nice to see Chris Sherwood there, although he wasn’t gigging, it’s good when local talent come out to support a night.
 
Compere was Joe Bromehead. I’ve seen him before at the Staindrop, where he quickly set the level. Tonight, he felt his way a bit more carefully, probably due to the age of the audience. It’s hard to know how far to go with swearing and content in a room like tonight’s. However, this was no handicap to him, as he swiftly established his authority and warmed the room up nicely, without having to take a census of what people did. During his second session he got some good laughs for his material and was good fun to see.
 
Opening was the psychic Ian D Montfort. I loved his use of language, how he’d elongate the final syllable of mediuuuuuuum. He made a clever use of the empty seats at the front and set off to a great start. The room got him immediately and worked with him. His triple death routine was that funny I nearly hurt my ribs laughing. He had a massively impressive set up and ultimate triumph when he asked a member of the audience to pick a word.
 
After the intermission was Stoney. He continues to do really well with his deadpan set. He had the room laughing before he had opened his mouth and this continued for a good minute. Whilst he took a drink of water a few people talked, but this sipping was useful for pacing, as when he continued, it was with greater emphasis and the room were his again. He went down very well, with an applause break.
 
Following this was Tom Binns, demonstrating a relaxed presence. He did a stand up routine, followed by a ventriloquist act, topped by a song. This was a really good enjoyable set. This was a subtle set in some ways and not all of the jokes landed, but that was more due to the room, as both delivery and material were excellent.
 
Closing was Ivan Brackenbury, the hospital DJ, who was luckily broadcasting from the WMC. He absolutely smashed the gig, getting massive laughs throughout. I nearly hurt my ribs laughing at Ian D Montfort, but I actually did hurt them laughing at Brackenbury. The acting on stage during the music really sells this character. This was an extremely good night. I’ve been trying to see Montfort, Binns and Brackenbury for over a year, but our paths haven’t crossed. This was worth the wait.

Paul Sinha and Paul Kerensa (Ed Previews)

Tonight was an Edinburgh Preview double header – Paul Sinha and Paul Kerensa. These are where two comics try out their Edinburgh Festival shows prior to the festival commencing. They get to rehearse, the public get to see top comedians without having to travel too far. This was held at Bar 1 as part of the Derby Comedy Festival​, under Spiky Mike​ of Funhouse Comedy Clubs- East Midlands​. Bar 1 was packed out for tonight, a total sell out, which is lovely to see. There weren’t many people under the age of 30 and I suspect a lot were there to see a chap off the telly, rather than a pair of good comedians. The night started at 20.05, which was a real shame, because if it had been advertised for 20.15, then about 80 people would have been saved the trouble of getting a car park ticket. Compere was Spiky Mike.

Opening was Paul Kerensa, who had the tricky job of being the man the audience hadn’t paid to see. His show was Back to the Futon, pt2, all about Back to the Future part 2 and other things, which tied in nicely with 2015 being the future in that picture. He appeared on stage wearing a body-warmer, in-fitting with his theme. He did a spot of warming up before launching into the show. He has some lovely material about being pulled over in a Delorean, a great fin joke for Jaws and some puns that are so groaningly awful they become brilliant. However, it was his song that explained the original Back to the Future for those without a telly in the crowd. This song was truly splendiferous and whilst it got a round of applause, really a standing ovation would not have been out of place. Towards the end this show did falter a touch as the self heckling part was a tad laboured and over-ambitious, but this was only added yesterday and so should not be judged harshly at all. This show is very enjoyable and delivered with an energy and enthusiasm that brought a smile to the room.

Next on was Paul Sinha, who although he is best known for being a Chaser, is an accomplished comedian and has done some delightful shows on the wireless. His set reminded me of Geoff Norcott​’s two weeks ago. Not in content, but in the challenge of delivering comedy to a room where people are constantly getting up to get a drink or nip to the loo. Whilst he wasn’t on at the end of a late night, in contrast to Norcott, Sinha did suffer from loud music coming from the pub (soon rectified by the sounds expert who thankfully had a word), two phones ringing, glasses being knocked over and a girl tripping on what sounded like a pile of crockery. He did get a good laugh for his response to the crockery girl – evicted from ninja school? but it was far from ideal. However, he didn’t bat an eyelid and cracked on with his preview (named Z Lister). His material consisted of a number of very astute observations, which were also very funny and delivered with enough irony to sell them. He’s obviously known for being an intelligent chap and this show contained lots of references, but these were pitched at the right level. Nothing that required exposition, but just a general knowledge. It was a lovely show and received five applause breaks, something you don’t see often.

Gavin Webster, Freddie Quinne (MC), Stoney, Adam Rowe and Nathan Hudson

Tonight was FAF’s gig at Hoofers, at Field Mill. This is a gig I’ve been looking forwards to for some time. The line up attracted me, as I’ve seen Adam Rowe before and know he is good and I’ve heard a lot of very nice things about Freddy Quinne, same as Gavin Webster. Stoney I’ve seen a couple of times and enjoy, the only unknown quantity was Nathan Hudson, who it turns out I had actually seen a while back. The room itself, was airy and large and the tables had a much improved layout to last time, as they all faced the stage, inhibiting conversation whilst the acts were working. Also, the bar was closed during sets and food was delivered during the first intermission not just before or during the show. These are basics, but are often overlooked when a venue isn’t behind the comedy, or the promoter isn’t thinking. This all helped create a nice atmosphere, in a crowd who were there to enjoy the comedy, rather than having just wandered in to have a beer.
 
MC was Freddy Quinne, who has a rather entertaining podcast (By way of Cheer). He’s a very amiable chap with a big personality that filled the room when he was onstage. Some comperes have to work hard to win the room over, but he had them from the off. He didn’t need to use material, but just chatted to people and found the mirth in the audience. His faux pas with referencing Janet from the audience and World War 2 had everyone laughing very hard. Despite all the fun, he remembered to go over the ground rules, which not all comperes do in the heat of getting laughs. After the first intermission he did tread on a bit of a mine, but one that all comperes risk – that of getting a name wrong. He asked how Julie was, meaning Janet. This can happen to anyone and he rescued himself nicely from this with some impressive quick thinking. It’s nice when you hear a lot of good about a comic and they more than live up their reputation.
 
The first act was Adam Rowe. I’ve seen him before and enjoyed his work. Tonight he was trying some new material out and on the basis of what I saw, it all flowed very nicely. His cockeyed couple opening worked well, as did WD40 and there was a great double reveal to the dick size routine. His story about being mugged earned him an applause break, which was no surprise. The audience were thoroughly entertained. He has a one man show coming up later in the year in Liverpool and that is worth seeing.
 
After the intermission it was Nathan Hudson. I didn’t recognise him or his name at first, but once he began his set, I realised that I had seen him before at a Fowl Humour new material night, where he hadn’t made much of an impression on me. However, I’m pleased to say he had a much better night tonight and I enjoyed his set. His district 9 reference may require a rethink, as it baffled half the room, who were able to get it only from the context. However, he does have some nice observations and delivers them in a style that has a curiously Joker’s Wild feel to it. He went down very well with the room and was getting good laughs, but his closing was quite downbeat, considering it had been a buoyant set.
 
Next up was Stoney, playing to a home crowd. Stoney is a cheerful chap who generally has a grin on his face. However, what most of the people in the room don’t know is he does his set in the deadpan style, so seeing him stood there looking somber had people giggling straight away, as it was so unexpected. He delivered his set, getting consistent laughs, although the repossessed reveal definitely deserved a much bigger laugh than it got. He had a good night and it was nice to hear people outside saying they’d enjoyed him, but I’ve seen him perform much better than he did tonight.
 
Closing was Gavin Webster. He got good laughs from the off with a fast and relentless delivery. He seems to have 3 different things occurring at the same time, as he delivers a mixture of jokes, observations and apparently off the cuff comments. Everything he did landed heavily with the room, getting great laughs. My personal favourite was Chile and the apologetic ghost. He’d also done his homework regarding the area, as he slipped in enough local references to impress. I personally didn’t enjoy his set as much as I had hoped I would. This is no reflection on Webster, as he didn’t do anything wrong, it’s more a question of taste. The rest of the room loved him and I’d certainly recommend him as a good comic.

Jon Pearson, Paul Mutagejja, Liam Mitchell, Ben Keaton, Calum Tingham, Graham Milton and Will Collishaw

It was Fowl Humour​’s second comedy night at the Ned Ludd in Nottingham. This takes place upstairs, in a room quite separate to the main part of the pub. It’ll hold 70 people, but luckily tonight only 25 or so turned up in the heat. I say luckily, as it was sweltering hot in there, on the hottest day in ten years, which was bad luck for all concerned, as it affected performance and audience to some degree. Rob Stevenson was present in the audience, but was not performing, which was a shame, as he had impressed me when I saw him previously. Andy Fowler​ was on duty as welcomer, not MC. Owing to there being a large number of acts and everyone feeling the heat, he did the sensible thing and kept the compering to a minimum. This is not something I generally agree with and I’m sure under other circumstances Andy would have put in a full stint warming the room up, but frankly, it was just too hot.

Opening was Paul Mutagejja who came onto a room that was both boiling and also slightly cold to comedy. He gave the room a nice set, with a good feel to it and was a good choice for opener. He’s charismatic enough to get the audience interacting with him and has a nice style. His material was pretty decent, with Lincolnshire sausage and Skegness being standouts. He has a nice routine about a rollercoaster, which with a slight topical twist could be extremely good. I wasn’t too sure about his Granddad/football material. It wasn’t bad in itself, but the lengthy build was a bit disproportionate to the reveal. He had a good night and was well received by the room.

Will Collishaw had a tricky time. Due to the heat, he looked like he was melting and I think he did well to perform. He had some good material about lookalikes and whilst a comedian discussing who he looks like isn’t breaking any new ground, this was still good fun and got good laughs. The section where he discussed his recent mugging was decent, but his story about his dad wasn’t that good and could do with a bit more work. Collishaw has a nice speech pattern, in that he speaks in short sentences and this could perhaps be used nicely by him with a number of throwaway one-liners.

The ever entertaining Graham Milton opened play after the first interval. He was robbed of the momentum generated by his opening material by four late comers, but this wasn’t a serious impediment. He delivered good material from a set that hung together very well. He reminds me of Andrew Lawrence, but without the bitterness. The room enjoyed his set and it was fun to watch him alternately use material and banter with the room.

Calum Tingham has a lot of positives, but also some negatives. However, the negatives are nothing that can’t be resolved and the positives are very much to his credit. He looks comfy with a microphone, he’s confident, has a decent stage presence, good energy levels and a decent delivery. This is all good and is hard to learn from scratch. However, his material is on the weak side and not a lot of this seemed to land heavily with the audience. Tinder and online dating is ok as material, but it is a well trodden road. There aren’t many nights where someone doesn’t reference tinder or online dating. Tonight I think it was mentioned by three. With stronger material, he could achieve a lot more, as he has a certain amount of style already.

Ben Keaton was introduced as being from Father Ted, which just reinforced how long ago Father Ted was on telly. He was running a character act as a Catholic priest, which went down very well with the room. He has a fast paced delivery and some stand out material about sex toys, but the baptism routine was a bit overlong. The closing by being hit in the groin was certainly unusual. I personally wasn’t massively convinced, as I feel Irish comedians doing jokes about being Catholic is a bit of a cliché, however, the rest of the room were impressed and he had a good gig.

Liam Mitchell opened the final section. He has a quiet delivery and hasn’t got the biggest stage presence, but he does have some nice material that he does sell quite well. He received a good laugh for his first visual joke, which I liked. However, for his other visual gags, he does need something bigger, as from 20′ away it was hard to see what was on his screen. Again, he was a comedian who dealt with online dating, albeit from a more novel angle. I did feel that Mitchell was a bit short-changed with his hay fever reveal, as it was a really nice line and definitely deserved more than it received from the crowd.

Jon Pearson​ closed. It’s always a joy to watch this chap. Tonight he was weaving new material into his act alongside his established material. He did 30 minutes in the sweltering heat, which was some going. He began on a bit of a false note by some off the cuff banter about the heat, but he had enough stage craft to see he wasn’t getting much back for it and swiftly jettisoned it and moved on. His border material received some good laughs, his feline relations a more mixed response, but this does show potential. His do it up’er gag is definitely a keeper. His careers advice has a lot of promise, but could do with some work on the twist at the end. His cannibalism material went down well and the add on of the holiday destination is lovely.