End of month review – June

This has been something of a slow month for reviewing, mostly due to work and so there have only been 32 comedians reviewed. This month I have seen Edinburgh Previews, professional nights, open mic nights and also an improv night. Some of these have been extremely good nights, notably the previews and the professional nights. One regret I have is not having seen as many English Comedian of the year heats as I would have liked. Partly this was due to being on shift for those nights and also due to me honouring a previous commitment to a gig that I had put my name down for prior to discovering it clashed with a heat.

These are the comedians who have impressed me the most this month; as ever comedian’s that I have recommended recently, such as Tom Houghton, are time barred from this month.

Milo McCabe as Troy Hawke

This was a smashing set. McCabe did benefit from being able to hoover up material during the course of the night, as he was closing, but all the same he demonstrated a huge degree of creativity and being able to think upon the spot.

The review from the night:

Our closing act was Milo McCabe as Troy Hawke. Hawke strolled onto the stage, looking like Douglas Fairbanks relaxing on a film set, bedecked in a silk top, cravat, moustache and brylcreemed hair. His use of language and speech patterns were reminiscent of a PG Wodehouse character, but with more credibility. This was used to marvellous effect, as a set that was 50% based upon facts elicited by Jones’ compering and 50% material was delivered to the room. I was very impressed with how Hawke managed to work in so much improvised material and judging by the sounds of laughter, the rest of the audience were extremely enthusiastic, too. The pre-existing material, which discussed football and his interactions with various people were of a uniformly great quality, but pushed a lot further by a very strong delivery, that stayed in character throughout. The closing routine was simply magnificent. This involved Hawke working in a call back to everyone who had been spoken to during the course of the night. This earned him a series of applause breaks. I’ve never seen anyone manage to pull this off before. The closest I’ve seen to it was on television, when Bob Monkhouse improvised a series of links between audience members in one of his shows. It was at this stage that Hawke was delivered a googly in the form of a shout out/call back to his own material and was asked to sing a song. He dealt with this request with aplomb and some very quick thinking. This was a fantastic set.

Peter McCole

This was a very pleasurable and enjoyable performance. Light-hearted, good fun and very amiable.

The review from the night:

After the intermission we resumed with Peter McCole, who is the second Liverpool based comedian I’ve seen this week and indeed within the last couple of months. I have to confess, I wasn’t familiar with McCole until I saw his name on the bill, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew he’d be good, otherwise he wouldn’t have been booked, but this still added a little bit of excitement to the night. McCole came onto the stage and ad-libbed the first couple of minutes to good effect, generating laughs quickly. Within 3-4 minutes, he had the entire pub hanging on his every word, as he delivered his material with a great deal of charm. I was especially taken by his story of a séance, which built up nicely as he delivered it. The reveal was saved from being foreseeable by a lovely twist. His closing routine involved a sex tape, which is something that has been covered a couple of times by comics, but which gave the room real pleasure as McCole acted out the scene on the tape and the reaction from his parents. This was a well thought out set, with both good material and a well pitched delivery. I hope to see more of McCole.

Caimh McDonnell

This was a cracking Edinburgh Preview from a master raconteur.

The review from the night:

The next Edinburgh Preview was from Caimh McDonnell, whose show is entitled Gorilla in the Midst. McDonnell is an excellent comedian and made a big impression on me years before I began reviewing. This is the 5th time I’ve paid to see him and I’ve never had anything less than an excellent time. Tonight, he began with a story about a near death experience, which included a lovely ironic spoiler alert. This was followed by a collection of stories involving his encounters with other animals, such as a badger, a police horse, a dog and rats. These stories were delivered in such a way that they came to life before your eyes. The descriptions were so vivid, that one could easily see McDonnell sat on his sofa, with the rat waving to him. This story was one that struck a particular chord with me, as my wife is terrified of spiders and if one had swapped out rats for arachnids, then it could well have been describing her attitude to the critters. Interestingly, by the time that McDonnell was discussing his granddad’s reaction to political campaigners knocking on his door before tea, I was laughing heartily at just the set up, with no idea of what the reveal would be. The final tale concerned families and the sort of lively cousin that most people are glad that someone else has, if only because they get to hear all the antics, without having the personal discomfort of having to deal with the aftermath. The material of this show is first rate and is massively funny.

McDonnell is a natural raconteur. He is one of those chaps who could make a discussion about anything interesting. He delivers his material quickly and seems to get through 90 minutes of material in an hour. His references were wonderful, from the now dated figure of Ian Paisley to his line about a Christmas performance at the Fritzl’s. This was a fantastic show from a comedian who is on top form. Every time I see McDonnell I always drive home wondering how someone who is so gifted is not yet a household name.

Jonny Awsum

I’m not a fan of musical acts, but this was a very good set that brought the entire pub onboard and seemed to make the night about having fun as a community, rather than as individuals laughing on our own.

The review from the night:

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.

Finlay Taylor

This set was a lovely surprise. It came from a comic I wasn’t familiar with and had no huge expectations of. It was a real additional to the night.

The review from the night:

The next act was Finlay Taylor who discussed his physical imperfections, gentrification and various non-problems in life. With this last category, he refrained from calling them first world problems, which demonstrated an impressive restraint on his part, as 90% of comedians would probably have worked that phrase into this set. Taylor’s material was tightly written and impressively strong, earning him an applause break for his contempt at the putative cure for being gluten-intolerant. He moved from one topic to another swiftly, but his set hung together in a way that made it feel seamless. Taylor’s delivery was fast and he hardly seemed to pause for breath as he swiftly built up a lot of momentum. It seemed like he managed to fit twenty minutes of first rate material into a fifteen minute slot and the world is a slightly better place for this achievement. I’d not heard of Taylor before tonight; he was a lovely surprise and a splendidly entertaining one.

Justin Moorhouse

One of those sets where the comedian pretty much takes the roof off of the venue. A magnificent set.

The review from the night:

The headlining act was Justin Moorhouse, who is someone whom I’ve been interested in as a comedian ever since I saw his cameo appearances in an old show I used to watch before going on nights called something Taxi Nights or something similar. I’ve travelled to places like Derby, Sheffield, Matlock and now Grantham to see him perform and every time I’ve seen him, he has been excellent. Moorhouse has produced some great material over the years, such as ‘asthmatic sith lord’ and a shout out for Manchesters when he was in a department store in Australia. However, he seems to have made a conscious decision to continue to write new material and not to rely upon a greatest hits catalogue approach, which is a real bonus. Tonight he began in a callback to Mike’s compering by chatting in French with a lady in the front row, with exaggerated facial expressions for added effect. He then started his set properly, by discussing three lies that comedian’s tell, managing to get three reveals from the oft used line about a comedian announcing his girlfriend had just left him. I particularly enjoyed his successive downgrading of something funny happening on the way to the venue. The theme of Moorhouse’s set was his current fears. This covered a lot of areas, but my personal favourite in this was his work on the Manchester pusher, which he chose to deliver with a strong Mancunian accent, making him the ‘Push-Shore’. This made the villain sound less like a menace and more like a roadie for a 90’s indie band and tickled me. Moorhouse had perfect timing and made great use of raising his voice partway through a sentence at the crucial moment to add the emphasis to what he was saying. The result of this was nigh on 40 minutes of massive laughs. The closing routine, involving a KO and an accident with a bucket was simply superb and the way it was described really brought it to life and actually had me in tears of laughter, which doesn’t happen often. This was a barnstormer of a show.

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