Nott’s Comedy Review – end of month review for May

This has been an excellent month for comedy. I’ve seen performances ranging from Tom Wrigglesworth’s one man show through to some very good open mic nights. In total I’ve seen 49 acts this month. These are the comedians who have impressed me the most this month, not including those who I’ve highlighted in recent months, such as Bennett and Brush, etc

Nick Page

Page is a comedian who seems to have something for everyone. He has a superb delivery and the sort of material that will make any memoir he writes a fantastic read.

From the night:

The opening act was Nick Page, who I’ve seen twice before and who was excellent each time. Tonight he made it a hat trick. He began with a small routine based around Schrodinger’s Cat, which contained not only impeccable logic, but was also a unique opening to a show. This was followed by Page explaining his approach to comedy, listing what he didn’t do. This was almost anti-comedy, but which was pushed along nicely by his quick illustrations of some of the things he wasn’t going to do. Page received his first applause break for his notions of how Scotland could be treated regarding their referendum. His comments about festival wrist bands were thoroughly enjoyable, the more so because the promoter is a fan of these. His section on planning permission was great, as was his joke about eugenics and perhaps more so as it went over a few people’s heads. None of Page’s routines failed to land and his remarks about parcel force were a particular joy. He built up such a strong picture of his travails, that it was easy to picture him in a depot 22 miles from home. Page got into his flow and moved quickly, delivering his material with the sort of intensity that made it compulsive listening for the audience. This wasn’t a set where people were looking at their phones, instead everyone was focussed upon the stage. This was an excellent set and Page is a comedian who I hope to see a lot more of.

Alfie Moore

This was a full show and was massively entertaining as well as that bit different.

From the night:

With the stage decked out like a crime scene, Moore began with some statistics. There is a one in a thousand chance of being murdered in Blighty. These odds seem fairly reassuring; however, Moore quickly punctured any sense that we may live to make investing in a lengthy box set worthwhile by pointing out the odds of Leicester winning the premiership. A very timely reference, indeed. This was followed by a quick search to see if there were any other officers of the law present. This resulted in three coming forwards. An ex policeman, a transport cop and a chap who outed himself as being in Special Branch, which gave Moore plenty of scope to raise laughs. Following this, the format of the night was explained. A murder would be committed by a member of the audience and there was a prize on offer in the shape of a rosette. This entailed a need for volunteers to play a murderer, their victim and a detective. It’s nice when a show is interactive like this, it helps the audience buy into the concept and seems to provide a lively atmosphere.

This framework gave Moore ample scope to include lots of anecdotes and facts that were related to murder. Some of my personal favourites were his account of how he resolved a murder mystery night, a great piece about Henry VIII and his wives, a brilliant true story of his encounter with a less than thoughtful chap who was carrying a huge plasma telly and the difference between American cops and HM Constabulary, when it came to surrendering ownership of an unexplained stiff. All of these were individually great pieces of material and the cumulative effect was very impressive. The laughs were consistent and flowed easily. Moore did refer to his notes a couple of times during his performance, but as this is a new show, this is very much to be expected. Again, as with most new shows, there was a technical hitch with a bit of IT. This occurred during the top 5 murder towns countdown, with the music (At the sign of the swinging cymbal) cutting out at the worst moment. However, the laugh that Moore received to his reaction to this technological treachery was very loud and did make me momentarily wonder if he had stumbled across this by accident and decided to keep it in his set. After the performance had finished, Moore stood by the door, shaking hands and thanking people for coming. This was a very pleasant and human touch and was much appreciated by the audience. This was a lovely show that is something nicely different and I’m rather hoping that he takes it up to Edinburgh.

Dan Nightingale

This was a brilliant performance that simply took the roof of the gig.

From the night:

The closing act was Dan Nightingale. I’ve seen Nightingale a couple of times before and I know he’s good. I think we all know he’s good. However, tonight he was what I can only describe as brilliant. He was the sort of good that made me wonder why on earth he isn’t better known outside the comedy circuit. He hit the ground running from the off, with various routines, all of which he delivered with dynamism and spot on timing. Almost everything hit home to a huge laugh. Nightingale generated bags of momentum, received applause breaks, had the other comedian’s laughing their heads off and just simply blew the roof off of the place. He did do a routine after what might have been considered the natural end of the set. However, this still got laughs and was funny. This was a stand out performance from someone who is a true technician of comedy.

Thomas Green

Green is comedian who I think should be able to go a long way in the industry. I must confess that I’d never heard of him until this gig and that’s surprising. He is the sort of person who should be on more people’s radar.

From the night:

The final act of the middle section was Thomas Green, who through some mystical process, managed in the time it took him to walk to the stage and grasp the microphone, to look like he was a professional who knew exactly what he was about. This may have been a confidence thing on his part, but I’m more inclined to put it down to the fact that he is very good and has a comedian’s instinct and this is what I and presumably the rest of the room were sensing. His set seemed to cover a lot of areas without either getting bogged down or making them feel inconsequential, which is a neat trick to be able to pull off. His set was very well written and it seemed to have a natural flow to it, with no jarring leaps. Despite being new to the area, he was sharp enough to know that the local rivals are Derby and to throw in a reference to sheep for the additional laugh. This was impressive and naturally went down very well. Green delivers his material with assurance and I thoroughly enjoyed it, especially his closing with a call back, which always seems to wrap things up nicely. I believe Green is certain to move up the comedy ranks quickly.

Karl White

White is a bit of an odd act, combining the strengths of a well observed character piece, but with more appeal. He easily avoids becoming a one note tune through the sheer strength of his material.

From the night:

The next act was Karl White, whose persona combines the charisma and voice of Nora Batty’s husband, Wally from Last of the Summer Wine. He plays it as a down to earth Yorkshireman, with limited horizons and reference points, using very little energy whilst he does so. Most acts try to make a big impact, White was deliberately the opposite. To do this and hold a room requires skill and to do it well requires very good writing. White had both a great paced delivery, that was totally in keeping with his persona and very well written material that kept the room’s attention. His tale of a visit to a lady was both funny and original, using totally believable phrases, and was delivered to big laughs from the audience. I enjoyed his leap from one topic to another, his use of a magnifying glass and the perfectly in character ending to his set. This was understated, but very cleverly done.

Rahul Kohli

Kohli was a very nice surprise. I especially enjoyed the intelligence behind his material and the fact that I had to think a bit about what he was saying made it all the better.

From the night:

Rahul Kohli had an excellent night. He began by asking the audience to give a round of applause to the first two acts. This is not something I’m that keen on, as I find that it just takes time up that can be used more productively. Kohli then launched into what was easily the set of the night. He used the fact that Stevie Gray carries a bag onto the stage as a way of not only introducing a nice line, but also to make it feel very much of the now and in fairness, it is possible that the applause was just a roundabout way of setting this up. From here we received a set that combined bang up to date topical references to some very astute political observations in a routine that reminded me of John Scott for its’ political incisiveness. This set was very well crafted and extremely funny. The Nandos joke was great and although it was something of a pull back and reveal, it was a genuine surprise when considered in the context of the rest of the set. His use of a ‘volunteer’ to help explain consent was very good as was his explanation of the rise of Isis through premiership football. This was a set that was extraordinarily good. I am rather hoping he is doing Edinburgh this year, as I would like to see a lot more of this comedian.

Katie Pritchard

Pritchard is perhaps an unusual act for me to highlight, as musical comedy isn’t something that I particularly enjoy. However, she is very talented and despite her style not being my cup of tea, there is no denying that she is a star of the future.

From the night:

We resumed after the intermission with Katie Pritchard, a musical act. I have to confess that I’m not a huge fan of musical acts. Music and songs are something I take little interest in and whilst the artist can be very good, the format just isn’t my cup of tea. However, whilst I may not be keen on the genre, that doesn’t mean that no one else enjoys them. A fact that was made clear by both of the musical acts on tonight’s bill. Pritchard began by enquiring about why are lettuces wrapped in plastic. Initially this sounded like an impression of someone pointing out a bad observational routine, but instead it swiftly led into her first song, all about lettuce and brassicas to the sound of ‘All the single ladies’. This went down very well with the audience and she received a lot of applause. The next song referenced Pritchard not being the tallest lady in the world, to the sound of ‘Let it go’ and again this resulted in a lot of laughs and applause. The final song was a Hip Opera, which might have been a bit too modern for the audience, but which was still appreciated all the same. Pritchard’s set was impressive for her creativity, the bags of charm with which she delivers it and also for how much the audience enjoyed it. Personally, I’d have preferred more in the way of material between the songs. Pritchard had a good night and left a nice warm impression.

Grantham – Paddy Lennox, Katie Pritchard, Peter Brush and Christian Reilly

Tonight I was in Grantham for the Funhouse comedy night. This was the first time I’d been here in daylight, which made it seem a little bit odd at first. I’d also misjudged the weather, wearing my winter coat and gloves, although if we had to evacuate due to a fire alarm, like the last time I was here (https://nottscomedyreview.wordpress.com/2016/04/01/grantham-guildhall-martin-mor-rob-coleman-marvyn-dickinson-and-bobby-mair/) then I dare say I’d feel the benefit of being wrapped up warm. The Guild Hall comedy suite is a grand room, that will easily fit 150 or so people in and it tends to sell out, or near enough to make no difference. The crowd are middle to late ages, middle class and upwards and pretty comedy literate. In a break to this demographic, we had a chap called Smudge, whom Spiky Mike began to ask what he did for a living before changing course and enquiring about his unusual nickname. This was a very wise move, as his nickname came from an unfortunate incident concerning his bowels and his trousers and he has had that name ever since -. for the last twenty years. This was a useful anecdote, that gave Mike a lot of material and his compering went very well, setting the room up nicely for the first act.

Our opening act was Paddy Lennox, whom I had last seen in Ashby, where he had had a nice night. Tonight he began with a call back to the compering, which landed nicely and he then began some room work, asking if it was the Grantham AGM. Keeping it light and personable, Lennox seemed to gain the confidence of the room very swiftly. He then asked if there was anyone in from Ireland to which no one said anything. He expressed his surprise at 150 people and no one from Ireland. A moment later, a lady announced that she was from Belfast, which gave him the chance to make a lovely remark about the conversation being by satellite link. The lady was a trifle muddled, which gave him a lot of scope for improvising on his side of the conversation. Lennox then went into a bit of material about his home town, before going back to room work, chatting to a Brazilian chap, who had been fired from work that day. This could have been a real mood hoover, but Lennox’s impressive quick thinking kept his set on course. His material on pelvic floors was well delivered, but definitely landed better with the ladies of the room. This was a bonus length opening performance, that to me felt a bit disjointed. Lennox possibly had a 40-60 split between bantering with the room and material, but as his material was interspersed with room work there wasn’t really a feeling of a structured set. Instead, it was more like watching a very good compere who is using his spot to work in some material. This isn’t to say he was ever anything less than entertaining, because he wasn’t. Lennox was very funny and very enjoyable and was certainly appreciated by the audience, but it still did feel a bit disjointed.

We resumed after the intermission with Katie Pritchard, a musical act. I have to confess that I’m not a huge fan of musical acts. Music and songs are something I take little interest in and whilst the artist can be very good, the format just isn’t my cup of tea. However, whilst I may not be keen on the genre, that doesn’t mean that no one else enjoys them. A fact that was made clear by both of the musical acts on tonight’s bill. Pritchard began by enquiring about why are lettuces wrapped in plastic. Initially this sounded like an impression of someone pointing out a bad observational routine, but instead it swiftly led into her first song, all about lettuce and brassicas to the sound of ‘All the single ladies’. This went down very well with the audience and she received a lot of applause. The next song referenced Pritchard not being the tallest lady in the world, to the sound of ‘Let it go’ and again this resulted in a lot of laughs and applause. The final song was a Hip Opera, which might have been a bit too modern for the audience, but which was still appreciated all the same. Pritchard’s set was impressive for her creativity, the bags of charm with which she delivers it and also for how much the audience enjoyed it. Personally, I’d have preferred more in the way of material between the songs. Pritchard had a good night and left a nice warm impression.

Next was Peter Brush, a quality act that I have a lot of time for. Although he has a low energy delivery, he had the entire room listening to him within 30 seconds of him grasping the microphone and received his first big laugh within 45 seconds. Tonight his topics included health, monopoly, relationships, finding his way home, Christmas cards and presents and goldfish. It was impressive for how well written it was and also for the originality it exhibited. The room rewarded this well crafted set with a lot of big laughs and 2, nearly 3, applause breaks. Brush is a comedian who will go far.

The headliner was Christian Reilly, an act I’ve heard on the wireless, but hadn’t seen until now. He was our second musical act of the evening. As stated earlier, I’m not a fan of musical comedy, but luckily the rest of the audience were. Reilly began with a few guitar chords, demonstrating happy and sad through music. This was then followed by various songs. However, as my musical interest is pretty much limited to ELO, some of the references were a bit lost on me, although I got enough of the jokes to get the drift of the set. I enjoyed Reilly’s running gag about saving people money and his material between songs. These were all good. The musical jokes, weren’t to my taste, but the rest of the audience lapped them up, with Reilly getting a lot of laughter. The final song, a request from Spiky Mike, whose enthusiasm for it was contagious, concerned a zombie Jimmy Saville and this was excellent. Although this genre isn’t for me, the audience really enjoyed it and Reilly is certainly a talented act.

Il Rosso – Nick Page, Seymour Mace and Roger Monkhouse (MC)

Tonight I was at a gig in my home town. I was at FaF’ Comedy’s night at Il Rosso, which is probably two miles from my door step. This is a very nice gig, that for some reason has been intermittent, but which I’m hoping now becomes a regular fixture. It is one of those nights where the ticket price includes food. In this case tapas. I think I first heard of tapas two years ago and I wouldn’t have been able to state exactly what it consisted of. Having seen 5-6 bowls of stuff I still can’t say what it is. As I dislike eating something that I have no idea what it is or was, I cheerfully gifted mine to a friend of Stoney’s and thanked my lucky stars I’d had a good tea before I came out. By all accounts the food was great, but that’s no surprise, as Il Rosso is quite probably the most stylish pub in town. This was reflected in the amount of money invested in the place and the type of audience it had attracted. Tonight’s MC was Roger Monkhouse.

Monkhouse is a name I see on a fair few gig posters, but as these are mostly for events down South, this is actually the first time I’ve seen him. Owing to a combination of loud music and a ten minutes until show time that stretched to closer to twenty, he came out on stage to a lukewarm welcome, almost as if no one was really expecting him to appear. He made the most of this and then had a quick search in the audience for prey. He found this in the shape of a foursome sat at the front. This consisted of two striking ladies and two elder gentlemen. Monkhouse pointed out that they looked royal, in the sort of gangster fled to Spain kind of way. This received a big laugh, not least from that table and was swiftly followed by 5-6 quick comments building upon this. He returned to this table throughout the night, which gave a nice sense of continuity to his compering and as he easily stayed on the right side of any line, so this never felt like they were being picked on. He asked if anyone was local, then if anyone was from outside Mansfield, passing the local geography test, by stating that Sutton was part of Mansfield when someone shouted their location. There was a minor dip during the set up, when Monkhouse went into some material on global warming, but this somewhat grim set up was worth it for the reveal. His routine about pedo certificates was great and landed well and I enjoyed how swiftly and funnily he disposed of people whom he resembles, as during the last few weeks I feel as if I’ve heard 7-8 comedians describing who they look like at great length. Monkhouse’s line about there not being a meat raffle went down a treat, as although every other pub in town seems to have one, this is definitely too classy an establishment for that. This compering was very enjoyable and also well timed. Monkhouse neither stayed on too long to the detriment of the acts, nor did he skimp on his stage time. Instead he timed it perfectly and it was a joy to see Stoney wiping tears of laughter from his eyes.

The opening act was Nick Page, who I’ve seen twice before and who was excellent each time. Tonight he made it a hat trick. He began with a small routine based around Schrodinger’s Cat, which contained not only impeccable logic, but was also a unique opening to a show. This was followed by Page explaining his approach to comedy, listing what he didn’t do. This was almost anti-comedy, but which was pushed along nicely by his quick illustrations of some of the things he wasn’t going to do. Page received his first applause break for his notions of how Scotland could be treated regarding their referendum. His comments about festival wrist bands were thoroughly enjoyable, the more so because the promoter is a fan of these. His section on planning permission was great, as was his joke about eugenics and perhaps more so as it went over a few people’s heads. None of Page’s routines failed to land and his remarks about parcel force were a particular joy. He built up such a strong picture of his travails, that it was easy to picture him in a depot 22 miles from home. Page got into his flow and moved quickly, delivering his material with the sort of intensity that made it compulsive listening for the audience. This wasn’t a set where people were looking at their phones, instead everyone was focussed upon the stage. This was an excellent set and Page is a comedian who I hope to see a lot more of.

The closing act was Seymour Mace, who had the room laughing, just by being stood on stage at the start of his set. Mace has a unique look, with silver shoes and the sort of suit that makes him look like a spiv selling knocked off ration cards during the war. Mace’s material covered a lot of ground and combined the fantastic with the down at home, often both within the same sentence. From speed walking, to owls, Scooby Doo and disappearing shit, this was a set that was performed, rather than delivered. Mace made full use of the sizeable stage to alternatively dance, prance and sing his way through his set. This was a high energy performance that made the most of his surreal material. I enjoyed his very timely reference to Elton John, the song about 70’s celebrities and thought that his closing routine as a backing singer made for a wonderful end to the night.

The Navigation – Scott Bennett, Lucy Thompson, Thomas Green, Dan Nightingale and Fran Jenking (MC)

Tonight I was at the Navigation in Nottingham for the first of what I hope will be regular Funhouse gigs there. Last night I was in Ashby, which seemed a long way away, but ironically, the short journey into Nottingham was far more troublesome and I was extremely glad to get out of my car. It seemed that almost every motorist in town was driving as if they had been watching Death Race 2000 and had mistaken it for some kind of tutorial. As it was, I arrived early enough to see the room being set up, with a disparate collection of chairs laid out. I’ve only been to the Navigation twice. Once for Spiky Mike’s birthday party and once to see Paul Kerensa during the Nottingham Comedy Festival. Both times there was horrible noise bleed from downstairs. I noticed a sign announcing a live band playing tonight and just hoped it was a quiet band. Our MC for the night was Mr Fran Jenking.

Jenking is a very enjoyable compere. He has a natural talent for speaking to people and finding a conversation point. He is totally disarming in his manner and people always respond well to him. Tonight he did the rules, kept the breaks to reasonable lengths and provided good solid value as a compere, without going overboard and making the night all about him. He began with room work, found a clapper, chatted to a few folks. The second session he mixed a tiny bit of material in and then for the final outing, he used a bit more material, but not in a way obvious to the audience. He was fun to watch and was perfectly professional in how he approached it.

The opening act was Scott Bennett, who I only saw a week ago. However, it’s interesting to see just how much improvement a skilled comedian can achieve in a week. Bennett began by doing a spot of room work, which made me wonder why I’ve not seen him MC. This was followed by his material on speed awareness courses, with an improved line about a lorry driver. The set then went through child birth, chaise longue, kids telly, Postman Pat, swimming and a teddy bear. This was delivered to big, big laughs and Bennett generated no end of impetus. This is a man who not only has a great eye for a turn of phrase, but he also knows just how to pitch it. There was a brief stumble over a line, but as this is new material and wasn’t being delivered from a clipboard or anything, so this is eminently forgivable and it was covered very well. This was an excellent set.

The first act of the middle section was Lucy Thompson. I like what Thompson has to offer and she has honed her set since I last saw her a some months ago. She opened with a nice line and then went on to discuss a few recent gigs that have been weird, before discussing her ambition when she was four years old, holidays in China, family weddings and living in Leicester at the moment – a very timely piece of material that landed beautifully and perhaps should have had an applause break. She delivered this set with personality and gave the room a very nice 10 minutes of fun. Tonight it felt as if she has really come on as a comedian since I saw her last.

The next act of the middle section was Thomas Green, an act who I think has a lot to offer. He mixes strong material that audiences relate to, with a notable presence and a delivery that combines enough acting to really bring his set to life. Tonight he demonstrated a few changes to the material I’ve seen him use, including a charming story about his dad not taking a photo of his mum. Green received big laughs throughout his set and was extremely entertaining to watch.

The closing act was Dan Nightingale. I’ve seen Nightingale a couple of times before and I know he’s good. I think we all know he’s good. However, tonight he was what I can only describe as brilliant. He was the sort of good that made me wonder why on earth he isn’t better known outside the comedy circuit. He hit the ground running from the off, with various routines, all of which he delivered with dynamism and spot on timing. Almost everything hit home to a huge laugh. Nightingale generated bags of momentum, received applause breaks, had the other comedian’s laughing their heads off and just simply blew the roof off of the place. He did do a routine after what might have been considered the natural end of the set. However, this still got laughs and was funny. This was a stand out performance from someone who is a true technician of comedy.

Tonight I saw a gig that I can only describe as splendid. There were some massively strong performances, a great atmosphere and as there were only 20 plus people in the room, a great level of intimacy. This cost me a fiver and I’ll be smiling for the next few days and perhaps weeks as I remember the various routines. On the way home I couldn’t help but wonder why more people don’t come out and watch live comedy.

Ashby – Comedian of the Year heat – Joe Bromehead, Jim Bayes, Josh Pugh, Adam Rowe, Michael Dryburgh, Jo D’Arcy, Thomas Rackham, Dimitri Bakanov, Ben Powell and Eddie Fortune

Tonight I was in Ashby de la Zouch for another English Comedian of the Year heat. These are great shows and I really wish they could be scheduled around my shift pattern. As before, this was a Funhouse gig, but unfortunately due to 240,000 people being in Leicester to celebrate their premiership triumph, numbers were lower than I expected for this room. We were left with a smaller, but still very well disposed crowd, including a few who had travelled from Derby to see the gig. In a replay of the last heat I saw, the actual number of votes some acts didn’t receive was totally out of proportion to the fun and laughter that they had given the room. 7 minutes to perform in still seems a bit neither one nor t’other, though. Spiky Mike had a nice night, finding three bus drivers present and then pointing out that you do a load of gigs without a bus driver and then…. however, the real joy was from where he said that a bloke looked more hard than soft, then to the laughter at this double-entendre, he pointed out that in the lighting all he could see was the head. He got a bonus laugh for his next comment, to a joiner, about his favourite type of wood. This nicely prepared the room for our first act.

Joe Bromehead, possibly the most experienced of the acts, opened. I think he took a definite bullet in going on first. The last time I’d seen Bromehead perform was at Jongleurs were he had fun with two stag parties. Tonight was a very different crowd to that. He opened well with a fun line about his physique and a ladies response in a nightclub and his comeback. The room teetered on an applause break for this, which was great. He followed with an endearing story about his daughter doing her best to evade bed time and then a wonderful routine about watching porn. All of these went down well and it was a strong performance.

Jim Bayes, who I’d only ever seen MC until tonight was next up. He made a lively and enthusiastic entrant. His compering skills shone out in his set, as he made a number of call backs to Spiky Mike’s compering and engaged in a bit of room work with the audience. I think some members of the audience got to the reveal about the ambulance before him, but this didn’t affect the number of people laughing at it. Some of his puns were of the kind that are so bad that they become brilliant, especially the console gag. These got big laughs. I thought that a couple of his jokes were a bit dark for the audience and his spot in the running order. He was definitely an act who would have benefited from having gone on later. As it was, he was one of those acts for whom the votes didn’t reflect the amount of fun they had given. Bayes also writes a very entertaining blog that can be found here: http://jimbayes.blogspot.co.uk/?m=1

The impressive Josh Pugh closed the first section. He’s an act that I’ve seen a lot of recently and the more I see of him the more I like him. On past experience I had him down as a favourite to go through. He received an applause break for To Lets, which was an ideal start. The multiple reveals on his jogging routine each received a bigger laugh than the previous one, which meant that he really built a lot of momentum. One of the things I enjoy about Pugh is that no one in the room will guess any of his punchlines. This is an artist whose mind doesn’t so much as think around corners, but thinks in something way more complex and with crowd pleasing results. It could be said that going on third is a good slot and this is true, but it was all down to Pugh’s outstanding performance that he got voted through in first place by a landslide.

Adam Rowe, who looks a good ten years younger than in his pictures, opened the second session. He’s an act who I’ve not seen in almost a year, but who has a good vibe about him, so it was going to be interesting to see how he did. The answer in short, was very well. I’ve seen him three times and he has been better every time and it is no surprise that he’s on his way up in the world. His material was strong, containing some lovely phrases and his closing routine was a real belter, although my personal favourite was the dieting routine. Rowe is very good with accents and this gave his delivery added strength. It wasn’t a big surprise to see him voted through to the next round.

Mike Dryburgh was next and he had a bit of a strange night. Unusually, the audience didn’t seem to warm to him straight away. This is a bit odd, as he’s a pleasant chap and most rooms seem to pick up on this. Tonight it seemed that he had to work harder than anyone else to convince the audience of his credentials. Definitely unexpected. His opening line about his ex girlfriend, which is a great line, definitely deserved more. His material was well written, with some very nice improvements and some lovely lines, such as four modes and adopted. I enjoyed his performance, although his delivery did seem a touch more hesitant than usual. After the first few minutes, he did win the room around and received some good laughs for his set.

Jo D’Arcy, who had possibly the coolest nickname at school, followed. She gave the room a charming and inclusive performance that really seemed to make the audience feel part of the night. It’s wonderful when an act does this. She made some great references to the youngest people in the room and then discussed boob bookmarks, which struck a chord with a few of the ladies present. She closed with a standout routine in Spanish, that I thoroughly enjoyed. I was surprised when she didn’t make it through to the next round. D’Arcy is certainly someone who has a bright future in comedy.

Thomas Rackham closed the middle section. He hit the ground running and generated laughs quickly and consistently. His delivery was nice and low energy, which was a contrast to some of the previous acts and at times he seemed to echo Alun Cochrane in having a light but engaging manner – this is no mean feat in itself. He was an act that the room warmed to swiftly and he went down very well. This made it all the more surprising when, as with other acts, the number of votes cast did not reflect the entertainment received.

The final section was opened by Dimitri Bakanov, who gave us possibly the most intelligently written set of the night. He is of mixed Russo-Ukrainian heritage and his material reflected his international outlook. However, this was far removed from the outsider looking in type of material that a few acts favour. Instead it was tightly written, a little bit dark in places and contained some excellent lines. This was delivered well and with a big knowing grin. This is an act whom I would like to see more of.

Ben Powell had a very good night. He opened with a lookalike reference and whilst he is the third comedian to do so in 6 days, his carried more weight through the added element of being a squashed down lookalike. His school reunion joke was a trifle obvious, but the looked real reveal more than made up for that. His section about farts was well received and he ended on a very nice call back. This was a good set and he made it through to the next round.

The closing act was Eddie Fortune, who began with a tuneful hello. Most of his set consisted of a monologue: An Ode to Women. This was delivered with some verve and hit home with a lot of the ladies of the room, some of whom were sat fanning themselves. I thought that his line about Russian Dolls had a touch of genius about it. However, some of the ode was a bit more creative than funny and the laughter quotient wasn’t perhaps high enough for it to carry a seven minute set. That said, he received good laughs and gave the room an enjoyable time.

NCF Canal House – Steve Bugeja, Pete Allen, Will Collishaw, Katie Mitchell, Danny Clives, Houssem Rhaiem, Josh Pugh and Thomas Rackham (MC)

Tonight I was at the Canal House in Nottingham for the NCF £1 night. As I’ve said often enough, this is my favourite gig. There is always a good variety in the style of the acts and the level varies from people perhaps on their first or second gig to established comedians doing Edinburgh previews. The numbers weren’t great tonight, but it did fill up a bit as we went along. There was also some free biscuits, which was rather nice. Our MC was Mr Thomas Rackham.

It’s always pleasant to see Rackham, although it has been a while since I’ve seen him filling the compere slot. Tonight he did well, being affable, remembering people’s names, pronouncing Bugeja and Rhaiem correctly and building some enthusiasm in a room that does have a tendency to be reserved. Rackham wandered into the audience with a plate of biscuits in hand, offering them out. One chap announced that he preferred oat based biscuits and knowing that Tom has some very good oat based material I did wonder whether he would use the reference as a segue into it. As it was a bit early in the night, he was probably right to resist this temptation. His room work was good and he picked well in the people he chose to speak to, gaining laughs. The layout of the room made it easy for him to get a cheering contest going between the two halves, although I couldn’t help but think that Sam and the Gobshites sounded a lot like a student punk band. Rackham kept his compering subtle and laid back and in no small way helped form the crowd into an audience.

Our opening act was Steve Bugeja, who I last saw in this very room doing his Edinburgh Preview. Tonight he was trying new material and it says a lot about this night that NCF are able to attract people of his standing, especially when he isn’t local. He began with a call back to Rackham’s compering, which posed Sam, an audience member, with a question he may have been able to handle sober, but which tonight seemed a bit much. From this he went into his recent work in an advert, delivering the less than flattering role description with some relish and embarrassment. This was then followed with the incredible truth of the Russian version of the same advert. Hen do’s and stripping were good and contained a lovely name for a club. His section on having a lazy eye and passport control was very good, but his section on adrenalin was perhaps the stand out, even including a slip of the tongue that he wisely went with. Bugeja’s delivery is understated and this reflects his geeky persona and together with his material, this helps make him something rather delightful. This was new material being polished and it is already very good.

Pete Allen followed. He began by referencing his less than youthful appearance, which was ok, but slightly conventional. He then went into a short set that could be split into two halves, one being based around an Office of National Statistics report and the other on the likely Boris/Trump match up. This latter section contained a nice line about the Presidential bar being set low. I felt that some of his references may not have been fully appreciated by the audience, but would have appealed to anyone who listens to Radio 4, or reads Private Eye. Allen did have a brief stumble over his lines at one point, but calmly reset and carried on. My overall feeling was that he has the skeleton of a decent set here, but it will require a little bit more work, which for a new material night isn’t a detriment.

Will Collishaw opened after the first intermission. I last saw him a year ago, on what was the hottest day of 2015. In the space of a year he has improved and his delivery is now sharper than what it was. Tonight he opened with a very nice ad-libbed call back to a conversation our MC, Rackham, had had with an audience member prior. This ensured that he began with a laugh. Collishaw, who was dressed rather smartly, had brought a small collection of props with him: soppy hat, easel and paper, plus an empty pizza box. The easel and paper were for a laughter graph, which was a nice way of getting the audience involved with his set. The hat was used to set up a small section on his various lookalikes, making him the second comedian in two nights to list the names he’s been called. As happened last night, this resulted in laughs. Personally, I think it is an overused idea, but audiences like it. His material about his dad would benefit from a bigger ending, but his stand out routine, is the mugging. This again brings the audience into it and the interaction helped bring his set to life. Collishaw had a good night tonight. His partner, Betty, was present, but unfortunately not also gigging, which was a shame.

Katie Mitchell was next. Mitchell is a pretty new act who had a bit of a mixed night. At the moment, she is going through exam season and the trouble of having three exams this week had affected her preparation; the result being that she stumbled over her words three times. In all credit, she kept calm and this passed off well. The same could be said for Elliott inadvertently interrupting her set by skipping. She began with her strongest material, which was about giving blood and contained a great line about the colour of her blood and her Gothness. I enjoyed her section on drag queens and felt that with a bit more work that could be even better. The story at the end was ok, but perhaps takes up more time than the return warrants. Mitchell has a decent presence and amount of charm and could perhaps improve her set by saving the blood section for closing with.

Danny Clives closed the middle section, beginning with some established material and then trialling some new stuff. I’ve seen Clives 3-4 times, mostly at gong shows, which is a format that doesn’t really suit his anti-comedy act. Tonight the ambiance was more suited to this and Clives had a nice night. He began with a good opening line about a football dream. I especially enjoyed his shy people question and this received two laughs. One from the people who got the joke straight away and then a second one from people who took a little bit longer to get the joke. His poem was good and when he announced the name of it, he received an even bigger laugh. The new material was a little bit more mixed, but that is par for the course with new material. His line about nectar points was the best of his new material. Clives had a good night.

The final section began with Houssem Rhaiem, an act I’ve only ever seen at gong shows. Tonight he made me wonder how come I’ve not seen him win a gong show, as he gave the room a very good time. The PC casino was good, his joke about a nurse also good, with the second reveal being particularly fun. I did think his diabetic section needed more; however, Muslim porn was a definite winner in his set and it is the first time I’ve heard anyone do anything with this topic. He would benefit from a strong closing routine, though. Rhaiem’s delivery was quiet and conversational and he held the room well.

The closing act was Josh Pugh, who was doing new material. Pugh is very much a rising star and his facebook feed is always fun to read. Tonight he tried some new ideas. The chip pan was good, the Rocky joke was also entertaining and with a bit of a tweek would be even better. I really liked his disco section and how he brings it to life. However, his celeb event material is really good and with the right development will become an excellent routine. The sort of routine that an entire set or show could be built around. He is most definitely onto something very good with this. I enjoyed his set and Pugh closed off what had been a lovely night.

Admiral Rodney (Wollaton) – Will Hutchby, Karl White, Neil Irving, Jim Daly, Thomas Green, Barry Dodds and Fran Jenking (MC)

Tonight I was at the Admiral Rodney in Wollaton, a gig that may be in danger of outgrowing the space. The snug around the performance area is very small and was quickly filled and tonight the tap room seemed to be equally full. This was pleasant to find. It’s great to see comedy attracting good numbers, especially on a night when the weather is miserable. On the other hand, the bar could benefit from more experience in keeping the noise down, as although the bandit was turned off, the phone rang a couple of times (hard to avoid), the bar on the comedy side of the pub was kept open, bottles were dropped into a bottle bin, cutlery was rattled and the music in the lounge was a bit too loud. Having said that, the atmosphere most certainly remained cordial and buoyant throughout.

Our MC was Fran Jenking, who chatted amiably with the audience, asking people about holidays, which is a welcome departure from most compere’s obsession with occupations. He had some fun with this and gained laughs, before using his local knowledge to his advantage and stepping up a gear. His approach was low key, which in a small room is ideal; this wasn’t an audience that would have wanted to be shouted at from 3′ away. Later he had a bit of luck with finding a magician in the audience and bantering with him to good laughs. Fran was a bit unlucky in one of his choices for clapper. He picked a chap called Woody, who seemed to be suffering the effects of ale and who unbelievably took one telephone call after Fran had done the rules and then left his phone on loud, so it was noticeable when it rang for a second time. This was swiftly followed by him dropping and smashing a glass during the first comedian’s set. Fortuitously he left after the first session, giving Fran the chance to ask the magician if he had magicked him away. Jenking had a good night tonight and kept things moving nicely.

The opening act was Will Hutchby, who left me with mixed feelings. On the debit side, some of his material was a bit hack. Telling an audience he has a girlfriend and then acting like it is a shock, listing heckles received over his appearance and giving away the ending of the 6th Sense are all things that have been done before by many comedians. In fairness, Hutchby did get laughs for this, but to me, they are overused. On the positive side, he did inject a fair bit of energy into the room through his performance and he held the room nicely. The Star Wars audition was good, Scouse Darth Vader was interesting, albeit I have seen something similar on youtube. However, his kill the Brownies line was a definite highlight to his set and very funny. During his set, Woody managed to smash a glass, but this didn’t put Hutchby off, he carried on without getting distracted.

The next act was Karl White, whose persona combines the charisma and voice of Nora Batty’s husband, Wally from Last of the Summer Wine. He plays it as a down to earth Yorkshireman, with limited horizons and reference points, using very little energy whilst he does so. Most acts try to make a big impact, White was deliberately the opposite. To do this and hold a room requires skill and to do it well requires very good writing. White had both a great paced delivery, that was totally in keeping with his persona and very well written material that kept the room’s attention. His tale of a visit to a lady was both funny and original, using totally believable phrases, and was delivered to big laughs from the audience. I enjoyed his leap from one topic to another, his use of a magnifying glass and the perfectly in character ending to his set. This was understated, but very cleverly done.

After the first intermission we resumed with Neil Irving, who had a set of two halves. He began with material based around work, which was decent, but could just do with a little bit more of a spark to raise it beyond that. I found the second half of his set to be the stronger side. His material on sex toys, with sound effects, puzzled expressions, call back to plumbing and the line about high pitched farts was good and seemed to catch the mood of the room better than his first section. I enjoyed how he acted out the beads on stage and this seemed to strike a chord with the audience.

Jim Daly, who I last saw in Loughborough, was next. He made a nice start with a quick joke and hit the ground running, ignoring the rattle of cutlery or whatever it was and the sounds of Up town girl that were coming from the bar. I liked his work on fraping and felt that his snapchat reveal deserved more, but as it was a visual gag, I think a few people missed it, which may explain why it didn’t get the response it merited. He did seem to lose a bit of momentum when he got to his routine about vegetarianism, but he picked it back up again. I’m not a huge fan of songs in comedy, so didn’t enjoy his closing routine, which was a (w)rap, as I felt it disproportionately light on laughs for the time it took out of his set. However, the room enjoyed it. He didn’t have a bad night, he received consistent laughs.

The final act of the middle section was Thomas Green, who through some mystical process, managed in the time it took him to walk to the stage and grasp the microphone, to look like he was a professional who knew exactly what he was about. This may have been a confidence thing on his part, but I’m more inclined to put it down to the fact that he is very good and has a comedian’s instinct and this is what I and presumably the rest of the room were sensing. His set seemed to cover a lot of areas without either getting bogged down or making them feel inconsequential, which is a neat trick to be able to pull off. His set was very well written and it seemed to have a natural flow to it, with no jarring leaps. Despite being new to the area, he was sharp enough to know that the local rivals are Derby and to throw in a reference to sheep for the additional laugh. This was impressive and naturally went down very well. Green delivers his material with assurance and I thoroughly enjoyed it, especially his closing with a call back, which always seems to wrap things up nicely. I believe Green is certain to move up the comedy ranks quickly.

The headlining act was Barry Dodds, who had a fantastic night. Before he took to the stage, the audience seemed to be a bit noisy, but following Jenking’s compering they swiftly settled back down. He began well, using his local knowledge to tie bits of his set in, all to great laughs. Dodds was then granted a gift when the lights all turned themselves on and then off. This allowed him to launch into his material about Yorkshire poltergeists and following the incident with the lights, this felt extremely natural and went down a storm, getting massive laughs. Geordies in Space gained an applause break and I felt his silly sausage line a wonderful juxtaposition to the C-bomb and very funny. There was some great improv concerning a shooting in the set up to his closing routine. This was a set that generated loads of momentum, was delivered extremely well and gained huge laughs.

NCF – Bean Caffe – James Cook, Scott Bennett

This afternoon I was in Derby for the final day of the comedy festival. The venue was the Bean Caffe (I still think that’s a silly spelling) and the promoter was NCF. Originally I was to be going to the Blessington Carriage for the Funhouse all-dayer, albeit only to see two shows before going to the Bean Caffe, but the all-dayer was unfortunately cancelled. When I got into my car the thermometer said it was 29 degrees. I still work in Fahrenheit and I’ve no idea what it translates to, but it was bloody hot all the same. The first song on the iPod shuffle was The Kinks and Sunny Afternoon, which was certainly apt. Luckily it didn’t take long to get to Derby and I was there in time for the first show, which was Mr James Cook.

I wasn’t originally scheduled to see Cook’s show. Instead, I was hoping to see Brennan Reece, but even before the all-dayer was cancelled, I had rejigged so my day would run thus: Caimh McDonnell, James Cook, Scott Bennett, tea, write up reviews then mow lawns. I changed it to include Cook for two reasons. One, I’ve seen him before, where he proved to be the most delightfully sarcastic MC I’ve yet seen. This performance was mightily impressive. The second reason is that although I’ve not played a board game in 20 years, the premise of this show, entitled Always be Rolling, sounded nicely different and also intriguing.

This was a show that made good use of visuals and audience interaction; to the extent that every member was given a ‘I think you’ll find….’ card, to indulge the pedantry that is latent in board game players. I can imagine that rule lawyers are to board gaming what Grammar Nazis are to online discussion groups. These cards were used fairly often during the show and made it feel very inclusive, as well as saving Cook from 5-6 conversations with people at the end. He began in gaming tradition by having to roll a 6 to start. In a probability defying display of recalcitrant dice, he had to go through 15 audience attempts before someone rolling a 6. This was then followed by a presentation and dance, which for some reason, seemed to remind me a bit of Kenny Everett. This set the scene for the next hour, where he went through a number of board games.

He began with the common ones that everyone has played and which are probably in most lofts, Snakes and Ladders (with great Phantom Menace tie in), Buckaroo and then Monopoly, which is a game as ubiquitous as it is argument inducing. Buckaroo involved a live action reconstruction, which was fun, but could have benefited a bit from a few more items. Owing to the omni-presence of Wil Wheaton in board gaming circles, I finally gained an understanding of his appearances in the Big Bang Theory, thanks to this show. Cook moved on to discuss other games, such as Guess Who, Scrabble, both Brummie and Albanian, before talking about games that are less well known. These were mostly German games, with highly questionable packaging, the sort of packaging that induces a yawn rather than excitement. These proved to be not only interesting, but also just as funny a territory as the well known games. Cook recounted his experiences at a gaming expo and I felt his line about his placement out of 7 billion should have had applause. The finale was a live action Hungry Hippo, which was a fitting climax to the show.

Cook kept the tone affable and light, which made the topic easy to grasp to novices. The visuals were great, with each picture adding something to the mix and visual gags being a-plenty. I especially liked the visual jokes that appeared after the show had concluded, almost as a Ps and then a Pps. The show contained the unlikely combination of Nazis, Ron Jeremy, a photo-bombing sheep and The Hoff, which is an eclectic mix. It was well paced and delivered confidently and proved to be a most enjoyable hour.

The next performer was Scott Bennett, who was running through some work in progress in preparation for the Edinburgh Festival of 2017. I’ve seen a lot of Bennett recently, but he is definitely an act who can be watched often. I really enjoy the relatability of his material and above all, his delivery. This is a comedian who is a rock solid act. Today he was working off of a clipboard, which reminded me a tad of Dennis Norden and just to save anyone checking in this year of celeb deaths, yes, Norden is still alive at 94. Ironically, Bennett didn’t need the notes that much, as a lot of his material he delivered without having to check its’ placing. He began by playing a bit of ‘shit town bingo’ where he was unlucky enough to mention a town he’d gigged in and one that he had lived in when the audience contained residents of both. This passed off to good laughs.

Bennett then entered the main body of his show, which dealt with life, stickers on fruit, a speed awareness course, babies, his family, Postman Pat and teddy bear deaths. Some of these topics have been covered before, such as speed awareness courses, but Bennett has his own unique take on them and as always with his material, he made it very relatable and entertaining. Trying for a baby, having a baby and then the impact of a baby is a staple of comedian’s of a certain age and owing to the mechanics of a baby arriving being similar for all, this can be tricky to cover without inadvertently sounding familiar to other acts. Bennett managed this by using some lovely lines, such as ‘for babies on shifts’ and ‘a wheelbarrow full of gravel’ which could only come from him and make his work on this topic fresh and enjoyable.

The difference between a set and a show is that a show has an overarching theme and comes to more of a conclusion than merely a set period of time having elapsed. The theme of this show is to do with the passing of life. This is seen through the stickers on bananas and other fruit. This is a work in progress at the moment and so this may change. Whilst a theme may please reviewers and industry people, I’m not totally convinced Bennett really needs one. What he HAS got is a show that is already funny and entertaining and given his style, to me, that is enough – I’m happy with that. Although these are fairly new ideas, this material, allied to Bennett’s ability to make it relatable and credible provides great fun.

NCF Derby – Alfie Moore – getting away with murder

Tonight I was back in Derby at the Bean Caffe (their spelling, not mine) for another NCF show at the Derby Comedy Festival. This time it was Alfie Moore’s new show, entitled: Getting away with murder. I had been eagerly anticipating this show for a couple of reasons. One, my boss, who has a big interest in crime was coming with me (many thanks to Helen and Elliott for keeping a space for him) and two, I like what Moore does. I’ve seen him a couple of times and I’ve listened to his shows on the wireless and he’s always entertaining – his previous routine about the head is a real stand out. Despite having been in the same venue last night at the same time, it still seemed odd to be watching comedy during daylight. When I was a kid, my dad had always made a big point about watching horror films late at night, even if they were on video, as he maintained that horror didn’t work during the day. I don’t think comedy exactly obeys the same rules, but daylight and comedy still doesn’t feel like a natural match.

With the stage decked out like a crime scene, Moore began with some statistics. There is a one in a thousand chance of being murdered in Blighty. These odds seem fairly reassuring; however, Moore quickly punctured any sense that we may live to make investing in a lengthy box set worthwhile by pointing out the odds of Leicester winning the premiership. A very timely reference, indeed. This was followed by a quick search to see if there were any other officers of the law present. This resulted in three coming forwards. An ex policeman, a transport cop and a chap who outed himself as being in Special Branch, which gave Moore plenty of scope to raise laughs. Following this, the format of the night was explained. A murder would be committed by a member of the audience and there was a prize on offer in the shape of a rosette. This entailed a need for volunteers to play a murderer, their victim and a detective. It’s nice when a show is interactive like this, it helps the audience buy into the concept and seems to provide a lively atmosphere.

This framework gave Moore ample scope to include lots of anecdotes and facts that were related to murder. Some of my personal favourites were his account of how he resolved a murder mystery night, a great piece about Henry VIII and his wives, a brilliant true story of his encounter with a less than thoughtful chap who was carrying a huge plasma telly and the difference between American cops and HM Constabulary, when it came to surrendering ownership of an unexplained stiff. All of these were individually great pieces of material and the cumulative effect was very impressive. The laughs were consistent and flowed easily. Moore did refer to his notes a couple of times during his performance, but as this is a new show, this is very much to be expected. Again, as with most new shows, there was a technical hitch with a bit of IT. This occurred during the top 5 murder towns countdown, with the music (At the sign of the swinging cymbal) cutting out at the worst moment. However, the laugh that Moore received to his reaction to this technological treachery was very loud and did make me momentarily wonder if he had stumbled across this by accident and decided to keep it in his set. After the performance had finished, Moore stood by the door, shaking hands and thanking people for coming. This was a very pleasant and human touch and was much appreciated by the audience. This was a lovely show that is something nicely different and I’m rather hoping that he takes it up to Edinburgh.

NCF – Bean Caffe – Tom Wrigglesworth and Paul Tonkinson – Elliott Bower (host)

Tonight I was in Derby for NCF’s contribution to the comedy festival. Last year, this festival was something of a damp squib, with only Funhouse providing any comedy, the rest of the events seeming to be more variety than actual comedy. This year, with both Funhouse and NCF behind it, this festival has a lot more going for it. This evening, I was at NCF’s venue, the Bean Caffe, to see both Tom Wrigglesworth and Paul Tonkinson. This location seems to suffer from two things, one being next to a police station or something similar, as during the course of the night at least 5 sirens rent the air. The other issue is that I’m not totally convinced that the builders have finished with the place. What passes for a ceiling is all aluminium sheeting, with piping and cables on show and it is either a salutatory lesson of what happens when you upset the tradesmen, or if it is truly intentional, which I was reliably informed it was, then it is pretty ghastly. I think, all considered, NCF have done well to make it into a comedy venue. The room is a reasonable size, holding just north of 100 people, which was quite lucky considering the size of the audience. I did well to get a good seat before they were all gone.

Our host for the night, resplendent in a suit and looking rather dapper with it, was Elliott Bower. Whilst Helen organised the door and managed the event, Elliott was directing people into spare chairs and then getting people to move up make space, as room seemed to get short quickly. He has a nice level of authority as host and during his introduction he kept it short and sweet. He did the rules and then got a nice big round of applause for the acts. Tonight, he raised a lot of smiles by announcing that it was Tuesday and the start of the weekend. The lady sat adjacent to me commented afterwards how much he reminded her of Spiky Mike. The first act was Tom Wrigglesworth.

Wrigglesworth sold the venue out, with a crowd that had Radio 4 stamped across it (they even got the use of the word ‘effervescent’), a fact that he referenced with his opening line about how he didn’t look like this when he was on the radio. This was then followed with some laid back banter with the front row, a member of whom seemed to be having a picnic. He then mentioned how odd it was doing a gig in daylight, which led into a lovely short tale about his past experience of this phenomenon. Following this, he began the main body of his set, which was the tale of him being on a speed awareness course. This topic allowed Wrigglesworth ample room to take lots of side turnings into other areas, as he meandered his way through a splendid 50 minutes. This seemed a natural amount of time for his set and the time passed in what seemed more like 30 minutes – not something that could be said about his day on the speed awareness course. Wrigglesworth was totally relaxed on stage and this fed through into his delivery, which was also relaxed. His very vivid descriptions brought everything to life in such a way as to make the room feel present during such events as his meeting with Captain Cu-flaps, a joke that did go over some people’s heads first time, and also during the wonderful account of his battle for change in Leeds Domino’s. This material was so well written, that it can only be described as crafted. I thoroughly enjoyed his set, the strength of the material really appealed to me and this is a comedian who I hope to both see more of at festivals and also to hear on the wireless.

Paul Tonkinson offered a more earthy approach with his show. He began by bantering and ad-libbing for the first 10 minutes, which was very good and I enjoyed the mental agility he demonstrated here, especially his opening gambit, which was to send a thirsty chap on the front row to the bar to get himself a drink. This was nicely different. He then went on to reference the fact that he had forgotten his suit and was performing in a tracksuit, for which he apologised. He had no need to apologise, as this slip provided him with a very entertaining 3-4 minutes of material. From this he then began his set proper, which concerned personal anecdotes about his wife, children, younger days and his domestic environment. In some ways, the staple ingredients of many a 40 plus comedian’s set, albeit with a butter dish, which isn’t mentioned in sets that often. However, is material was far stronger than what an on paper description of his topics would suggest. It was full of lovely little touches, such as him miming hanging himself with the mic lead when asking how long people in the audience had been married and his acting out his son’s text messages concerning himself, although his impersonating a horny meerkat was perhaps the most surreal of these. It was fun listening to the laughs of recognition as he discussed the objection to housework raised by some men, of ‘but I’ve just sat down.’ I’m sure one chap sat in front of me blushed slightly at that. Tonkinson was quite sweary to being with. Not in an effort to make an impact or even ostentatiously, just in a natural way, yet as he got further into his set, the number of words beginning with an ‘F’ declined considerably. This wasn’t a show that dealt with big issues, tried to prove a point, or attempted to improve the audience in some way. Instead, it was 50 minutes of joy that was made relatable by Tonkinson, who delivered it with conviction.