Tonight I was in Derby for the Funhouse Comedy night at the Blessington Carriage – the final one prior to the Summer move outdoors to Bar One. This was something of a special night with Panel Beaters being performed. This was minus a host following an unavoidable cancellation from Caimh McDonnell, with Death playing himself and also acting as host. Unusually it was an all male line up, which was a surprise as I get the impression that a lot of effort goes into presenting as varied a panel as can be had. There was only one act present that I hadn’t seen before, but knowing the level of talent on the panel this didn’t concern me in the least.
Rob Mulholland (played by Death)
It seemed odd having Death play host as well as doing his usual role and whilst it worked, it didn’t work as well as having a host. I felt that it weakened Death somewhat, as he was quite a jovial host, even if obsessed with lemon and herb. I do prefer it when Death is on the sidelines, coming in with a killer line every so often. That way his impact and authority is always top notch. However, he was still very good comedic value, getting a lot of the best laughs (Buddha converted to Islam was brilliant and I’ve a feeling that will follow a certain contestant for a while) . Despite a hitch with the props, everything else went well. The format was explained and the odd part of the show was repeated for the benefit of the podcast recording. Death kept the night on schedule and ensured that the various rounds, (pitch, party broadcast, slogan, etc) were wrapped up before the contestants ran out of good material.
I’ve seen Gore twice before. Once at a showcase in Edinburgh, where he did very well and on Panelbeaters a while ago, where he had also had a good night. Tonight he stood out for three very good reasons. One, his material was dark and edgy, which fits in with the premise of the show. Two, he had put a lot of work into preparing for this and had bags of material to choose from on every topic and three, he was very funny. Gore didn’t quite dominate proceedings to the exclusion of the other contestants, but like Bennett two weeks ago, I feel that he had that much material he ended up restraining himself and deliberately foregoing some jokes in order to give other people chance to comment. Even so, it did seem that when each new round was announced the contestants would pause and wait for him to go first. The quality of his material was very strong, with only the odd miss, such as smoke alarm, which was a bit deep. A few jokes such as Pepsi can deserved a lot more. Gore was extremely good and is someone I’d definitely want to see more of.
Duggan had easily the most cerebral material of the panellists tonight. Some of this was just that bit too clever to be instantly funny, requiring a moment for the audience to get it. This was a shame because although not all of his material was as accessible as the other panellists, it was of a very high calibre. Duggan had a dry delivery, which worked very well with his material and although he was ultimately bumped off by Death, I very much enjoyed what I saw of him.
I was very pleased to see Quinne on the bill, but I will confess to expecting him to be more active during the first half, where he was relatively quiet (food bank was a definite standout, though). However, in second half he came to life in a big way and came out with a lot of great lines. ‘Sock’ was pretty grim, but also very funny and it was great just watching him banter with everyone else. Quinne did well, but I was expecting just that little bit more from him.
The last time I saw Bird was at Mike’s birthday party where he did a short set. I had enjoyed that and so I was curious to see how he’d do tonight. Like Gore he seemed to have loads of material and this was a big positive. As the buzzers were not available each contestant had to make their own noise and Bird was the only one who really transformed that into an opportunity. He chose ‘yes’ for his sound and the varying ways in which he inflected this simple word with emphasis was remarkably funny and since he fully committed to it for the entire show this became a very nice running joke. Out of all of the contestants Bird was probably the most consistently excellent with his answers, getting a laugh for almost everything he said. The only bit of his that I wasn’t keen on was the Dragon’s Den/shot gun joke, which I’ve heard a few versions of. In a nice touch he did the square thing with crediting Brent with suggesting a great line for him to use. This was a strong performance and he was chosen to be saved from Death.