The Maltings – Eleanor Tiernan, Pete Phillipson and Vince Atta

Last night I was at the Maltings in Gainsborough for the Funhouse comedy night. The venue was interesting, combining a pub, restaurant, snooker hall and function room all under one roof. The ceiling was fairly low, especially when one took the beams and stage into account and if any of the acts had been 6’4 or above, then I think there would have been a sore head. Spiky Mike had fun compering, identifying a Jeremy Corbyn lookalike who in response to a quip about it being cold, shouted back ‘Oh no it isn’t’, mistaking a comedy night for panto – the resulting shout from the rest of the room of ‘oh yes it is’ was thankfully cut off quickly by Spiky Mike before it got out of hand. The second compering session was a lot of fun, with a mix of material and room work. We were rather unfortunate in the function room above us being occupied by a very lively 16th birthday party and this made life more difficult than it should have been, especially for the opening act.

Eleanor Tiernan began well, with some strong material about her hours and location of work and this sounded very naturalistic, almost as if it might actually have occurred on her way to the gig. This was followed by a fair bit of material that referenced her Irish roots, but this easily stayed out of being niche and retained a broad appeal, not requiring any knowledge of Ireland for it to work. I enjoyed the section about Chris Brown and felt that the final reveal, set 100 years ago, deserved more. The therapy routine was also enjoyable, although I wasn’t massively keen on the material concerning the wayward behaviour of her lady parts, but in fairness, I think that the impact that this part had and of Tiernan’s set as a whole, were badly hurt by the noise from the function room above. During her set the party upstairs seemed to have their volume set at 11 and whilst the music could be ignored, even if doing stand up with an overly loud Macarena in the background made for an odd juxtaposition, the stamping of feet was REALLY intrusive. As this never seemed to follow any predictable rhythm it did take attention away from Tiernan and this was a shame, as it largely stymied what was a good performance.

The last time I’d seen Pete Phillipson it had been in front of a drunken audience at a bank holiday Sunday gig, where he had been combining compering and riot control. In contrast to that night, he had a great time at this gig. He began by referencing being brought up just down the road in Lincoln, before branching off into talking about friends he’d left behind and his new life in Manchester. There was a lot of good strong material on display, friends of parents and girlfriend’s parents was a delight, especially the callback to the Manilow gig. Drunk Prime Minister, serial killer and dating were also very enjoyable, although I still think that the stand out, from a strong field, is Phillipson’s late for work routine – this is an especial joy, although the callback that he closed on was also excellent. Throughout his set, Phillipson acted out what he was doing and this added a lot of life to his performance. He also had a few voices in his armoury and the whine of the debtor really sold that part of his set. Although Phillipson was helped by the party upstairs calming down in time for him going on, he held the room well and gave everyone a very good night. I thoroughly enjoyed this set.

Vince Atta closed the night and whilst I’m not that keen on music or musical acts, his enthusiasm and joy in what he does is highly infectious. This was an act who brightened up the room as much with his presence as with his material and there is a definite feel good factor in what he does. Atta’s routine involves beatbox and he has plenty of leeway to make it relevant to wherever he is performing. He did a ghetto Gainsborough song and struck a chord with the audience with ‘resting bitch face’ (my favourite routine of his). However, the highlight of his set is when he gets three volunteers to join him. This was a definite crowd pleaser, as a lot of the audience were busy filming their friends being made to be careful of what they said. I felt that the closing routine involved a set up that was a bit overly long, but it certainly closed off the night on a big laugh. I have a feeling that the audience are going to remember seeing Atta for a long time to come.

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