This has been a lovely month. I’ve seen 47 acts, encompassing gong shows and festival shows. There were a large number of acts who have thoroughly impressed me with their ability. These are the ones who have made the biggest impact upon me:
Christian is a comedian that I don’t seem to see a lot and it was astonishing just how much he had improved since I last saw him. This performance was at an open mic night, but even so, Christian stood out for his professionalism and his sheer quality.
From the night:
The award winning Tom Christian was the closing act. He had impressed me before he had even entered the room. He had arrived whilst Sherwood was compering and rather than walk in and potentially detract from this work, he had stayed outside until the right moment came along to come in – a nicely professional touch. Getting the up and coming Christian for this gig was something of a coup and his quality soon became apparent to the audience. He opened with a short routine about Meatloaf, which is nicely visual and punchy enough to give him instant laughter. This then led into a wonderfully varied series of routines that were very well written and had lots of little touches. Some of these were a bit subtle and weren’t as appreciated as they might have been, such as Uncle Tom, which wasn’t got by everyone, but was appreciated by those who did. Christian was a confident presence in the room and it’s fair to say that he dominated it commanding attention, rather than this being optional – I don’t think that this was the result of a conscious decision that he made, but more a knack that comes with experience and knowing that he has a solid set to hold the room with. Even if there was a baby crying throughout bits of his set. There were a lot of good lines and I think the letters of complaint were perhaps the highlight of his set. These went down a treat. Christian received four applause breaks, gave the room a lot of laughter, was very influential in getting the venue owners to run a second comedy night and had a lot of well wishers shaking his hand and thanking him for being so funny. Not a bad nights’ work for him.
An act who doesn’t have the social media presence of many comics and possibly isn’t at the forefront of people’s minds as a result of this. However, Teckman gave a fantastic performance.
From the night:
Next was Pete Teckman, who fully lived up to his reputation as being a thoroughly nice guy. His dry delivery went down very well with the audience as he started pleasantly with a routine about identity theft and then continued with the nicely creative concept of head tattoos. This was followed by material that was formidable enough to earn his not one, not two, not three, not four, but five applause breaks over fifteen minutes. That was lovely to see and whilst it could perhaps be said that the audience were his type of people and his material was their type of humour, I don’t think that that is the real explanation for Teckman’s success. Instead, it was the result of a very well put together set that felt coherent and carried on building right up until the end. There were a lot of great routines delivered with good timing and in a great dry manner. My personal favourite was the aunt kicking, which was not only intrinsically funny, but all the more appreciated because one had to think about it to get the joke and it built upon the foundations laid by an earlier joke. I knew that Teckman was good, but he seems to have moved up a gear. This was very impressive.
Is one of the next generation of comics who will be making a living from comedy. He’s not fully there yet, but it is only a matter of time.
From the night:
We resumed after the intermission with Joby Mageean, of whom I had heard some very nice things said. He began by commenting on Spiky Mike’s compering and doing a quick demonstration of him not using his guitar to juggle with, in comparison to Royle, which was not only funny and harked back to Royle’s set, but it also demonstrated that Mageean was brave enough to think on his feet and alter his set. From here he did a splendiferous vocal version of Morricone’s ‘The ecstasy of the gold’, which I can’t speak highly enough of. However, he may perhaps benefit from building a more powerful joke around this, as whilst the vocals were fantastic, the joke paled by comparison. I enjoyed the Gay Card material and felt that it was both logical and funny, although the final pay off didn’t feel quite as robust as the rest of that routine. The jokes about his name were fine and the closing song was very good indeed (the callback was superb), building nicely as Mageean got ever more frantic in his exasperation with the comic getting his name wrong. Mageean’s delivery was very effective, combining a genuine enthusiasm for what he was doing and an awareness of the audience. It was great to see him following Royle by speaking to Angela and it’s always nice to see acts listening to comperes and knowing where people, such as the Irishman, are sat. This was an extraordinarily promising performance and it’s obvious that Mageean has a real future as a comedian.
An amazing performance.
From the night:
Headlining was another Australian, Wayne Deakin. I see a lot of acts that have cracking nights, but it is not often that I would describe an act as smashing a gig, but Deakin managed that and seemed to make it look easy. Within minutes he was in that happy place where there were volleys of laughter following his every utterance. His style was domineering, standing on the stage looking like some kind of colossus, as he treated the room to a soapbox oration mixture of facts about the world, opinions and why gay airline stewards are great. Deakin would issue a statement regarding something such as the muddle of who likes whom in Britain and then pull the rug from under this by demonstrating how much of a nonsense it is. He is also the first comedian I’ve seen putting the boot into Corbyn, who regardless of my own political views, should not be enjoying immunity from the ridicule that is the politicians lot. It was truly heart warming to be sat looking at a lady who might have been either side of 70 totally pissing herself with laughter at Deakin – comedy and more especially a near the knuckle joke – is truly a great uniter of people. This was a tremendous performance and Deakin took the roof off of the building.
Like Mageean, Wozniak is someone who is definitely on their way up the comedy ladder and he will be doing this on a professional basis sooner or later.
From the night:
We resumed after the intermission with Simon Wozniak occupying the sweet spot. Twice this week Wozniak has been a finalist in comedy competitions, but without taking top spot. I was wondering if he would pull it off tonight, as I felt that he was certainly in with a chance. He made a strong beginning and never really looked back. His material was relatable and drew the audience in and even when he was miming riding an elephant he still kept everyone with him. He delivered his material lent back, pushing his belly out and whenever he got excited his voice went up in pitch, which considering his Liverpudlian accent, seemed to just ratchet up the impact of what he was saying. There were a lot of big laughs during this set and Wozniak delivered a stellar performance. He was a worthy winner of the engraved trophy.
Hayley Ellis, Harv Hawkins, Dan Thomas, Pete Phillipson