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.