Oakham – Lindsey Santoro, Ken Grinnell, Adam Coumas, Katie Mitchell, Red Redmond and Richard Massara (MC)

Tonight I was in Oakham for the NCF Comedy night. This takes place in the well appointed cellar/bunker of a rather nice pub. With a dozen or so people there is a decent atmosphere, with twenty it is even better and full to capacity I can imagine that it is electric. The ceiling is low, which did make me concerned that our MC would bang his head if he stood up straight.

Richard Massara (MC)

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.

Lindsey Santoro

Santoro began by asking Corrine about cat grooming in a callback to Massara’s compering and this wasn’t a bad start, but it perhaps needed a bit more to make it funnier. This was followed by material that was based upon her life. Santoro’s description of where she lives as being like ‘the holding pen for the Jeremy Kyle show’ was a nice line, but one that is devalued through so many people using it, although in fairness it still got a laugh. I also had mixed feelings about the online dating routine, as similarly, that is an area that a lot of comics have done material on. However, triangle was good, ring size was superb and the closing routine about the bath was solid. Santoro’s delivery was quiet and low key, which brought the audience into what she was saying. This wasn’t a bad set, but with a few improvements, it could be stronger.

Ken Grinnell

Rather embarrassingly, I’m not sure that I’ve got the name of this act correct, as this is what I saw wrote down, but I can’t find any trace of him to confirm it. So apologies, if I have got it wrong, as he had a good night. He began by discussing his background and the unlikely ethnicity appearance which it resulted in. This was followed by a short set where he talked about food and school toilets. The suffering in silence line was very nice and the description of the toilets was vivid enough to come to life. I did think, though, that even in context the bleach line was a bit bloodthirsty. This was a set that was very easy to listen to, although it would have benefited from a big closing routine. Oddly, he only did 6-7minutes and it would have been nice to have seen more of him, because this was going well.

Adam Coumas

We resumed after the intermission with the excellent Adam Coumas. He got off to a flying start and never really looked back. He was lively, enthusiastic, looked over the moon to be there and he won the audience round swiftly. I was initially a bit concerned that his set would be London-centric, but he was smart enough when mentioning the various areas to give them a context, showing why he was talking about them. This is a huge step up from London acts that assume people north of Watford know all about Shepherd’s Bush and the like. As a result, the audience never lost their sense of the what and why of his material and it remained accessible. Whilst this set was delivered with skill, the material itself was also convincing and this was a ten spot that seemed to fly by. The closing routine ended his set on a climax.

Katie Mitchell

Mitchell had a good night, but as I only saw her and reviewed her the night before, it’s hardly fair to review her the next day, too.

Red Redmond

Our headline act was Red Redmond, who like Coumas experienced the room warming to him almost instantaneously. Red’s material had a natural feel to it and it flowed smoothly. The flat mate was the stand out and he delivered this perfectly. Red managed to stand totally still, staring into the distance, unblinking and apparently on a different place of existence, as he did the routine. When the the long pauses are factored in, he did well on a physical level to avoid blinking or moving for such a long period; comedically, this routine built up massive amounts of comic tension. The pants gag was fun, but I wasn’t quite so keen on the line about the cat. The choice of closing routine was interesting and although perhaps not quite as pushing the envelope as he sold it, still funny and a nice way to close off the show. This was a great performance and one that everyone enjoyed.

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