Bentinck Miner’s Welfare – Ian D Montfort, Stoney, Tom Binns, Ivan Brackenbury and Christian Steel (MC)

Tonight I was at the Bentinck Miner’s Welfare for the Tom Binns triple show. I’d brought my mum and dad, plus my friend to see this. When you see a lot of good comedy there is always the temptation to send messages to everyone you know, on facebook anyway, telling them of a great night that is in the offing. However, rather than alienate friends through bombarding them, I’ve decided to share posts on my wall, but only to specifically ask people when I know they’ll really enjoy a particular show. Tonight’s show was one of these. Whilst Tom Binns was the name that persuaded me to round up the family, we were also lucky in the MC, Christian Steel, a man who added to the mirth of the evening.
As compere, Steel gave the room a balanced performance. He mixed material and banter skilfully, with no feeling that he was crowbarring references in. This is all to the good. He’s got a nice turn of phrase and had a cracking throwaway phrase that received a good laugh. His material felt relevant and in his banter he singled out the people who offered up the best prospects for mirth. He didn’t spend too long on any one person, either, nor did he hit any mines in the shape of people sat arms folded incommunicado, as I’ve seen a few MCs go head to head with those types and gain a pyrrhic victory. There was none of that tonight, just a man doing what was necessary in a skilful way and getting laughs as he did it. My mum liked him, too, which on one level is neither here nor there, but I do like to hear any member of the audience appreciating an act. Whilst Steel didn’t do the rules, I don’t believe he had to, as Stoney has a recording that does this during the warm up. This left Steel with more time for mirth, which he took good advantage of. Steel’s timing was also good. He didn’t do too long as MC, nor did he skimp, either. He prepared the room nicely.
The first act was Ian D Montfort, psychic. Montfort is a well fleshed out character with a lovely speech pattern and some rock solid material of the ‘how does he do that’ variety. In contrast to the last time I saw him, this room immediately got the joke, which was nice. Montfort held the room easily, showing the many permutations of Sue Walker. He was a bit unfortunate in picking someone who hadn’t brought their reading glasses for one part, but this was an extremely minor hiccup in an excellent set.
Resuming after the intermission was Stoney, who had what may be described as a mixed night. He began with a long drawn out silence, establishing his presence. I’ve seen this work wonders a few times, whereas tonight it seemed to work against him. I feel this was because he was performing infront of people who know that he is a jolly type of cove, rather than the brooding type. He wasn’t helped during this with some noise coming from the tap room. He went on to ask about Simon Pegg, which drew only one response. I believe this was more due to any members of the audience not wanting to stand out, as opposed to any lack of knowledge and he could probably have pressed on with that section. As it was, he moved on and his night then picked up as the room warmed to him. He got good laughs for his visual gag, for his haunted house and for his medical ailments. Whilst he didn’t have as good a night as I’ve seen him have, Stoney didn’t have a bad night once he got going and he did get some good laughs.
Tom Binns followed Stoney. He gave us a superb middle with an amazing set involving an entire family through the medium of ventriloquism. The various family members gave Binns free reign to throw out all sorts of material and one liners and a brilliant running gag as he introduced each family member. I saw this set in July and the amount of improvement on an already great set since then was remarkable. As strong as Montfort and Brackenbury are, this section may be even better.Truly splendiferous.
Closing was Ivan Brackenbury, the hospital DJ. This began to an electrical hiccup, which was surprising, as FAF tend to cover every detail to quite a degree. This was only a 15 second wonder and laughs were gained as it was resolved. Brackenbury did a stellar job of closing, with some audience members getting jokes faster than others, depending on their musical knowledge. If you can picture a room full of people laughing loudly, and my mum having hysterics, then you can imagine the night nicely. Whilst I could argue that the middle act was stronger than the DJ, finishing in this order is probably for the best, as this section is easier for a drunken audience to get and is also bombproof in any room.

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