This has been a month where I’ve seen acts noticeably improve from the last time I saw them and there have been some very nice surprises, such as promising new material being exhibited and some wonderfully off the wall comedy. These are the acts who have impressed me the most this month:
Kohli is not yet the finished article, but he is already a very strong act. His political material is highly insightful and funny. He has the ability to get the feel of an audience very quickly.
From the night:
The middle spot was occupied by Rahul Kohli, who was an inspired booking for two reasons. One, he has obviously got a good career in comedy ahead of him and two, being half Hindu and half Sikh, this gig was tailor made for him. In common with Handley, Kohli was getting laughs before he reached the stage, but in his case it was because there was a chap sat in the audience who looked just like him. Kohli, who evidently devours the news and retains a lot of information in his head, received good laughs for referencing a recent fracas in Leamington between a group of Hindus and Sikhs, before going on to reveal his 50/50 background. This display of local knowledge won the crowd over and went down a treat and from here it was hard for him to put a foot wrong. He got a huge laugh for Glasgow and then an even bigger laugh for the second reveal. The material was evenly balanced between political and being about race and both played wonderfully. Kohli was very much in tune with the audience and had a level of insight that ensured that his room work hit home. He was able to make everything relatable to the crowd and this was a joy to watch. The pause in the delivery in the Trump apology analogy demonstrated a good sense of timing, but I felt that his story about a rudeboy friend was more of a work in progress. There were quite a lot of erms in Kohli’s delivery. These weren’t so much a case of him thinking or running out of things to say, but instead he seemed to be using an erm almost like a comma and probably subconsciously, either way it didn’t impact on what was an infectiously enthusiastic delivery. This was an outstanding set from a very talented comedian.
Lowther probably has the best ten I’ve ever seen. This was from a fifteen and he easily sustained the momentum. The material is solid, but it is his slow delivery that makes him a find.
From the night:
The opening act was the award winning Billy Lowther, an act that I have a lot of time for. His material is solid and he has a delivery that gets the most from it. His routine about Sunderland provided an easily accessible opening to his set and right from the beginning it was obvious that everyone was onboard. The new material fitted naturally into his set and it is always a pleasure to see a comic know which town to name as the local shit town. Lowther is a well built chap and this features in a few of his jokes, but he has a very broad approach to his gags and is far from being a one issue comedian. Also, in contrast to a lot of one-liner comics, his delivery is slow paced and this suits him a lot better, although part of the slow pacing may be due to the fact that he needed to leave room for a laughter break after every single line. Lowther seemed to be on the verge of an applause break all the way through and the big surprise was him only receiving the one applause break.
I seem to have seen a fair bit of Silvester recently and that is no bad thing. She seems to have moved into a higher gear and this performance was without any hiccup or lull.
From the night:
Hannah Silvester had a splendid night. This makes it three out of three gigs where I’ve seen her do well. Her material is relatable, it hangs together well and she moves smoothly from routine to routine. Silvester’s delivery was perfectly in key with what she was saying, with the right tone and lilt being used to make her point without overdoing it and this was a joy to watch.
Ben MacPherson (as Byron Montrose)
MacPherson is a name that is largely unknown outside of the Nottingham improv scene. However, in this character act he has created something special. Given a room where the audience allow the acts time to establish themselves, he would create a lot of mirth.
From the night:
Next was Ben MacPherson, resplendent in jazzy outfit, performing as a new character – Byron Montrose. I like MacPherson, he has presence and the sort of voice that Barry White would envy. His show was a monologue and I’m generally not a fan of these, as I find a lot of audiences disengage after a while and it is hard to sustain the momentum without some audience interaction. However, I’m happy to say that Montrose did not suffer at all from this; indeed from beginning to end he remained thoroughly entertaining. The material was extremely good. Every line had been scrutinised until it contained something that added comedic value. There were no loose adjectives, instead, it was like a Spike Milligan book, with nods to surrealism and everything provoking a giggle. Whilst there was no one killer line that brought the house down, the cumulative effect of one small pun after another was remarkable and I think there is a real risk that in the full show the room may be giggled out after 25 minutes. This was a smashing performance that was delightfully different.
Bennett Kavanagh, Dan Nicholas, Jared Shooter, Ross Smith, Seymour Mace