Tonight I was in Leicester to see Peter Brush. This was a birthday treat for both of my aged parents, whose birthdays fall in February. I did give them the chance of seeing Johnny Vegas or Brush, heartily recommending PB out of the two. I knew my mum would enjoy him, because she likes Yes Minister. I wasn’t too sure what the Old Man would make of him. My guess would be that he would enjoy the bits he actually heard. I knew that I’d have a good time, because out of 350 comedians I saw last year, Brush was my favourite. I saw a lot of good comics, but great quality intelligent writing will always be a winner with me. This was only my second gig (Jon Pearson being the other) as part of the Leicester Comedy Festival, which seems incredible , but owing to shift patterns and prior commitments things hadn’t gone as well as I’d have hoped. However, seeing both Pearson and Brush has made up for this.
The venue was Hansom Hall, which was packed out. Most of these people were here to see Vegas, but whilst I’d love to see Brush perform in front of a huge crowd, being downstairs with a smaller group somehow made it feel as if we were all in on a secret that the peeps seeing Vegas were missing out on. The room itself was octagonal with religious artwork and a huge high ceiling. Probably not the sort of place one would associate with comedy, but it had a nice atmosphere and there were enough people to make a fair sized audience.
The show, Awkward Jokesmith, was billed as being a work in progress, with extracts from his Edinburgh show of last year. This suited me, as I really enjoyed Older than the Oldest dog that ever lived and so to see sections of this supporting newer material sounded really promising. At the beginning of the show, probably within the first minute, Brush had to deal with a chap who wanted to go and fetch a drink. Upstairs, only a fool or an attention seeker would interrupt Vegas, but Brush, who hasn’t that force of personality (who has, apart from possibly Ian Cognito?) had to maintain his authority and not allow his show to become derailed by people wandering in and out at will. I’ve never seen him have to deal with a member of the audience who wasn’t sat listening before, but he dealt with him efficiently and gained a nice laugh for it. As disruption goes, this was pretty minor and it was all friendly enough.
Brush is a low energy performer, who uses intelligent, well crafted material. The joy isn’t so much in the delivery, which is perfectly fine and suits his material, but in the actual material itself. Brush doesn’t explain his reveals and references, he wisely lets the audience think for themselves. The joke about the spider being a great example of the audience twigging on in their own time as the more astute members got it a bit more swiftly than the rest. When one has to do a bit of mental work to get jokes and tie ins, it makes them feel more appreciable than any cheap knob gag ever can. The show contained new material in the middle, being bookended by established material either side. This worked very well. The established sections went nicely and gained good laughs, especially my personal favourite, the tale of his trouble finding a barber. This routine is a real stand out in what is a lovely show. The new material was well received with almost everything showing promise. For this, Brush did have to refer to his notes a few times, but with new material in a show billed as containing such, this was far from a problem.
We all had a great night and he is without a doubt on my list of people to see in Edinburgh.