Grantham – Addy van der Borgh, Radu Isac, Discount Comedy Checkout and Vince Atta

Tonight I was in Grantham for the Funhouse comedy night there. This is a lovely room, that attracts a decent crowd. Spiky Mike had a good night, adding some fun current affairs elements to his compering, which went down well. He wasn’t even fazed by the comedy cul-de-sac of one chap having a career as a computer game animator. Mike had promised us a very diverse bill and he was spot on in this. We had a surrealist, an improv troupe, a musical act and only one traditional stand up. This made for a night that had something for everyone.

Our opening act was Addy van der Borgh, who with his beard and moustache would have looked looked slightly like The Master in Dr Who, if it wasn’t for Addy having interesting hair. He began well by using the oft quoted Neeson speech from Taken, but adding fresh life to it by putting a belter of a twist on it. This was then followed by a wonderfully surreal set, with some huge standout pieces, such as insurance and gas man. Both of these routines are solid bankers. However, where Van Der Borgh reaps a huge reward is through his performance skills. These are outstanding. He can impart emotions through his tone, his facial expressions and simply how he positions himself. He even managed to make a bottle of wine sound seductive to me and I’m a confirmed teetotaller. Throughout his set, he adds brass band trombone and trumpet sound effects to illustrate his points and these all add to the feel of his show. This was a very strong set.

After the intermission it was Radu Isac, whom I view as being very much an up and coming act. I regard him as being a good addition to any bill. A lot of his material comes from being Romanian, but instead of merely relying on this, Isac has some very good and intelligent material. Tonight he received his first (of three) applause breaks for a Meerkat joke, but I was pleased to see his other applause breaks being for the more technically excellent jokes in his set. Isac did have one chap play into his hands by shouting out Bucharest immediately prior to his routine about people who know capitals of the world and this added to the glee. This was a set where time seemed to pass very quickly.

Next was the Discount Comedy Checkout, an impressive improv troupe who have managed to pull off the difficult task of making improvisation look smooth and polished. Ideally speaking they could have done with more than 10 minutes or so, as by the time they’d explained the format of the games it didn’t leave a lot of time for comedy. However, they more than made the most of the time that they had. This was one of those performances that appealed to everyone in the room. The fact that they work with the audience’s suggestions (anally fixated tonight) really gels them to the crowd. Probably the highlight was Eddie’s take on Jeremy Clarkson. He got this pitch perfect and then really built on it by forcefully demanding his tea – that was sheer genius. The last game was a bit of a valiant damp squib, but this wasn’t DCC’s fault. Instead, it was due to an unfortunate combination of suggestions by the audience and not really having enough time to make the most of it. That little blip aside, this was a thoroughly entertaining performance.

Our headlining act was Vince Atta, a comedian I’d heard of, but hadn’t seen prior to tonight. He left me with happy, but mixed feelings. I’m a philistine when it comes to music; my taste is very much limited to ELO and the Ring Cycle, so hip hop is a bit beyond me. I’m also not that enamoured with musical comedians, preferring tight sets and so on. However, Atta’s charisma and sheer enthusiasm ensured that even if I was out of my zone, I still had a very good time. He presents a compelling visage as he creates a set from a beatbox and his imagination and on a technical level it is excellent. Atta is top notch at what he does and his sheer joy in doing it is highly infectious. His reggae 321 is superb and it was no surprise to hear everyone laughing along loudly. His routine involving the audience was also another crowd pleaser. There were a couple of misfires, such as his penultimate song, which the audience didn’t really buy into, but this was a rare miss in a performance that the audience thoroughly enjoyed. Although it may not totally be my cup of tea, I still enjoyed this set and the audience certainly bought into it.

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