Tonight I was supposed to be in Glee to see James Acaster. However, when I awoke from a short 3 hour nap this afternoon I had a real burning yen to go and see Pat Monahan, instead. A quick message to Helen Stead reserved me a seat and I settled down to tea a happier chap. I’ve nothing against seeing Acaster, although I didn’t enjoy his series on the wireless last year. I’d have been happy to see him, as I’ve often found that some mediums don’t allow a comic to get the most out of their talent (see Caton on panel shows).
The canal house was pretty busy, especially when one considers it was a Wednesday night. Monahan has a large fan base and they are loyal, too. A group had travelled from Lincoln to see him – he was able to name check a surprising amount of people in the room. If all comedians had this sort of following then nights would sell themselves. The demographic was a fair bit older than what you’d expect, but Monahan made it obvious that age is no barrier to laughter.
Elliott introduced Monahan, as there wasn’t a compere or warm up act. Tonight Elliott added to the value of the show in a couple of subtle ways. He did the rules, showing a nice level of authority and then introduced Pat as if it were a wrestling match, giving him a lovely big build up – the man, the legend….. MR PAT MONAHAAAAAAAN!! This was splendid. The other thing that Elliott did that added to the night was joining in some of the dancing to a punk metal band – the sight of him head banging at the sound controls, joining in was great.
The show got off to a big start, with possibly the most spectacular opening to any of the shows I’ve seen at the festival so far. Monahan recreated a 70’s disco and had all of the audience dancing whilst he lead a small conga around the crowd. This demonstrated his powers of not only persuasion, but also his feel for what he can achieve with a crowd. This community dancing and clapping in time to D.I.S.C.O gave the night a feeling of inclusivity and that we were all in it together, enjoying this. The room was somehow no longer a roomful of strangers. It was also a highly appropriate song, as the show is entitled ‘The Disco Years’ and is all about Monahan’s early life. Owing to Pat’s legendary sense of timekeeping on stage and ability to explore tangents, I think it would take 4-5 shows to get through this topic. He began with a discussion about varying amounts of calories burnt doing various dances and then other activities. I’d be interested in knowing how many calories Monahan burns during a show, as he never stands still. This man is like a human Duracell bunny.
Monahan is one of those chaps who can bring a smile to one’s face just by his mere presence. He has an incredibly joyful demeanour, which helps. His real talent, though, lies in two areas. One being his razor sharp brain – whatever an audience member says, he has a great response for it and this comes back very fast. The other great talent is his memory. He could remember individual members of the audience by name and also he could remember little bits of information that had been revealed by his crowd work. These formed a stream of call backs that made the night feel very much of the now. Needless to say this was loved by the audience.
I was interested in seeing Monahan do a structured set based around his life, but as this chap can improvise a comedy tangent out of almost anything, we only covered some of the ground. I don’t think this really mattered, as the night was splendiferous. The Pablo Escobar reference being massively funny. As we had a big start, we also had a big ending, with several of the audience members dancing away on the stage.
This was a really good night and I think that Helen Stead did well to keep it more or less within the expected time frame.