101 Comedy Club is an attractive show. It is a revue of acts, each doing 8 – 10 minutes of material to showcase their shows. I quite like this sort of thing and judging by the size of the audience it seems that a lot of other people have an appetite for it, too. At first the room looked to be merely packed, then it was a case of Luvdev Barpaiga finding spare seats for people to sit in and then people were found places to stand. If every show was as well attended then it would be lovely. Our MC was Mat Wills, who was very much aware that there had been a short delay in starting the show, due to finding space for everyone. Instead of hogging the time, he did the square thing for the acts and the show after his and kept it tight at the top. I found this to be very creditable, but even in the short time he was warming up the room Wills showed evidence of how sharp he is. His fast response to the profession of one lady and then his added on joke were examples of impressive quick thinking.
The first act was Mark Grimshaw who in his 8 minutes interestingly combined some popular topics that a few comedians are working with, but with him saying some very funny and definitely above average things about them. He began by explaining that he is autistic and compared his delivery to that of Yodel – this was an area that I appreciated, as I felt it to be very timely and it certainly resonated with the audience. However, he then went on to talk about the headlines in OK magazine, which I thought was going for a bit of an easy target and one that has been covered a few times. However, I really enjoyed what he had to say about it. The same can be said for his discussion about unusual reviews left on Trip Adviser. He is the second comedian I’ve seen mining this site for comedy recently and although both were different in the specifics of what they had to say, the format was exactly the same, with both having independently gone with something along the lines of ‘well what did they expect to see there?’ Grimshaw’s take on it contained some great lines, such as ‘new management’ and ‘mod cons’ which were very good indeed. Grimshaw is obviously a very talented wordsmith, but I’d like to see him going for less well travelled topics.
Next was Brian Damage and Krysstal, a double act that I’ve seen four or five times on the circuit. They blend music with routines and are reliable closers to shows, although the last time I saw them, they were hosting Spiky Mike’s birthday party. Tonight they only had 8 minutes in which to give the room a taster of their show, Pear Shaped Afternoons. Judging from the laughter, I’d say that they accomplished this nicely. From Brian’s off the cuff comments, to Krysstal’s expression of non-verbal comedy (looking clueless or bored, depending upon what Brian was up to), they hit the ground running and never looked back. This was something nicely different from someone stood there with a microphone telling the room a bit about themselves.
Luvdev Barpaiga followed. In contrast to his usual self, he was gloriously and happily drunk and despite this he gained some very good laughs. Although he did suffer for being drunk, he wasn’t charmless or aggressive with it and never lost the audience, despite losing track of the satnav gag and returning to it a few times. In fact, I’d say that the room enjoyed his performance as he looked so cheerful and content with his evening and this was hard not to warm to. There were a few moments when he ended up corpsing, such as after he had told Jay Handley that he loved him, but again, the spectators laughed along with him. There was enough material on display to show that Barpaiga definitely has something to offer and although I didn’t see him under the best of circumstances tonight, during a short set he got away with it.
Jay Handley was in the fortunate position of following Barpaiga and made the most of it by gently bouncing his opening off of his drunken show. Handley is well known for his resemblance to Jesus and this formed the framework of his short set and was something that he’d reference or return to, almost like an in-depth running gag, throughout his set. His performance contained some good strong material, which was pushed further by little extra details, such as the red marker pen dots. The section about bus seats was well thought out and in common with a lot of what he showed us, it had little extras, where one would have thought he had finished, but there was a final reveal to come. This was a set that built up a fair bit of momentum in a short time and was the standout of this show.
Closing was Pete Dobbing who opened with a bit of material about Jonathan Creek and Dr Who, which whilst not especially funny did contain some very nice elements. A lot of his set seemed to consist of him setting himself up in a possibly bad light and then light-heartedly telling the audience to fuck off for thinking that of him. This can work very well, but three or four of them in such a short amount of time seemed like over egging the pudding a bit. When he was discussing food and the ramifications his love of it had for an ex-career he was on firmer ground as he was with talking about his name. His delivery was decent enough, but unfortunately he didn’t really seem to stand out.