Tonight I was at the Roadhouse in Birmingham for the new act/new material night. These nights are lovely, although a swine of a journey, especially when some inconsiderate git closes part of the M1 off on the way home. The room here is cosy, the atmosphere welcoming and the room friendly. The only thing it is missing are a couple of those sentry guns from Aliens, which may persuade people to close the doors into the performance room behind them. Compere was Laura Monmoth.
Monmoth began compering with a bit of Morse code, which led into a few visual gags, which was a fun start to the night. When it comes to the Trans Woman Action Team, there is potentially a very good routine just in that bit alone if she chooses to flesh it out. Laura kept the show going nicely and with the large number of acts, did well to keep timings under control. Truth told, the room doesn’t need a lot of compering, as it is mostly acts present. However, tonight there were a few more civilians, which is very nice to see. Monmoth had an enjoyable night and did a good job.
Tom Christian opened the show with some new material. This is an act who is doing very well, winning a gong show two weeks ago in an impressive way. Tonight he was doing one liners and puns. In the last fortnight, I’ve seen both Gary Delaney and Phil Pagett, which sets the bar very high when it comes to punnage. Christian did very well with his work, being clever and funny in equal measure. Not everything landed, but the majority did. A few of the conceptual running gags were a tad laboured, but with a bit more consideration, these will work. This was a very strong set from a versatile artist.
Gary Peterson was second on the bill. He began with a bit of low powered beard related material. This was competent, but not especially stand out. He had stronger material related to scrotums. Peterson had a good stage presence and held the room well, showing promise, but his material could do with a few improvements.
Josh Pugh closed the first section. He’s a very talented act who should at least be a semi-pro, as he has a lot of ability. Tonight he demonstrated good delivery, good material and got good laughs. I especially enjoyed the section on name dropping. He, along with Christian, would be a good addition on a pro line up.
Resuming after the intermission, we began with Sarah Airey, an act who I’ve met plenty of times, but never seen perform before. Her set is autobiographical in nature and is of two definite halves, with the first half setting up the second. Of these halves, the second is by far the stronger and the material involved, indeed the entire premise, is rather unique and has a lot of charm and real potential. The first half was funny, but the second half is where the real joy is, evidenced by the hearty laughs that greeted each reveal. I really enjoyed her work and look forwards to seeing how Airey develops her set.
Danny Beet followed. He had a mixed set, with some current affairs material and some stuff relating to age. The current affairs section was stronger, but I feel his lack of stage presence isn’t helping him. Tonight he kept his jacket on, which perhaps if he had taken it off, or gone with a less formal approach, may have assisted him. I could be wrong. At times I struggled to hear him, and I thought at first it might have been his accent, or his failing to project his voice, but it could actually have been the moments when he was walking away from me, towards his notes. Decent material, but needs to work on delivery and presence. He’ll get there.
Joe Bowley had a good night, with his mix of magic, mirth and a song. He has a nice refreshing approach, which helped him deliver his material. He could do with avoiding lines like, ‘so I’m still single’ which is a bit hack, but given the strength of his material, I’m surprised he included it in the first place. This is a comic with an eclectic set who I hope to see more of.
Liam Dillon-Cambridge had a confident delivery, but made a slow start, gradually building up momentum as he went. I wasn’t massively keen on his material, as a large part of it consisted of taking the piss out of unlikely warnings on everyday objects. I don’t feel this is breaking any new ground. However, the rest of the room felt it was funny and gave him an applause break, so fair play.
Concluding the middle section was Rob MacKellar, whose set was more clever than funny. A lot of it pertained to bags for life, riffing off of the various permutations and logical development of this theme. It was clever and novel, but low on laughs. He did have a call back to a spot of Laura’s compering, which reaped a huge laughter dividend and achieved two things. One, it rescued his set and two it demonstrated that there is a rather sharp comedic brain there. I like clever comedy (see Peter Brush), but it has to have more laughs than what was in this set. I would consider MacKellar to have the potential to do a very nice, clever and funny set, but this wasn’t it. I look forwards to seeing him with different material.
Jordan Hardy began the final segment, this being his very first time in front of a microphone. He had a good night. On the debit side, he was reading from notes and had a few too many erms for my liking, but then as this was his first time, both these issues are eminently forgivable. He also had material on tinder, but as a new performer, he won’t know that this has been done to death over the last few months. On the credit side, he had some really nice touches, with some very good material. His American section was especially good. He is someone who should continue to do stand up.
Paul Harrington is a nice pleasant person whose delivery was more confident than his material really warranted. Some of this material was extremely weak and generic, but this can be improved upon, given time. The room enjoyed his set more than I did.
Tim Done (pronounced Dohne) closed. He has a nice presence on stage, almost verging on flamboyance, which was rather nice and appealing. He began with some local references before moving on to quite a large section about being Gay. This was fine material and it got good laughs, but did threaten to monopolise his set. Whilst this section was really good, he may wish to consider broadening his topics, as a set that consists largely of one area does, to me, have an unbalanced feel to it and 8 minutes of any topic can be a bit much. Done gave us a very entertaining fun set and is a chap who had a good night.