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.