Tonight I was at the Birmingham Roadhouse Comedy new act/new material night. Host was Laura Monmoth.
Laura had a relaxed, conversational and open approach to compering this gig. With only 8 civilians and 11 acts in the room, anything else may have been considered overkill. She was a bit unlucky with the people she chatted to, as none of them gave her much to work with. She did suggest a few ideas to them that were quite creative, so I think she may have been better off ignoring them and exploiting these ideas herself. Laura worked hard and was a good host, but I think that she needs a different room to show her full potential, as she has a lot more in her than was needed tonight.
Opening was Chris Norton Walker, a man of infectious enthusiasm and who can inject atmosphere into a thermos flask. He is also a chap who I generally catch at odd gigs. Tonight he started well, but was partially derailed by an audience reaction to his material. He stayed in control of the room and worked the reaction for comedy, but it did get in the way of him doing new material. He was still a joy to see and as ever, very funny.
Dean Smith was on second. He began well, but lost momentum setting up his microphone. He had that much trouble with the microphone stand that it began to look like part of his act. He had some nice one liners, but a lot of his set was lost due to an indistinct voice and noise coming from the rock night 20′ away. If he projected his voice more, then he would have had a better night.
Nicholas Steinberg was a different act. I’m not sure if he is working on a comedy persona or is a retro comedian. I say this, because if you had given him a frilly shirt, kipper tie and cigar, he could have been on The Comedians, circa 1972. The most modern reference in his set was from the mid 90s (Scousers saying hey, hey, repeatedly, allegedly), but most (Mother in aw jokes) could have been delivered at any point from 1970 onwards. He had enough Tommy Cooper material to head towards being a tribute act. If you are looking at doing a 70’s night, then he will be of interest to you.
Paul Mutagejja closed the first section. He’s an act I’ve seen and enjoyed before. He made a great start, referencing the room, added lots of energy and brightened the place up considerably. He’s got nice material and got a good result from an on the spot pun. He spent a lot of time getting rounds of applause for various people and items. This helped create a good atmosphere, but it may have taken up time that could have been spent on material. However, his material went down well due to him creating a good atmosphere, so this is something that will vary on the night. The end result was a very pleasant feel good set.
Colin Hayward opened the second session. He’s got a good stage presence and a nice way with banter. Although he did a short set,it is easy to see that he has potential and is strong working with an audience.
Liam Mitchell had a very good night. He reminds me of Peter Brush in his style. Intelligent material, delivered with nuance and not a knob joke in sight. He has a quiet delivery, but he held this room nicely and his timing was impeccable. I’ve seen him before and this was a lot better than his previous performance. In fairness on that occasion, he was on late, on the hottest night of the year and in a room with no aircon. Tonight he was a stand out act.
Betty Costello-Singleton was on her second gig. She had four nices. Nice material, nice delivery, nice stage presence and is a nice person. The 4th isn’t strictly necessary for comedy, but is still very pleasant. Her set stood up well and it wasn’t obvious that she was a relative newcomer. From what I saw tonight, she has a future in comedy.
Moses Hassan (Nassah) was on his 3rd gig. He specialises in dark material, some of which is quite clever and very funny. As with most people who go dark he split the room a bit, but he never relied on dark just to get a reaction, it was always as part of a wider joke. His set was enjoyable and I’m looking forwards to seeing how he develops. I would suggest he hold the microphone in the future, as he did sometimes move a bit away from it.
Natasha Bisby opened the 3rd session and might have been doing new material. Her delivery was confident, but the material was as strong as the delivery She touched on minions, online dating and onesies. Online dating has been done to death, the other two are less well travelled topics, but her material will need a bit of work to match up to her delivery.
Rob Jones made a sweeping start before embarking on a low energy subdued set. However, although this doesn’t sound like an immediate winner, he did have a good night, despite acts outnumbering civilians 3 to 1 by now. His tutorial on ties got strong laughs, but the real joy was in the various one liners and throw away comments, these were all very funny.
Closing was Roger Swift who was work shopping his Edinburgh introduction. This was ludicrously and gloriously silly and provided fantastic fun.