This has been a very enjoyable month for comedy and I’ve managed to see 58 acts this month.
The highlight was Harvey Hawkins’ performance at the Grosvenor where he gave the room ten minutes of exceptionally good comedy. The lowlight was a veteran gong show act who used old stolen jokes of the calibre of ‘….has a zoo with only one animal in it – it’s a shit zoo!’
These are the acts who have impressed me the most this month:
This is a comedian who is very much on the way up.
From the night:
There is a fair bit of a buzz surrounding Harvey Hawkins and so I was especially interested in seeing how he did tonight. He began with a fairly long set up to a joke and this was worth it because the pay off was powerful enough to establish his credentials with the audience and I don’t think he ever came close to their attention wavering after that. Part of this was due to going on in the sweet middle section, but a lot was down to ability on Hawkins’ part. His material was very well written, with plenty of twists to the reveals. I thoroughly enjoyed how he took the old phrase of ‘tell you a bit about me’ and changed it into something original and funny and for him to get a second bite from that was even more impressive. Hawkins’ delivery was smooth and whilst I really did enjoy his previous style of standing there looking awkward and wooden, his new style works very well indeed. This set was too short for my liking. I was sorry to see him leave the stage after his time and I wouldn’t have objected in the least to more.
Puns galore and a great performance.
From the night:
Lee, the second Geordie in a row, is a very strong one-liner act, who probably doesn’t get as much work as his talent deserves due to geographical reasons. Tonight he opened with a pun ad-libbed from Mike’s compering and never really looked back from there. Despite having a sore throat, his forceful delivery (he probably didn’t need the mic) gave his already good puns added punch. This was a set with a lot of laughter. The only bit I wasn’t too sure of was the Reluctant Cowboy, which in a longer set would provide a welcome change of pace, but which in this ten spot, whilst good, probably gave him one laugh (albeit good) in the time he could have gotten three or four with his puns. That was my only minor quibble in what was a great set.
Lynn Ruth Miller
A solid set from someone who is a comedian, rather than some kind of novelty.
From the night:
Headlining the night was Lynn Ruth Miller, originally from Ohio and now living in London – Ohio’s loss is our gain. I’ve seen a fair few comedians of advancing years and quite often their material is centred upon being old and so I was very curious to see what Miller had to offer. A lot of her routines were related to her age, but where she differed from other comedians approaching her age, is that she does it a lot better than anyone else. She’s sharper and her jokes have more depth than just being about old age – there is an extra oomph to what she is saying. Part of this comes from the surprise at how near the knuckle a lot of her topics are and how she isn’t afraid to choose words that say very clearly what she means, but just as much comes from her vivid descriptions. These bring what she is saying to life. Also, Miller’s delivery is skilful. She was quite happy using a chap sat on the front row as a potential beau and she would address members of the audience personally, which helped what she was saying hit home (plus it kept everyone attentive, as no one would wish to be caught napping if addressed). I got to the punchline before her on a couple of gags, such as the 33 Ford and the closing joke might have been a touch stronger, but these are minor things. Ironically, for an act who based so much of her material on her age, I found that her best jokes weren’t related to that. Tiger Woods and being a hutch were both fantastic lines. This was a very enjoyable performance.
Richard Massara (MC)
A performance that encompassed good compering skills, but which also featured some very strong routines, too.
From the night:
Massara worked hard to get the gig going, and in an echo of Gray last night, made a point of chatting to everyone on his way to the stage. To begin with he used a well dressed chap called Steve as his foil, but after he was played out he moved onto Corrine and then a nun (unlikely, but there was a nun in mufti present), whilst regularly bringing into play a lady whom he crowned as the Queen of Oakham. This worked pretty well and there was a lovely moment when he informed a lass that that he hadn’t got a lazy eye and was indeed talking to her, to which she innocently asked if he meant her, which proved his point in the funniest way. For the second section, Massara went with material and this was of an excellent standard and whilst arguably he may have done longer than necessary the material was so good that no one minded. It was interesting to see a small routine about vaping, as that has been a curiously neglected topic. His final section was also strong, with some good puns. This was a not only a well rounded performance, but also something of a shop window for what Massara can do and I was very impressed. I’d like to see him do a full set.