Tonight I was in Ashby for the Funhouse comedy night at the Lyric Rooms. As usual the night was pretty much sold out and anyone arriving late would have been hard pushed to find a seat, especially if they arrived in a group. Mike had fun compering, enquiring about how people’s Christmas shopping was going, but he really hit his stride with a chap who was a member of a barber’s shop singing troupe. He was one of sixty five members of Grand Central Chorus and a former Elvis impersonator, so in the second section, Mike had him up on stage to sing a minute or so of an Elvis song, which soon had everyone waving their arms aloft and joining in.
We opened with Duncan Oakley, who is a solid and dependable act. He is also a comic whose set shows imagination, is tightly worded, he has visual gags and some great asides. This is a very technically adept performance. I enjoyed his opening and his tease with the guitar, the short jokes were very funny and his crowd work was impressive. What I wasn’t so keen on, personally, was the musical side (flamenco seemed a bit too long for my taste), but then I’ve never been a huge fan of music or musical comedy. However, I can certainly admire someone who can do it so well and Oakley is top notch at it. This was a good set that went down very well with the audience.
We resumed after the intermission with Glaswegian Rosco McClelland, who was a lively and affable presence. This was only a short ten spot and I’d like to have seen more. His material concerned trips to Ireland and Australia, marriage, meat, some room work and prop gags. This was a fast moving set that covered a lot of ground and stayed fresh. On the downside, because he didn’t seem to spend too long on any subject (not easy in ten minutes, admittedly) a lot of the topics felt like we were being given a snapshot, rather than all he might have had to say about them and I’d like to have heard more about a few of them. His actions in miming kicking and batting when delivering a couple of knowingly cheesy gags helped to sell them and even if this is used by a few too many comics to make them fresh they added to him building momentum. This was a nicely buoyant performance that everyone enjoyed and I’m sure we’ll see more of him down here.
Next was Clint Edwards, whom I last saw at a tricky gig in Grantham. He began by checking the demographics of the room, asking for cheers from various groups and whilst this wasn’t hugely funny in itself (although the end joke worked well), it certainly built up the energy levels. The material was well thought out and luckily he kept the sections involving porn and drugs until after he had established himself with the room, as the audience here doesn’t always seem that up for those topics from the off. Although having said that, despite its timely nature, I’m not sure they were fully with him for the routine about consent. Of his material, I especially enjoyed the various tests that he had undertaken, as this was totally fresh as a topic. BBC was also strong and generated a nice round of applause for him. I also appreciated the callback to drop down. It was nice to see that Edwards had been listening to the previous performances, as he knew who was sat where and was able to talk to these people by name. The closing routine was a definite joy and Edwards delivered this wonderfully, dropping his voice and taking his time with it, which built up a lot of comedic tension. There was a bit of a feel of a suppressed weekend club set in this performance (lots of cheering, porn and drugs, etc), but that is to take nothing away from it. This was a very good performance.
We closed the night with Pail Sinha, who is possibly one of the most patient and generous minded artists I’ve seen – he allowed quite a few people to take selfies with him before he went on, when most comics would be busy getting themselves into gear. When he took to the stage he quickly had the room within his grasp. He began with a bit of material about being on The Chase, which ticked that box for people who had come to see him through having watched him on it and as it was all very funny, this helped to demonstrate to anyone else that he was performing through merit, rather on the strength of his fame. This was an intelligent and largely autobiographical set with some superb lines, such as Nostradamus. Although the line that received the biggest laugh was an ad-lib when Mike went to get him a glass of water and Sinha described him as being a ‘badly dressed ninja’, which the entire room enthusiastically got behind. There was a nice sprinkling of new material in this set and there wasn’t anything that felt as if it hadn’t been thoroughly considered before inclusion. The banter/sex comment received a lovely round of applause. This performance was delivered with sincerity and in addition to being funny, rather uplifting, too.