Tom and Adele’s Birthday Party was one of the few shows that I have had penned in on my calendar for some time. However, they have been very unlucky with their venue. It is a tent in a pub courtyard with an amusement fair just outside the door. The noise bleed through the fabric walls of this marquee is horrible and this forces them to swim against the tide from the off. The format of their show is that it is a birthday party, so we all get to wear party hats (which must make it look like some kind of road cone lover’s convention) and Adele opens, Tom closes and a rotating guest spot fills the middle section.
Adele Cliff is a sharp one-liner expert, who should be better known than what she is. Anyone who can do a string of fresh …walks into a bar jokes gets a thumbs up from me. Generally I’ve come across her at gong shows, where she performs very well. Tonight wasn’t the best that I’ve seen her, but I think that this was largely due to factors beyond her control. To begin with there was the horrible noise bleed, the crowd were also very undemonstrative to begin with, too. In fact, the audience had an habit of resetting their mood after every gag and instead of building impetus, Cliff seemed to be back at square one, which is very unlike every other time I’ve seen her. On the debit side, the Adelebola was hard to see from the back, but I still enjoyed the idea of it being rolled and then her doing a joke upon whichever topic it kicked out. The jokes themselves were very good, with a lot verging on the intellectual side of the spectrum. I like this, though, as it is nice to have to do a bit of work to get the references. This was a good set that received an uncharacteristically flat response.
The Birthday Party has a floating middle section and I’m not sure who else has been booked, but tonight I dropped in lucky – the guest comedian was Robyn Perkins. Originally from New Hampshire, now in the south of England, Perkins is a good act that I’ve only seen a couple of times. Tonight she began by referencing her background,which satisfied any curiosity about her accent. Unusual accents can sometimes become an elephant in the room as half the audience are trying to figure out where someone is from, rather than listening to their set and I was glad that this was addressed early in the performance. From here, she hit the ground running, talking fast with lots of enthusiasm and building up what was a good set. There were a couple of times when Perkins seemed to go off script, such as when she was chatting to the front row and there were a few occasions when her brain seemed to be going in several different directions, but this just seemed to add to the delight. Some of the material I had seen before, at a new material night and I had been impressed then, in the meantime, Perkins has honed it to a sharp edge. She held the room well, despite the noise bleed and received an agreeable number of laughs for this very good set.
Closing was Tom Mayhew, who the last time I had seen him, despite getting involved in a prolonged conversation with a talkative audience member, had a touch of quality about him. He began his section with a low energy, shy and awkward delivery, which he made a real virtue of. A lot of his set was at first delivered facing away from the audience, but every so often he’d look and smile, which added a nice ray of sunshine to his set. His material consisted of short routines, a lot autobiographical, which formed a contrast to Cliff’s puns and Perkins longer routines and the audience, which had warmed up, thoroughly enjoyed them. He did suffer a bit from the noise outside, as some parts of his set, the poems, especially, were hard to hear, but this was a good set. His delivery really complimented his material.
The birthday party can be found at Venue 272 – the Laughing Horse and is on at 2200