Tonight I was back at the Admiral Rodney in Southwell for the Funhouse gig after what has seemed like ages away. It was nice to have to queue to get into a comedy night; a large well disposed audience adds no end to the atmosphere. Spiky Mike struck some gold during his compering when chatting to a p/t rock musician and this led to a very nice callback based upon the band’s name (Beggars Belief). The room was soon ready for the opening act.
I’d seen Roger Monkhouse before where he had compered a gig, so I was looking forwards to watching his routine. He made a bit of an inadvertent false start when within 30 seconds or so of him starting a group of latecomers arrived and noisily made their way to the only free seats, which were inevitably on the front row. He was unlucky in that one of the late comers was a bit of a pain and whenever Monkhouse went back to speak to him, this chap would just mess him about with his answers. In the end he just decided to ignore him, which was for the best. However, before he reached this point Monkhouse made the most of the fact that this man was short and bald, which gave the tall and bald Monkhouse an open goal which he didn’t hesitate to take advantage of by introducing the room to ‘mini me’. Following the applause break, he moved on into the standard bald person list of lookalikes, which went down well. The set that followed involved a lot of monologues by the well spoken Monkhouse. He went out on quite a limb with some of these, but always managed to bring everything back in. This was a set with a lot of nice touches, but for me the best line was the Daesh/Saga comment. Monkhouse’s delivery was very interesting, he’d repeat a lot of words and his sentence structure was quite convoluted and whilst he could arguably benefit from being shorter and snappier I think that if he did he would lose the essence of what makes his performance so engaging.
Originally there were to be two acts in the middle section, but one unavoidably couldn’t make it so Gary Meikle stepped into the gap to do an extended set, which worked very well. Meikle hit the ground running, opening with a good joke that immediately established his credibility. This was a set that flowed nicely and there were a lot of good jokes and strong routines. The pounds routine was well acted out, which gave it added impetus and the sarcasm in Meikle’s voice as he commented about the reading lamp was tangible. Meikle was restraining himself in front of this audience, keeping his set clean and not going to places where he may have gone with a different room and I think this did dilute some of his impact. He did test the waters a couple of times with riskier material, but was wise enough to pull back when it seemed that the room weren’t up for it. Ironically, I believe that if he had played it less restrained from the beginning then the room would probably have gone with him. There were two instances where he asked the audience to give him a cheer if…. and there was silence. This could have been awkward, but Meikle rolled with it both times and turned each occasion into something funny, getting laughs for his responses. I was surprised at him being left hanging as the room was enjoying his set and laughing a lot. This was a very enjoyable performance from an act that I’d like to see gigging down here more.
Mike Gunn headlined the night. Gunn is a reliable performer with a sharply honed mature set. He delivers short gags in strings and builds up a lot of momentum very quickly. Every so often he’d explain a joke to a member of the audience, but this was more to add emphasis to the punchline than because something needed explaining. Gunn would chat to the audience between jokes, preparing the set up for the next string of gags and it served its’ other purpose of tying his act in to the audience well. The callback on yawning was great and the pros and cons of holidaying abroad was fantastic, probably the line of the night. Gunn’s timing was excellent I can see why he has such an impressive comedy CV.