End of month recommendations

This has been something of a slow month for me, as a lot of gigs have conflicted with shifts at work. Hence I have only seen 36 acts. However, the quality of the acts has been very good. These are the ones who have impressed me the most this month.

Carl Jones (MC)

I’ve seen Jones in the role of compere a few times and he is always impressive. This was at a gig that was very tricky to begin with and the eventual success of the night owed a lot to his hard work.

From the night:

Tonight Jones became the second hardest working MC I’ve ever seen. When he began the room whilst not hostile to comedy, was very guarded and seemed to almost resent the intrusion of what they had all actually paid money to see. Bizarre, I know, but that was the vibe I was getting. They were the sort of crowd to who didn’t want to interact or get involved. However, Jones bravely made a point of chatting to every table and without being a pest, actually getting them to open up and chat. This paid a very good dividend as he made the room seem a lot more welcoming. His explanation of what the Bake Off is to a Danish couple only highlighted just how odd a concept it must seem to our foreign friends. During his second session, Jones made some real connections with the various disparate groups of people sat about the room. He did well to remember names and whom was connected to whom and he didn’t put a foot wrong. Everyone had bought into the night thanks to Jones. This was determined compering that never became overbearing and he did very well to make this a gig.

Jay Handley

I’ve seen Handley a couple of times, but mostly doing short sets; so although I knew he was very good, I didn’t realise he was this good. This was a great set.

From the night:

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.

Ian Lane

This was a very well judged set that was pitched perfectly to the audience.

From the night:

In contrast, Ian Lane had a great night. He began by making some observations about the room which brought everyone into his act very quickly. His material about his top seemed very fresh and immediate, impressing the room with the fact that he wasn’t on autopilot. His chat with an audience member about 4 socket extension cables initially flummoxed her, but the pay off was nicely offbeat. I did wonder if he was dragging out one section a little bit too long, but it was worth it for the Morse related reveal, which featured as a splendid call back later. Lane delivered his set looking mildly exasperated by the audience, as if he were a teacher and they were a bright but unruly class and this, combined with some strong ad-libs produced a performance that was extremely good. I was very impressed by what I saw.

Radu Isac

Isac is an act who could erroneously be pigeon-holed as being one note, but to do so is to do him a gross injustice. His writing is very sharp and clever and there is a lot of depth to his set.

From the night:

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.

Markus Birdman

This was a cracking performance, pure and simple.

From the night:

The closing act was Markus Birdman who began by explaining what we could expect from his act. This contained a clever knob gag, which was a definite step above the majority of knob gags. He then very slightly blotted his copybook by becoming the third person to ask Chris what his name was, but in fairness this is an occupational hazard of being an headliner who is doubling up with opening at another gig. Birdman swiftly built up a lot of momentum and the room was behind him to a person, enjoying his performance. This was an intelligent set that was delivered with flair and some great facial expressions. Even topics that were unfamiliar to many people in the room were rendered relatable and accessible by his delivery. Birdman has a splendiferous voice. His diction is sonorous and I could probably listen to his voice all day. The end result of his great material and wonderful delivery was a lot of laughs. This was a superb performance.

Honourable mentions:

Jules Oliver, Alan Hudson, Philip Simon, Hannah Silvester, Addy van der Borgh and The Discount Comedy Checkout

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