Blessington Carriage – Tom King, Lindsey Santoro, Matt Smith, Anthony Ayton, Scott Bennett and Alasdair Beckett-King

Tonight I was in Derby for the Funhouse comedy night at the Blessington Carriage. There was a lovely crowd present who were definitely up for a night of laughter. There was a group of nine there, eight of whom who were more than happy to shop the one person who’d never been before and so this led into Mike having a lot of fun with her. One of the highlights of Mike’s compering was him chatting with a witty dustbin lorry driver, who had a few funny comments, but who was also wise enough not to push it too far. This was a great night of comedy, where every single act did very well. Our opening act was Tom King.

Tom King

The last time I saw King it had been where he had won a competition at a totally crazy night in Chesterfield. Here the MC had received more than he wanted when he had asked a boxer to punch him, one act had called the audience a bunch of c**** in a high risk move that didn’t pay off, one comic had stripped naked when he died and another had started his set in his pants in an ironic callback to this that worked a treat. So naturally, it was nice to see King at a more normal night and this was one where he had everyone onboard from the first gag. The opening song was followed by a nicely only for that audience line about where they had seen him previously that was really in the moment and was an instant hit. Testosterone was a nice line and it was good to hear material about The Pusher, a topic that only Moorhouse has done material on so far. King’s take was highly different to that and whilst it is already a good routine, I believe that he could add to it and make it a real standout. Unusually there were a few erms in the delivery, but not enough to be a problem. This was a set that included songs, lookalike insults, jokes and lists and as a result it seemed to be constantly and refreshingly moving forwards and never came close to outstaying its’ welcome. The only downside was that there wasn’t a big ending, but I rather feel that King ran out of time before he got to that. This was a very enjoyable performance and I’d like to see King doing some longer sets.

Lindsey Santoro

I saw Santoro performing in a bunker in early September and whilst she’d not had a bad night there I could see definite improvement had taken place between the gigs and this was nice to see. There were some good lines in this set. Ring is superb, the first poem was good, birth was fun, sample tied in nicely to King’s material (a shame it wasn’t referenced) and the bath was a cracking routine. The delivery was smooth and endearing too, which the audience appreciated. However, I wasn’t keen on Jeremy Kyle’s holding pen coming into play as too many other comics have used this line. A lot of the material featured arses and foos, which over ten minutes wasn’t a problem, but over a longer set a bit more variety may keep it from sounding like a variation on a theme. Santoro had a good night and received a lot of laughs.

Matt Smith

We resumed after the intermission with Matt Smith whom I last saw about 18 months or so ago and I could see how in the meantime he had chopped and changed his set for the better. It was a bit odd seeing him on the same bill as Tom King, as they are both big burly chaps with big beards and I’m sure if they’d swapped clothes the audience would have mistook them. Smith toyed with the audience, doing deliberately long set ups before hitting them with the reveal. On the one hand, this built up the tension, but I did think he came close to losing the room with the time he took over chips. However, when he finally got to the punchline of that it hit the room like a sledgehammer, getting a huge laugh and a lot of applause. I can see his style working well, although I still think it wouldn’t hurt for the set ups to have a bit more humour in them. Smith closed his set off with style.

Anthony Ayton

Ayton had a buoyant delivery that helped him sell his material. However, he didn’t really say a lot that hasn’t already been said by other people. Being used as a spokesman has been done by Caton, having nothing worth nicking in the 1950’s by Carrott, although he chose a mangle as the object and a tall comedian talking about what people say to them about their height has been done by most comics over 6’3. This familiarity didn’t help Ayton, but luckily his likeability and delivery ensured that he entertained the audience. This was a good set, despite the topics having been done by others. I’d be very interested in seeing what Ayton could do with more unique material; I’ve a feeling it would be impressive.

Scott Bennett

I only saw Bennett the other day where he had run through his hour show, so I’ll keep this brief. The purpose of tonight was for him to hone some new material and as this was Scott Bennett this meant that it was already excellent. There were the odd bits that he might dispense with or alter, but these were few and far apart. This was a smashing set that the audience loved.

Alasdair Beckett-King

King is visually interesting and this gives him a great gateway into his set, as it is all instantly relatable. He is also audibly nicely different – his soft accent and cultured voice is wonderfully disarming and one instantly knows that he isn’t going to be picking on anyone. Beckett-King reminded me a bit of Wrigglesworth as they are both wordsmiths and have a fantastic command of the English language. One difference is that Wrigglesworth does long routines and Beckett-King shorter, more punchy ones. This was a very intelligent set and I think that audiences find it rewarding when they have to work a bit to get all of the jokes. There were a lot of outstanding routines, with rare creatures being superb, as was the dictionary definition. I especially enjoyed the depiction of the window scene, which although slightly macabre was bloody funny. This set was delivered with a quiet panache and Beckett-King will go far.

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