Tonight I was just down the road from home, at the Funhouse Comedy gig in Southwell. This was a warm pleasant night when outside, but inside the venue it was very hot. It was also the first time I’ve worn my new Panama hat, so I was feeling pretty chuffed about that. This is a nice gig that like so many other Funhouse nights, attracts a loyal crowd who know how comedy works. It wasn’t as packed out as it usually is, which may be due to a folk festival taking place nearby, or possibly due to people just enjoying being out in the evening sun. As it was, there were not many empty chairs and Spiky Mike had a fun time chatting to the audience, mixing some seasonal material with banter. The room was soon ready for our first act.
The opening act was the genius Tom Binns, as Ian D Montfort. The last time I had seen Montfort, it had been at a rough gig (as opposed to a tough gig) in Ironville, where he had had to deal with a crowd that were disruptive. This evening, it was the polar opposite, as he had everyone’s attention from the off. Montfort combines stand out material, a delivery that is timed to perfection and loads of extra touches that make this a stellar act. I especially enjoyed the time lag between the vet reveal and the audience getting it and the same can be said of the way the laughter built over the Death card being chosen. Playing Montfort as sexually ambiguous adds to the set, as it gives Binns the chance to work in wonderful extra details, such as salaciously sticking his tongue out whilst talking to chaps. The set contained some new elements, such as magazines in place of 50 Shades of Grey, a new trick involving dominoes which kept it fresh and a new joke that Montfort appeared to stumble over, which led to a huge laugh when he broke the fourth wall. Binns is such a polished performer that I’m not convinced the stumble wasn’t part of the set. This was, as ever, an excellent performance.
The original first act of the middle section was unavailable due to a breakdown, but luckily Mike Osborne, who had driven Stephanie Laing, was at the venue and able to step in at short notice. Although Osborne began with a sound lookalike joke, he was unfortunate in the following two jokes not being well received (one of which, the Goonies, was very much against the demographic of the audience) and he seemed to spend the rest of his set trying to recapture the room. This isn’t to suggest that he lost the audience, because he didn’t, it was more a case of being back at square one. I liked Osborne’s set. His material was intelligently written with some very nice jokes, such as the Rice joke, which I felt built with each reveal. The flat earth material was sound and whilst the first Big Issue reveal was foreseeable, the two that chased it definitely justified it. The line about how not being a smackhead should be mandatory went down well with the audience. His delivery was fairly fast paced and suited his style, although he did lose some momentum explaining what a selfie stick was to some of the more senior members of the crowd. This was a set that I enjoyed and I’d like to see Osborne again.
Stephanie Laing closed the middle section. I like Laing, she is one of those acts that audiences seem to warm to instinctively, possibly because she has a big wide smile and looks like she is enjoying life. Within the first couple of minutes someone in the audience had made a quiet comment for the benefit of the person sat next to her, in response to Laing’s line about a pony. I hardly heard it from 10′ away, yet Laing, stood on stage a good way distant had sharp enough ears to have picked it up. She was also sharp witted enough to go with the comment and ad-libbed some very nice lines from it and then used it in a small series of callbacks. This was a wonderful example of an act thinking on their feet and making the right decision. Laing’s material was good and I enjoyed the story of the tattoo, but felt that it could have benefited from something to link it into the rest of the set. The delivery was great, with lots of little actions, expressions and noises that just seemed to add to everything she did (not too dissimilar to Cokey Falkow in this respect). It was no wonder that Laing received consistent laughs.
The closing act was Jonny Awsum, the 4th musical act I’ve seen recently. Awsum gave the room 5-6short songs, which really got the crowd going. Awsum brings the entire audience into his act, having people sing, make noises and play instruments according to the song. This really got everyone involved and ensured that he gave the room a feel good ending to their night. He wasn’t helped by the pub’s telephone ringing in the background during a set up, but luckily this stopped before it became too distracting. Whilst musical acts aren’t my cup of tea, it’s obvious that everyone was really into Awsum and the pub definitely enjoyed his performance.