This month I have seen 64 acts and these are the ones that have impressed me the most.
Briggs is a wonderfully dark comedian who can split some rooms. However, the last two times I’ve seen him, he’s had absolute belters of gigs. The gig in Eastwood, last month, was to an audience who looked likely to appreciate darker humour, whereas last night the audience didn’t look to be Briggs’ natural constituency, yet he still pulled off a wonderful performance that they lapped up.
From the review:
After a spot of compering and material from Jon Pearson, it was Ben Briggs. I like Briggs – anything is possible when he is on stage. He made an immediate impact with a few lines he’d thought of on the way up the motorway. From this he gave us some relatively lighthearted material, before going gradually darker and darker. This was a true joy to watch. His set hung together extremely well, with no real gaps between topics. He did get brought to a grinding halt by the drunken lady, whom he was rather gentle with, but this was only a temporary hiccup and was handled graciously by him. This winner of a set was delivered superbly, with lots of visual and physical actions and movements. Everyone had received laughs, but Briggs got huge laughs. The darker he went the more this room went for him. This is the second time I’ve seen him recently and he’s had a fantastic gig both times. So far this year, I have seen two comedians who have had me laughing that hard I’ve hurt myself. Tom Binns was one and tonight Ben Briggs was the second.
This comedian is pretty well known and is worth travelling to see.
From the night:
I can’t say that I was familiar with this chap prior to seeing him in Ashby de la Zouch, but as he usually gigs down south this isn’t a huge surprise.
From my review of the night:
An essay on philosophy might ask how can a comedian who didn’t make you laugh the most, still be the one that you enjoyed the most? The answer to this would be that they were incredibly sharp, had good material, a great delivery and held the room in the palm of their hand. In other words, it was James Bran in Ashby. Bran delivers his lines in a way that most of us would converse if we were tucked up in bed and drifting off. This is actually very endearing and his diction isn’t a million miles away from Andrew Lawrence. Some comedians deliver material in a shouty way to add the emphasis. Bran doesn’t. He speaks quietly and draws people in, making them concentrate on what he is saying. Whilst he speaks slowly and quietly in a sleepy kind of way, this is deceptive, as his brain is actually very sharp indeed. He demonstrated this by making a knowing play of asking the same audience member the same questions that Woodward and Spiky Mike had, naturally to huge appreciation. Of his material, it all stands up and hangs together with nothing that shouldn’t be in there and some lovely lines, indeed. He deserved more for his Pirate crows nest than the room gave him, though. This is a comedian who I think we’ll hear a lot more about in the coming years.
Review of the gig:
Gong show/open mic nights
Please note that although I saw these acts at gong shows, this does not reflect their actual level. These are both good acts who punch well above the average level found at gongs.
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.
The final act of the first section was Tom Christian. From his first moment on stage it was obvious he can do the business. He made a strong start with Meatloaf and then basically went from strength to strength. The only bit that was anything less than really good was ant powder, but even so, this was a lead in to other material that was, again, really good. During the final, where the acts had one minute to make a final impression, he was the only one who received an applause break. He was the winner in the applause off and demonstrated a very high level of skill tonight.
Dan Nicholas was next. He’s got the combination of good material and also a really good performance. There is a lot of mileage in his facial expressions and general physicality on stage, these really help him put his stuff over. He’s confident on stage and was willing to engage with the audience drawing them into his set. No one dared let their attention wander, just incase he put them on the spot. He received good laughs and again was a finalist. This is someone with a lot of raw ability. He does engage in surrealism at times and this can split rooms, but Nicholas is certainly someone to look out for.