End of month review – April

This has been something of a quiet month for comedy, as my shift pattern has conflicted with my attendance at gigs. As a result of which I have only managed 23 individual reviews. These have ranged from Alun Cochrane to open mics and have covered everything in between.

These are the comedians who have impressed me the most this month:

John Robertson

This was a true tour de force.

Review from the night:

I’d seen Robertson a couple of years before I began reviewing, and so I knew something of what to expect. That had been at Calverton, just a few miles down the road and he had totally smashed the room, making it impossible for the next act to follow and I mean this literally, the next act died, having spent half of his time trying to explain that he wasn’t going to stand on a chair, or run around the room. That night, Robertson had a leather jacket on and with his Australian accent, gave me the sense of Mad Max let loose and doing comedy. Tonight he was in a red suit and had long flowing blonde hair. This made him look something like a late 1980’s Bond villain. I liked this look. It was also responsible for him being heckled as he made his way to the stage. Some comedians can be heckled – Robertson is not one of them. He returned the heckle with a cracking reference to Bad Manners that landed well considering that that band were probably never that big in Southwell. As soon as Robertson got on the stage, he just put the microphone to one side and announced it wasn’t as if he needed it and he was right. I’m not sure what his normal conversational level is, but tonight his voice seemed turned up to 11. The only other act I’ve seen pull that off is Ian Cognito and it worked equally well for Robertson. He ad-libbed his way through 25 minutes that seemed to pass very swiftly. There were no awkward pauses whilst he tried to think of something to say, he generated material from the most unlikely places and was evidently very fast on his feet, mentally. His set went extremely well. He is the only comedian I’ve seen take someone’s pint hostage, whilst he ribbed the audience. The room had a fantastic time and he was awesomely impressive.

Peter White

On the same night as Robertson was Peter White, which meant that we had begun the show with a master class in improvising a set and concluded with a wonderful tightly written set. This was a splendid set and one that made 20 minutes seem all too short a slot. Review from the night:

The headliner was Peter White, with his nicely distinctive Nova Scotian accent. White gave the audience a demonstration of what a well thought out, intelligent and tightly constructed set was. He began by discussing his experiences as a heterosexual chap drinking in a gay bar and being propositioned and in the process possibly enunciated the most logical argument against this element of homophobia that I have heard in a long time. This was also incredibly funny. He then moved on to discussing being brought up in a small town environment – this gained him a shout out from a well lubricated lady in the audience and he fielded it deftly. Five minutes later, she interrupted again and he silenced her effectively, but somewhat inelegantly, which he did apologise for twice during his set. White recovered well from this and completed his set with a tale about open toed sandals, which made a very true point about the pronunciational difficulties of flip flop and then a nice twist on the who would you take on a desert island question. White’s set flowed very nicely and he gained strong laughs. I especially enjoyed the craftsmanship evident in the set. A well written set is a joy to see.

Mike Bubbins

This was another great set and one where the performance really added to the material and helped to push it that bit further. Review from the night:

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.

Barry Dodds

This was just a short set at Spiky Mike’s birthday party and it was amazing what he could do within his allotted 5 minutes. Review from the night:

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.

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