Tonight I was in Southwell for the Funhouse comedy night at the Admiral Rodney. This is probably the gig closest to my home and is all the more welcome for being a nice easy drive to get to. I also enjoy this gig because the line up is consistently good and there is something of a community spirit within the audience. Our MC was Spiky Mike who began with some local material, but improved on this when he was chatting to a financial consultant when he came out with the clever line of Slumberland, which managed to combine quick thinking and entertainment.
The opening act was the Retford based Simon Bligh, who has been in the area for long enough to know that people living in Southwell really don’t like it being pronounced Suvvel, which made for it being a knowingly controversial opening line. Bligh’s material didn’t deal with politics, race or any big issues. It was based upon reading to his daughter and the differences between teenage lads and lasses, first snogs, touching boobs and taking pictures of his knob the old fashioned way. In some ways, a simple list of topics like this makes it sound an unsophisticated set, but the real joy was in how Bligh delivered it. Bligh is a chap who still manages to appear like a mischievous schoolboy. He was able to ask a sedate looking lady how many pictures of willies she had on her phone with a dead pan voice and one heck of a mischievous glint in his eye. Bligh is also an extraordinarily animated act. He will be either pulling a face or stood with his eyes wide and arms outstretched. He was never just still and this gave a lot of impetus to his performance. Whilst his material won’t change anyone’s world view, he gave a feel good show that brightened up the room.
Hayley Ellis opened the middle section. She seemed to have a lot of energy and spoke quickly, as if she was doing fifteen minutes of material in ten. It was nice to see her combine routines and a bit of room work. The material was easily accessible and whether she was talking about her boyfriend, or her experiences with a pain in the neck pupil, Ellis held the room easily. Her material flowed smoothly and there were no jarring leaps from one train of thought to the next. One unusual aspect was her mic style, in contrast to a lot of comedians, she held it close to her mouth, almost resting on her chin, not that this made any difference to how she was received by the audience – they thoroughly enjoyed her. This was a good set that was delivered with verve.
Next was the crowd pleaser Thomas Green, who was a late addition to the bill and who was also a late arrival, as he had understandably gone to the Admiral Rodney in Wollaton, where he has previously performed for Funhouse, rather than the Admiral Rodney in Southwell, 40 minutes away. An easy mistake to make for a chap who has only recently moved here from Australia. The last time I saw Green was up in Edinburgh, where he delivered a fine hour of fun in a red hot blazing furnace of a room, so it made for a change to be sat in jersey, tshirt and string vest, wishing that I’d not took my coat off. Green is an act that audiences warm to quickly and want to like. He also has strong performance skills and is very lively on stage. Tonight I felt that he was slightly hurt by being the second comedian to discuss touching boobs, as Bligh had done a routine about that 30 minutes or so earlier and that slightly diluted the impact of Green’s work, but nevertheless this was a set that went down well and it was nice to see improvements such as the line about the attractive blonde. Green has a lot of potential and with consistent gigging I’m confident that he’ll be a presence on the comedy circuit.
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.