Tonight I was back in Nottingham for the NCF £1 night at the Canal House. A show that continues to go from strength to strength. This was another sold out evening and even arriving fifteen minutes early, I was without a seat for the first section, being stood at the back where the acoustics made it hard to hear everything clearly. As always with Canal House, this was a great night.
Will Hutchby (MC)
Hutchby managed to combine a good level of energy with a laid back comfortable approach and this made him a genial compere. He exuded a level of calmness that was quite relaxing and he wasn’t even fazed when a banner worked its way loose and came crashing down 2′ behind him. He just milked it for laughs and then continued his work. He was assisted in his room work by being an unthreatening relaxed presence and no one was afraid that he would humiliate them, so he got quite a bit out of the audience. He found a chap who had developed a board game (Full Moon Jacket) and Hutchby was wise enough to bail quickly when it became apparent that the explanation behind it was going to be a complex cul de sac. When it came to the man who had a game called ‘Exploding Kittens’ Hutchby’s moment of WTF silence was very well timed. Out of his material, I liked allocated parking, but felt that we never really got into super rats. Hutchby has an infectious giggle that was quite endearing – it’s nice to see compere’s having a good time whilst they work. This was a good booking.
Usually when I see Draper at the Canal House he is either closing it, or doing new material and as he was down as opener it was easy to work out which of the two to expect. The new material was as you’d expect, something of a mixed bag. Swearing was good, pervert better than good, the photos showed promise, but I wasn’t too sure about the donkey. There’s something there in the concept, but it needs more work in the first two sections of that, but that’s new material for you. In fairness to Draper, I did struggle to hear some of what he was saying, which I thought was down to the speakers at first, but after enquiries I discovered that the acoustics in that part of the room aren’t great. As always, it was a pleasure to see Draper on stage.
Whilst facebook posts aren’t a reliable guide to how funny someone will be on stage, Grimshaw’s are funny enough to serve as a bit of a shop window for him and so I was looking forwards to seeing him perform. This was new material and it was good stuff. The telly application was a great start with some clever subverting of the questions. The short set up and then the reveal certainly helped him to generate some momentum. The job application that followed was perhaps too similar for that place in his running order and would have been better with more of a gap, but I think that was due to it being new material, rather than an established set order. I really liked the press release premise and felt that he got a lot out of it. With a bit of poetic licence, this routine could gain longevity as the original idea can be modified to fit almost any event in the news, or even a made up event as long as it is plausible. This was an impressive set from a comic whom I can see progressing.
I last saw Wright at Bluey’s where he had delivered a very strong performance and so I was rather pleased to see him on the bill. He opened tonight with a dark, but very funny joke and this gave him instant comic credibility. I especially enjoyed his short routine about religious status’ as it was very recognisable and it was nice to see him get one of the few applause breaks of the night. Every so often he would dip into darker material and this was all good stuff and just as importantly, he didn’t stay dark, he used it sparingly and so it was all the more welcome when he did so. The standout of his set and one that stood out as being a cut above most of the routines of the show, was Wright’s travel advice. Even with a lady from Chile commenting on his Spanish, this was superb. Wright’s jokes managed to have a logic to them that makes them easy to follow for the audience, but which never veered into being predictable. There were a couple of pauses between routines, which added a bit of dead time, but this is a very minor thing and didn’t interfere with what was a very good set.
Next was the birthday girl, Rosie Francis, who almost sprinted onto the stage. Tonight she was trying out some new material. I liked her new opening, which whilst perhaps not as immediately funny as her older one, is definitely more unique (celeb hard life lookalike openings are a bit overdone). There was some nice stuff on display, but both the responses to the toilet situation and prosecco faults had a couple too many examples to maintain momentum – a case of too much of a good thing. The elephant man reference might be one to drop, as that film isn’t as familiar as it might have been a few years ago. It would have been nice to see a twist in the final items of the lists, as this would have added extra laughs. The rap closing routine was very good. This set was new material and there is plenty to build on from it.
Johnson was a lively presence, being full of energy and delivering her set with verve. There were some good lines, such as vouchers (she could have made more of the callback), Masterchef and DIY. However, this was a set that whilst it never completely split the audience, definitely had more in it for the ladies than the gents. Johnson would be well suited to performing at hen nights or Ann Summer’s parties, as a lot of her material struck a particular chord with the ladies, rather than both sexes. The material largely centred on booze, bodily functions, pubes, porn and foofs and after five minutes this began to feel a bit relentless. Despite the imbalance of her topics and the set being in need of editing down to the essentials, Johnson received good laughs and applause. However, she massively overran. This was a ten spot that ended up a very long twenty, with Helen impersonating a lighthouse with all of the flashing she was doing with her phone. Johnson didn’t notice the flashing and it was only after the house lights were all turned on that she started to finish the routine that she was on. This set would have worked better as a ten.
I was extremely pleased to see that Moore was headlining tonight. Even doing new material, it’s something of a treat to see him and with solid TV and Wireless credits to his name, he’s a great booking for all concerned. This material was quite raw, but there was plenty to like in it. Neighbourly disputes has a lot of potential to it although I couldn’t help but think that slow talking might work better in front of the price, rather than after. Drones is a topic that I’ve not heard much on and so that was especially nice to hear a bit about. Missing persons was good, but I was surprised that Spartacus didn’t get more and it made me feel a bit old in a young audience when it didn’t get a big laugh. The established material went down extremely well, with tasering being excellent. When it came to Moore’s closing routine, I was hoping for ‘The Head’ as that remains probably the funniest routine that I’ve ever heard, but I was still pleased when he went with material about Stevie. This was a fun set.