Tonight, on a horrible wet night, I was in the Nottingham Glee Club. Owing to the final admittance being at 1930, it was strangely a push to get there on time, especially as I wanted to watch the end of the Professionals before I did the washing up and got ready. I can understand the financial logic of having people in the club early, but I’m rather glad I took a book with me to help kill the 30 minutes before show time. The crowd were of mixed ages, but with the majority young enough to be going on elsewhere after the show. Initially the atmosphere was a bit like a school canteen on the last day of term, with lots of chatter and things being dropped on the floor. I’ve not been to the Glee Club for a while, due to a clash with my personal diary, but I often look at the bills and see much to admire. Tonight, our compere was Alex Boardman.
Boardman had a night of two halves. During his initial section, he was competent, but did tick a lot of boxes on the standard weekend club compere bingo list: he discovered the stag and hen parties, made the obligatory comments about how they could have gone somewhere exotic, but instead came here, he identified the trophy wife and so on. Although this was all pretty standard stuff, it went down well with the crowd and he received decent laughs for it. He did show more sharpness in how he dealt with a heckle he received within the first 20 seconds and to me, this hinted that he had a lot more to offer than he had really needed to use so far. During his second session, Boardman really showed his ability when he improvised and bantered with the room for a good 7-8 minutes, living off of his wits. Whilst his first session had been competent, this session was inspired. He dropped out some lovely lines and engaged in a lot of quick fire responses. I thoroughly enjoyed this and his rendering of the DWP as an enforcement agency was a real stand out. His final section was a bit more rowdy due to the amount of alcohol imbibed by the audience, but he kept the room in order and set things up well, although part of his 3some gag did share a passing similarity to Mickey Sharma’s early joke. I enjoyed Boardman and felt that his work during the second session showed that he has a lot of ability.
The opening act was Mickey Sharma who I last saw only 200yds from where I was sat tonight. This was his Edinburgh Preview in the Canal House. Tonight Sharma gave the room a well pitched performance that judged the mood and expectations of the audience well. He had some good physical additions to his set, where he demonstrated national sexual mores through dance and a club version of Twinkle twinkle little Star, which both went down very well. I personally preferred his jokes about assimilation, as these were more subtle, although whilst there was nothing subtle about his section on Taliban gigs, that was also incredibly funny and well fleshed out by his actions. I did feel that tonight, Sharma was doing a set that held a broad appeal, but I suspect that if he had so wished, he could have done a wonderfully nuanced political set that would make very entertaining listening.
The middle act was Paul F Taylor, a chap who came onto the stage wearing oven gloves and dressed like a man from the 1975 Grattan’s catalogue. Two weeks ago, I had been at a show in Grantham that had been evacuated due to a fire alarm and tonight we may have skated along the edge of a repeat of that. Luckily, when the alarm sounded tonight it was swiftly silenced and Taylor was able to continue, after getting a bit of ad-libbed material out of the event. His night consisted of the splendidly creative and the over-stretching of a concept. Taylor is a comedian who could probably look at something in a totally different way to 99 other people and this is a real bonus. His material about cloakrooms and whisks was strong. His section where he played multiple incarnations of himself was even better. This was then followed by an excellent section involving a tree house and a password, with a human playing the role of the computer. This is probably the most unique way I’ve seen material about passwords dealt with and it was great. However, this notion of a human acting like a machine then became over-stretched when he essentially did four versions of the same gag. In fairness, they were all different in the specifics, but the concept and construction was the same. This did build up to a nice finale, but I think he did split the room over that section.
The closing act was Mike Bubbins who had impressed me when he performed in Southwell. If Taylor had given us what the well dressed man of 1975 was wearing, then Bubbins showed us what the well dressed man of 1975 would wear to the pub. I like it when an act has a distinctive look. It was also a good idea to have him close the show when a lot of the audience were well lubricated, as Bubbins seemed to have a natural authority that helped keep the room in check. He was however, the second comic to mention that he was married, but that his wife wasn’t present, but this didn’t slow him down at all. His section on shit town top trumps was a real winner and all the more so because he has the ability to do accents. Free cycle was given additional life by his facial expressions as he acted out his reactions to the tat that people in Barry try to palm off on folk. Perhaps the section that struck the greatest chord was about his wife giving birth (the line about his soldiering on after a minor injury, acted out, natch, was wonderful). The only dip in a strong performance was paradoxically the section I found the most interesting: his talk about 1970s telly, a long dead era to 90% of the audience. I’m a fan of The Professionals and his Lewis Collins facts were quite fascinating, however, they did rob him of momentum and the jokes were too spread out to really make up for this. Following this with a similar treatment for James Garner sadly only really exacerbated this, although he did recover well. Despite this slowing down, Bubbins had a very good night and I really enjoyed seeing him again. He is an act I’d like to see more of. His material is good and he really sells it.