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.