Adm Rodney, Wollaton – Tom Short, Jules Oliver, Danny Clives, Tony Wright, Hannah Silvester, Jay Handley and Fran Jenking (mc)

Tonight I was at the Admiral Rodney in Wollaton for the Funhouse comedy night. For once I was actually able to park in the car park, which made a nice change. This was partly because the numbers were slightly down on last time, although it was still nicely busy.

Our MC Fran Jenking had a good night, demonstrating the benefit of having a popular resident compere. He has built up a very nice rapport with the audience and this makes it feel a very friendly gig. There was a lot of laughter during his work and without really seeming to have to work very hard to achieve this, he warmed the room up pretty quickly. He could probably have introduced acts sooner, due to his warming everyone up so quickly. Jenking set a friendly and convivial tone for the whole evening.

The opening act was Tom Short, who literally went on stage two minutes after arriving at the venue. Whilst he isn’t the most charismatic presence, Short soon had everyone listening intently to what he was saying. His delivery is very conversational, with lots of additional words that build up what he is saying. Whilst I felt that his comments about Blackpool Illuminations were very much in the style of Peter Kay, I enjoyed the Bane reference. His closing routine about the Yorkshire Ripper was very good, but probably the standout on his set was a great ad-lib about a hearth next to the stage that he stumbled on – his Dickensian comment was as lovely as it was unexpected.

Jules Oliver had a very good night. She demonstrated some very nice touches during her set. She had a visual aid that could be seen (always a bonus) and had been listening to Fran chatting to the audience and so knew which couple had been on a cruise (if the acts are obviously listening to each other then it sets a good example). These were both minor points, but still good. From the off, though, Oliver made a big impact on the audience. Her actual set was very cleverly written, with some great jokes, such as dog grooming and falconry, both of which were excellent. Her style was very pleasing, as one could never be sure where the reveal would come from. The only section in this impressive set that I wasn’t massively keen on was the reading out of emails from her father. This was still funny, but I’ve seen a few comedians do something similar and this robbed it of the impact it would otherwise have had with me. This was a very good performance that went down very well with the audience.

We resumed after the intermission with the softly spoken Danny Clives. His set was spoilt a bit by the intrusive noise bleed from the best side of the pub and from the sounds of pints being pulled. He began nicely, getting laughs for standing there, looking awkward. His material slightly split the room, with some people not really getting what he was doing. However, there were some very good lines in it that landed well. I especially appreciated the wonderful line, ‘can’t prove it’ and that really deserved a far bigger response than he received for it. This was a well constructed set with a lot of art in it.

The very smartly dressed Tony Wright followed. He began by discussing his name and appearance, getting a nice laugh, which was followed by an even bigger laugh for the advice his father gave him. His joke about a seasoned veteran was perhaps the highlight of his set, but after this it was rather hit and miss. There were some deliberately bad puns, that elicited a groan, but would perhaps have worked better if delivered with more elan. In fairness, he wasn’t helped on his penultimate joke by a couple of police cars racing past the window, sirens blaring. However, despite having the look of a well polished act, I found him a curiously unmemorable act and I suspect that most of the audience will struggle to remember much about him, too and this is a shame. There is nothing wrong with his delivery, he can certainly put across whatever he is discussing and I would suggest that with stronger material he will do well.

Hannah Silvester had a very nice night, gaining a lot of laughter. She had some very timely references, such as French beachwear and her routine about watching films whilst doing housework was lovely. Her delivery was engaging and flowed nicely; her asides were especially enjoyable. This was a very good set.

Our headline act, Jay Handley was built up by Fran, as being a tour de force, a boost that with other acts, could have become a hostage to fortune. Instead Handley took it all in his stride. He made an immediate impact with his material about looking like Jesus and never really looked back. This was a very fast moving twenty five minutes, with laughter rolling throughout the room. Handley built up a lot of momentum and looked every inch a professional level act. His outgoing delivery seemed to bring everyone onboard and he was on the verge of an applause break throughout his entire set, before finally getting one for his cat. The material was strong, with my personal favourite being the bus ride. This was a magnificent set.


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