Tonight I was at the Canal House for the Nottingham Comedy Festival £1 night. This had been brought forwards a week due to NCF decamping to Edinburgh for the festival. The room had a new layout, which excited me a lot more than it should have done, but which I still liked. A lot. There was a really good crowd there tonight, although they were a bit cold to begin with. MC was Wayne Beese.
Beese didn’t have the easiest job as the room didn’t really seem to want to be warmed up at first. He’d come out with a nice pleasant gambit and get little back. However, he persevered and did succeed, getting decent laughs, but then had the opposite problem with a couple who thought the night was more interactive than it really was. However, he dealt with them quite nicely, inviting them onto the stage to play a game after the first intermission. Whilst this game didn’t add momentum, it did generate some decent laughs and was fun. This could have been a risky move considering that the couple were a bit too involved in shouting out, but it paid off. Beese had a cracking anecdote about clothes and fire that got a really strong laugh and it was nice to see him.
Opening was Michael Dryburgh, who I coincidently saw last night in Leicester. He made a small error with his first sentence, revealing a punchline before the build, but swiftly jettisoned the approach he was taking and moved to different material. This was a lot smoother than it might have been with a different comedian, but did force him to rejig his act on the spot. He went down well with his set, getting decent laughs and showing that he is coming on nicely as an act. However, if he were a record, last night would have been the A side and the rejigged set tonight, the B side. He couldn’t see the audience due to the lighting, but if he were to look 2′ lower, he would connect with the audience better, even though they don’t know he still can’t see them and this would help push his set further. This isn’t a criticism, as he connected nicely, more a suggestion for improvement.
Second on was Callum Tingham. This is the third time I’ve seen him and I’ll concentrate on the good first. He is confident and has a good delivery. However, his material is letting him down. A lot of it didn’t seem to really work or lead onto anything. He may want to try different styles of presenting comedy, as what he is doing presently isn’t really working for him in my opinion. However, I am sure that he will find his comedy voice.
The third act was the enjoyable Rosie Francis. She looked relaxed and happy on stage, getting a good laugh from the off with her Ron Weasley gag. Her set hung together nicely, moving from topic to topic with no sudden lurches or change in pace. She even survived and flourished after killing an empty seat and is definitely onto something with the different classes of death.
Opening after the intermission was Jeanette Bird-Bradley, who is a pretty new act, being on her third outing. Considering her inexperience she gave a surprisingly strong performance, holding the room nicely. Her material was decent and the same can be said for her delivery. There’s room for some refinement in the material, but that’s no surprise for a third attempt. She’s a comic who did very well tonight.
Next was Jack Boyles, who was doing new material and trying a new direction for his comedy. Rather than give us a downbeat set, Boyles offered up a routine based on current affairs and one that was probably written at most, 10 days ago. This is a challenging approach, as it relies on not only the audience watching the news, but also them finding his take on it entertaining. He succeeded in places, but not in all. I’d say he probably had a 60% hit rate, which isn’t bad and is something that can be improved on. It was a nice change of style and the laughs for the hits were good.
Closing the second section were the Frasco Fools. They demonstrated an impressive range of characters and sketches, getting laughs. They are undoubtedly good at what they do, but I’m not sure the best home for it is on a comedy bill, as it is such a change in tempo.
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.