Southwell – John Scott, Jack Campbell, Jenny Collier and Paul Sinha

Last night I was at the Admiral Rodney in Southwell for the Funhouse Comedy gig. It’s great to see a venue sold out like this; partly due to the presence of Paul Sinha on the bill, but mostly simply because it’s a well supported gig. Spiky Mike had a very good night compering, he had a real bounce in his step and loads of energy. He discovered a lady who worked for a local village hall and had some fun with her until he spoke to a gynaecologist, which led to a superb line about a ventriloquist act that he’d like to see. Very soon, the room was ready for the opening act.

John Scott

I’d persuaded my mum and dad to come to this gig mostly because Sinha was on the bill, but I had more than a sneaking suspicion that they’d enjoy Scott’s political comedy more. There are some very good political comedians in this country, but for my money, Scott, with his acute observations is one of the best. However, despite or probably because of there being so much politics in the news recently, Scott didn’t deliver a political set. He made a few probes in that direction, with comments about the DUP, but the room didn’t seem up for it and so he stayed more general in topic. As much as I was looking forwards to hearing his thoughts on the election, I think Scott made the correct decision and had read the room well. This was especially clear when he asked how Southwell had gone with Brexit and momentarily sparked a mini debate. The topics that Scott went with were getting old, his partner, health and Scotland and the result was a thoroughly enjoyable set. The backhanded insult stood out as a fantastic line. This was a set that built up a fair amount of impetus.

Jack Campbell

Campbell’s not an act that I see much of, despite him only being based in Leicester, so as a result, I perhaps see him once or twice a year. This means that it is easier to spot how he’s progressing. The last time I saw him was in Grantham and he’d improved then. This time he was even better. His material was noticeably stronger; not so much because he was talking about totally different topics, but more because it had become that bit more polished, with perhaps just the odd word changed here and there. His stage presence was greater, too. I would say his delivery was more confident, but that doesn’t really cover it; instead he was more forceful and he held the room a lot more easily. It was nice to see him talking to people and knowing who was whom; this made his set feel a lot more personal. Campbell would repeat the odd word, not as much as Fitzhigham who does this a lot, and I don’t think that this did him any harm at all. There were a lot of nice touches to this set, such as the joke about Southwell and the train names. This was a set that built up a lot of momentum and felt like it was going somewhere. It was also a set that seemed to end all too quickly. I dare say it will be another six months or so until I see Campbell again, but I’ll be looking forwards to seeing how much further he has improved in that time.

Jenny Collier

Collier with her big smile was an endearing presence. Her material concerned the Welsh language, farting, her self and a job that she had in London at a posh bathroom showroom. This latter routine formed the basis of a nice running joke as every so often she would pronounce words with added r’s. Her delivery was at a conversational level, which was pleasant but didn’t sell what she was saying as much as what she perhaps might have. Collier’s set hung together well, but it seemed to plateau early on and there wasn’t much of a feeling of it building. This doesn’t mean that it wasn’t enjoyable, because it was. She received consistent laughs and entertained people, but she would benefit from a big hard hitting joke. If her set were a television show, then it would be like The Detectorists – no one bust a gut laughing, but she quietly made the world a nicer place whilst she was on.

Paul Sinha

Sinha had a very good night. It began, however, with something of a first at a Funhouse gig: someone attempting to film a comedian at work. I was amazed to see this, as was I think Sinha. In fairness, the filmer was young, drunk and perhaps a first timer at a gig, so she didn’t realise that this wasn’t on and as she was sat on the front row it was immediately obvious what was afoot. Sinha dealt with this politely and firmly and then made a joke about it which got the room back and also emphasised where the sympathy of the audience lay. The rest of the performance went very smoothly, with him delivering an autobiographical set. Despite the ups and downs of his life, the tone of this stayed upbeat and optimistic and as well as being funny, I think he managed to lift people with his happiness. There were a lot of references in this set that required the audience to have a moment of work to get them and this was lovely. I like it when you have to think about the material to get the most from it. This was a good set and closed off a very nice night.

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