Tonight I was at the Admiral Rodney in Southwell for the Funhouse night, along with Stoney, who had come out to enjoy the show and support a fellow promoter. I like this gig, consistently there are good acts, the room is nice, the audience are up for it and basically, if one turns right at the top of my street and carries on in a straight line, you arrive in the car park for this place. More or less, anyway. As ever, the room was pretty full, near a sell out, which is lovely for the acts and it also ensures a good night for the audience. This is a pub with a regular crowd, who come out in strength for the show and they have a lot of affection for Spiky Mike, which helped him to compere the night. This was also one of those rare occasions, where a shout out from a member of the audience, Andy, was both genuinely funny and a welcome addition to the night. I still doubt he will get to go skiing, though.
The opening act was Pippa Evans, who I was a little bit wary of to begin with. Although I’d never seen her before, I have seen musical comedians and found many not to be my cup of tea. I’ve also seen lady musical comedians and found them to be even less my cup of tea simply because so many of their songs are just so angry. To me, too many of songs start nicely and lovingly in the first verse, but by verse two all hell has broken loose and they are singing of their hatred for their boyfriend. With this in mind, I felt wary, but open minded. Evans opened by testing the mic through shouting ‘I’m bleeding!’. This was followed by a song involving a nice trip out with her boyfriend that by verse two had devolved into a very unpleasant journey. This was not looking good. However, at this point, which was about 3 minutes in, it all suddenly became a lot more fun. Evans began to do some accents, came out with a winner of a joke about Greggs and then a fantastic song about the ‘White Wine Witch’, which landed massively well with the room – although I wouldn’t have objected to her using someone else’s hat to pretend to be sick into, rather than mine. This was suddenly looking a lot better than it had done during the first song. This was all followed by some really good audience work, a technically excellent, as well as funny song about a parking ticket. By now, I was fully won over to Evans and was having a splendid time – the rest of the room were all loving her set too. The finale approached genius in how she managed to extract material from Spiky Mike’s compering and her own audience work and not only work it into a song, but to make it pretty damn hilarious to boot. This ended up as an incredibly strong performance.
Following the intermission, we resumed with Aaron Twitchen. I like Twitchen, because I find his flamboyant personality really heart warming and I was looking forwards to seeing him in a ten spot for once, as opposed to just trying out new material. Tonight he hit the ground running, with the audience seeming to warm to him almost straight away. He had lots of energy and some lovely turns of phrase, which were very well received by the room. He did seem to push the boundaries of the audience with ‘ugly cocks’, which was odd, as the act that followed him was far more sexually explicit, without the audience drawing back. The highlight of his set was his section about school reunions, especially a pregnant school friend. This seemed to skate on the edge of an applause break, which would have been well deserved.
Dave Bryon was next. I found his set to have some really good parts, but also some lines that were a bit familiar. However, his delivery was excellent and the room really went with him, as a lot of his material seemed to strike a chord with them. His set could be split almost into two halves. The first half was the story of him losing his virginity, which contained a great line about the ladies of a nightclub defying gravity, but it also held well travelled ones, such as by being surprised by a condom which wasn’t there when he first went in. This didn’t make any difference to the crowd, as they were very much with him. The second section, audience participation, involved a demonstration of air safety. This could have been taken in a number of directions, but did stay fairly conventional. The room enjoyed it, but the joke about the rationale for assuming the crash position is so that you can kiss your arse goodbye is a bit dated and I don’t think anyone hasn’t made a joke about oxygen being an extra on Ryanair. Bryon had a really positive delivery that worked extremely well. He had numerous asides and comments for the audience that all landed well, which was very good. I just felt that his material could be improved.
Michael Fabbri closed the night. He seemed to make a bit of a slow start by discussing posh towns, which wasn’t really his fault – I think every act had commented upon the area’s affluence already. He was on far firmer ground with his tales of working in a job centre and his dyslexia. These were great, but topped by his clothes shopping mishap. Fabbri’s material about his partner giving birth dealt with an issue that has been covered by a few comics, but which also seemed fresh and unique, which is no mean feat. However, for my money, his section about bungee funerals at the coast was the stand out part of his show. It is easily pictured and once imagined, it is hard to stop smiling at it. I shouldn’t be surprised if there is a whole set to be had in alternative methods of stiff disposal. Fabbri had a really good night, but not only because his material was good, but also because so much of it revolved around a unique way of seeing things. Quite often comedians will see things differently to other people, but Fabbri seemed to be one step beyond his peers in this and this made his set feel wonderfully different.