I was regrettably a few minutes late for Tony Cowards’ show, Daft Pun (Mash House 1600) and arrived just as he was chatting to the audience, finding out who was from where, what they did and which football teams they supported. Three things impressed me about this, Cowards has a very good general knowledge and knew something interesting about each location, he was then able to base a pun around it (with no sound of a crowbar being used) and 40 minutes later he could still remember people’s names and locations and there was no jarring elements of him getting confused with who was from Dunfermline and who was a graphic designer. This section contained two fantastic puns in response to a man having the name of Kelvin and both received a lot of laughs. Almost without me realising it, Cowards moved from bantering with the audience to the main body of his show, which was a pretty smooth transition.
Cowards’ stock in trade is puns and he is extremely proficient at crafting them. A lot of these are very intelligent and require some knowledge to get the full benefit, which explains why the odd miss was due to it going over people’s heads rather than not being funny. The misses were very few and far between as the audience got into the rhythm of laughing whenever he stopped speaking. The puns were delivered in strings, which built up the momentum, but which also may explain why my favourite pun of Tony’s wasn’t included (Taipei – when I heard this I was still chuckling on the drive home) as it didn’t seem to have a natural home in the show. I will confess to struggling with some of the musical references, but the rest of the audience got them; although in another ten years a few will be a bit niche unless there is a 80s revival. Just after the half way point Cowards changed the pace of the show by introducing some visual puns. These went down well and breathed some fresh energy into the room, as it can be hard for an audience to be laughing every 30 seconds or so for the entire length of a show. The finale was a song, where Cowards’ demonstrated a markedly good voice. This was a cracking show from a comedian who is extremely good and I’d like to see more of on the circuit.