Tonight I was in Southwell for the Funhouse comedy night. I had brought my aged parents with me to see the show, as there was something rather special about the line up that I wanted them to witness. Living only fifteen minutes away made this all very convenient for all of us. The comedy at the Admiral Rodney occurs in a rectangular room which is fairly large, but not huge and with a big sold out crowd the atmosphere was superb. When Spiky Mike asked who was up for some comedy and received a huge cheer, it was obvious that we were going to be in for a great night. Mike had a lovely time compering, making the most of a couple with a fair age gap on their first date who were fortuitously sat right under a bright light and he had tremendous fun with them before moving on to chat to the second smartest dressed man in the room. This was a gig more or less within walking distance for Mike and he seemed to have an extra spring in his step tonight. It was nice when my Old Man commented to me about how good the MC was, as these are often overlooked when it comes to praise.
Opening was Mark Maier, whom I had last seen at Jongleurs a while back. He’d had a good night then, despite it being a rowdy crowd, so I was expecting a good performance from him tonight in front of an up for it audience. He began with a callback to Mike’s conversation with the couple on the first date and used it as a way of linking in material. The routines he went with were good, with the various ups and downs of his life nicely chronicled. The standout line was an abbreviation which landed with no end of force. What impressed me the most about Maier was his delivery and the technical excellence of his set. The construction of this was fantastic. He managed to move from topic to topic seamlessly, leaving things hanging before looping back to them later and carrying on, there were callbacks aplenty and a sense of coherency to the whole that was very enjoyable. Maier has a very laid back delivery, appearing relaxed and chilled on stage. When speaking he elongates various syllables on words and where he places this stress imparts a lot of emphasis and makes his meaning very clear. In addition to this, Maier has a gift with accents, which he makes the most of and this added a certain richness to his delivery, bringing the characterisation of people to life. This was a clever set that was very funny.
Tavner began strongly with a reference to the smartly dressed man whom Mike had chatted to whilst compering. As the best dressed man in comedy, this made for a nicely visual opening and it was nice to see him get applause for it. The framework of his set concerned Tavner finding his way into adulthood and this gave a nice link for his routines. He did go a bit off piste when talking to an headmistress, but realising the conversation wasn’t going anywhere he managed to disentangle himself skilfully. Tavner isn’t that sweary, but a few fucks appeared in his set and these felt a bit odd, as he wasn’t using them to add emphasis or in an in your face kind of way, but more like a mid sentence slip of the tongue and he could have deleted each one without it making any difference to his set apart from adding an extra 30 seconds or so. This probably doesn’t matter one way or the other, but they just struck me as sounding a bit out of place. Ireland remains a solid banker, with a guaranteed laugh, but tonight I saw a new opera based closing routine and I liked it a lot (especially where he broke the 4th wall). This closing helped Tavner stand out. There is no shortage of white male comedians in their mid 30s; but one’s who can close with a short bit of opera? That is rare and more importantly very memorable. This was a very good performance and Tavner was sharper than when I’ve seen him previously. He was performing in a great room, but that wasn’t the sole reason why he did so well – he has improved since I saw him last and this was the best I’ve seen him.
If Lomas isn’t soon making a good living from doing comedy, then I’ll be amazed. Watching him perform is just sheer joy. Tonight, my mum and dad didn’t really know what to expect from him and so when he came to the stage I spent half my time watching their reaction to him. Lomas opened with just one word and my mum, plus the rest of the room immediately burst out laughing. Looking at the audience during his set, a good proportion of people spent most of their time doubled over with laughter and this was great to see. The delivery was grandiose; slow, deliberate and with a lot of forced pauses for the laughter to subside. The material was offbeat and the reveals unexpected, with every joke getting a laughter break and bare getting near enough two applause breaks, because when the first subsided it began anew and everyone joined in again. This was a tremendous performance and I’ve never seen my parents laugh so much in all of my life.
Fast talking Ulsterman, Mor, had been fully briefed on who was whom in the audience and what had happened so far during the night, so he hit the ground running and never looked back. Mor mixed material with audience work, with the material providing a loose base from which to work and probably 70% of his time was spent working the room. This mix worked extremely well and provided a nice contrast to the other acts on the bill. Mor was easily the most sweary comic of the night, using fuck a lot (never cunt, though), but because he exudes so much warmth and joie de vivre this worked in his favour. Mor charmed the audience and they were more than happy to open up to him regarding various preferences concerning muffs and to go with a new use for a Toblerone that he suggested, which became a pleasing running joke. There was a nice edginess to Mor’s work where one felt that he could take the room in any direction he chose and they’d willingly go there with him. This was a very strong performance.