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.