Tonight I took my mum and dad to Southwell to the Funhouse Comedy Night. I was especially interested in them seeing Roger Swift as it is an experience, but naturally the rest of the bill was also an attractive prospect, too. The seating had been slightly rearranged to give a better view of the stage and at first I thought that that might have been done to make Roger’s props more visible, but on reflection, I think it may have been done to fit more customers in, as this was a sold out gig. It was nice to see Nick Mellors there with a party of friends, but the star of the audience was a deaf James Brown lookalike called Denny, who was very funny in his own right. Mike had a lot of fun chatting to him and very quickly the room was up for the comedy. In addition to the show, there was also a charity collection for the Homeless, which was well supported by the audience.
Opening was Sean Percival who continued his 100% record of smashing every room I’ve seen him perform in. He came to the stage and immediately started in top gear and he bounded through his set, building up no end of momentum. There was a lot of laughter and the room thoroughly enjoyed him. I really appreciated his audience work with Denise who was sat on the front row, who is now the owner of a new nickname. This was a very good set that was delivered with lots of energy.
We resumed after the intermission with Roger Swift, who tonight didn’t so much split the room as polarise it. Normally there is a middle who would quietly enjoy the performance, but not tonight; it was all one or the other. Some people were laughing at what he was wearing before he had even begun and this section of the crowd were with him. They enjoyed his set immensely, laughing at the jokes, with the prop gags getting bigger laughs than the puns. The other half of the room, surprisingly for such a comedy literate audience, didn’t ever seem to get what the set was about, missing the irony and staying resolutely miserable. This was a bit odd, as there are some great gags in this set and I’ve seen it slay rooms before. However, the audience here is quite senior and I do wonder if that might have been a factor in there not being enough people going with it for Roger to get to critical mass. I enjoyed watching Swift and so did my mum. Whilst Roger was putting his props away he managed to smash the glass of a woman who hadn’t enjoyed his set, making it even less likely that he would ever get a Christmas card from her.
McCole was a radical change of pace to the swiftly moving Roger and the energetic delivery of Percival, but this didn’t do him any harm. He opened by chatting a bit about where he was from, which owing to the Monopoly analogy was easily tangible. He then followed this by two pretty long stories. These were both very well thought out, with lots of little laughs along the way before they built up to a climax and received big laughs. McCole held the room easily whilst telling them and I was especially impressed by his tone of voice on ‘really?‘ which sold that line extremely well. He did have a bit of a tic in saying ‘right’ a lot, which is something to perhaps think about. McCole gave the room a good show, working in some very nice callbacks to Roger’s performance and received big laughs. In a nice move, which I don’t think he knows I saw, on his way out, he put a tenner into the charity collection, which I think was a lovely thing for him to do.
Headlining was Dominic Holland, who had had a superb gig when I last saw him in Ashby. The audience in Southwell are never rude, but can sometimes get lively and tonight they were lively. When Holland took to the stage he opened with a few intelligent comments about the venue and then mentioned that it had taken him 4-5 hours to drive there, which immediately resulted in a shout of ‘Tha should have got a train, youth!’ This was then answered by someone on the other side of the room who pointed out that there wasn’t a station in Southwell. Whilst this was occurring Holland stood, mouth comically open, rotating so that the room could take in his expression. He managed to nail a look of surprise, despair and a request to be beamed up all in one, which went down a storm. This was then followed by a set that was wonderfully dry, sarcastic, tightly written and splendidly performed. I thought that the way he discussed his eldest sons career was funnier in Ashby, where his most well known job was kept till last, but considering just how famous Tom now is,I doubt that it would still work that way, as the surprise is no longer there. Holland mixed his material with some very powerful room work and this kept everything fresh and moving. Probably the highlight of the set and indeed of the night, was when Holland was wrapping up, discussing the show and his 4-5 hour journey back down South. As soon as he mentioned his journey time, his friend from earlier informed him, ‘Tha should have took that train!’ which got both laughter and applause. This was a brilliant performance.