This month I’ve seen 69 acts and these are the ones that have impressed me most over August.
The first three acts are more than capable of holding a room for 20 minutes and whilst Cowards is a professional comic, both Draper and Pagett have the ability to join him on the circuit.
Draper has consistently given good performances every time I’ve seen him. Also he has continued to improve, adding material to his set almost every gig. He’s not got a massive presence online and I’d argue falls into the category of acts that aren’t as well known as they should be.
My review from when I saw him:
The main event of the night was Patrick Draper’s Edinburgh Preview of his show – Totally Vacuous. Tonight he showed why he was in the final of the English Comedian of the year, giving a highly impressive performance. He is an act that just seems to get better every time I see him. There is a cracking running postcode gag, some enjoyable songs and a set that flowed very nicely with lovely visuals. The opening gag does work better when it is written on his hand, but this is a very minor quibble. Out of all of the Edinburgh Previews I have seen, his is the only one to get 5 applause breaks.
I’ve only seen Cowards once, but he gave a really good show. He was compering and made it look effortless. I’d like to see a full set from him, as he demonstrated something rather entertaining that night.
Review from the night: Cowards (sporting a beard) gave a sterling performance tonight. He swiftly identified a football team sat at the front and singled them out for his attention. With this, he exhausted any propensity for them to shout out and won them over to the night. he gave the room some groan inspiring, yet also incredibly funny puns. It was nice to hear the bog room fill with laughter from the off. A lot of comperes will warm a room up and get a few laughs, instead Cowards gave good entertainment value. He ran through the rules and stayed on long enough to do his job without threatening to dominate the night.
The third of the acts that have impressed me most this month is Mr Phil Pagett. I’ve seen him twice doing ten minute spots and it would be nice to see him do his twenty minute set. One liner comics are a minority on the circuit and Pagett stands out as being very nifty at it.
Review from the night: Opening after the first intermission was Phil Pagett, a very clever one liner expert who I think could go a long way. I’ve seen Pagett before at a gig in Derby, where he was one of the few acts who weren’t messed around by a drunken table. Tonight he demonstrated his talent to a more appreciative audience, getting a good laugh from his opening line and then carrying on from there. His puns came thick and fast with a high ratio of hits to them; probably 90% hit home hard. He got deeper laughs when he did a combination of puns on a subject and built up the momentum, rather than for the stand alone jokes. However, he gave the room an excellent time and showed how time is relative – his ten minutes seemed to fly by all too soon. Pagett is a man to watch for the future.
The remaining comics all performed at open mike nights and impressed me by their talents. These are people to watch develop over the next few years or so.
Review of the night: Phil Reid followed, giving a very strong performance. He had a nice opening with the meaning of names, allowing him to reference people in the room and some lovely reveals on his own name. He had a slight dip when he discussed his second kid, but this was only slight. The second reveal on turning into his dad was excellent. He went with a spot of room work, which considering he opened with material gave a well rounded feel to his set. It didn’t surprise anyone when he was the eventual winner.
Reviews: Opening was Michael Dryburgh. He hit the ground running with a joke about working class, that had two laughs, one when he said it and then another 5 seconds later when the other half of the room got the joke. His material about his ex is a banker and there was real joy on the second reveal concerning his break up. He got consistent laughs from the room, including an applause break. He’s progressing very nicely with a pretty solid 10 and had a good night.
Michael Dryburgh was the third of the finalists and he demonstrated how well things are going for him at the moment. He is a comedian who has definitely moved up a gear. He received laughs for everything he said on a five minute slot that must have been tricky to edit his ten down into. It was lovely to watch him and the room really went with him, which as last act on a long night is something.
There is one more act who opened, but who I have saved for last on the grounds that he had an outstanding night: Mr Thomas Rackham. It’s not often that you see someone smash a new material night with actual new material, but tonight he did this. His notion of a new computer game received strong laughs, the part about Hitler and cuddly animals even better laughs, the reworked milky legs section now flows smoothly, but above all he has struck gold with a development of an insult to his hair. In this he slid into darker material, but used in this context, I think it is more likely to result in an applause break than offence. One of his lines was so good, i was still laughing at it when he began the next joke. The improvement in the 6 days since I last saw Rackham is remarkable. He now has stand out material to match his delivery. A true highlight of the night.