The main event of the evening was Spiky Mike’s birthday party, held at the Navigation in Nottingham. I had cut short the NCF gig to get to this, with my plus one, on time for 2130. As it happened, the party began at 2215, but that wasn’t the end of the world. As Mike had invited friends from both the music and comedy industries, it was interesting playing guess who belonged to which world. I know that comedy is called the new rock n’ roll, but musical peeps don’t half stand out a lot more in how they dress than comics. For the first section, I was sat next to the buffet which was a bonus – I can’t remember the last time I had so many Cadbury’s fingers in one go. The cake itself was very nice to see. It had been baked by Jo and was in the shape of a guitar. The party was held in the Navigation’s function room, which was upstairs, whilst a band played below and there was what can only be described as ruddy HORRIBLE noise bleed from down there. The night was hosted by Brian Damage and Krysstal.
The format of the party was that it was a combined party and gig. Brian Damage and Krysstal acted as hosts and comperes, warming the room up, doing material between acts, who were all doing 5 minutes each. In this, they tried to time it so their sections coincided with the band playing below and the comedians would be able to do their sets whilst the band had a rest. They were pretty successful in this and it was a great help considering that the noise below was such that the band may as well have been playing in the room itself. They opened with a wonderfully timely reference to everyone famous dying, but Spiky Mike being alive still, which set the tone for the night. Their routines were musical in nature, but taken a lot further by Krysstal’s facial expressions and the asides between the songs. The songs were good and included one sung in an Argentinian accent and one in a Lancashire accent, which worked very well. I especially enjoyed the routine about the cat slippers; that had a lot of mirth in it.
The opening act was Andrew Bird, who opened by saying how nice it was to be playing a benefit night for Spiky Mike. This was followed by solid material on birthday cards, recycling and reduced price underwear. Photos and phones was a nice section, but the routine he ended on, video recorders, which was old material in honour of Mike, was very good indeed. Bird generated a lot of momentum very quickly, especially where his jokes had multiple reveals. He delivered his 5 minutes with vigour and was very enjoyable.
The second act was Pat Draper, who I had only seen performing an hour or so before at another gig. Previously, he had done well, but the audience had been undemonstrative, now he was with a crowd that weren’t so reticent about showing their appreciation and it made a huge difference. He began by giving Spiky Mike a shot glass full of something. He announced that according to the barman it was what all the young people were drinking, but that Mike could have it anyway. This was then followed by a short 5 minute set containing songs and nursery rhymes which went down extremely well. The new part about Prince working very well.
The next act was Barry Dodds, who had also been performing earlier. By special request he did his routine about the time he sent an email to Prince’s management, inviting him on a camping trip to the Lake District. This is a splendid routine, where the little additional details, such as the £10 behaviour bond make the difference and raise it from being merely very funny to totally splendiferous. Dodds delivered this swiftly, partly to keep within the five minute limit and partly to beat the noise from downstairs. He was talking about retiring this material now that Prince had died , but it is such a wonderful stand out piece, it would be a true shame to lose it.
The closing act was Scott Bennett, who had been gigging a fair distance away from Nottingham and so had arrived later than hoped for. He delivered a set that caught the mood of the night. He began by referencing Spiky Mike’s ability to get people to work for free, which landed very very well. This was followed by some very good stuff about a sportsman’s dinner where he had been the ‘turn’ and then some new material about a speed awareness course. I had seen that section two weeks ago and even over that short space of time it was evident that there had been improvement in how it was paced. This was a five minute set that went very quickly.
This was a lovely night, with a lot of people present and there was a lot of joy and good will in the room.