January is always something of a slow month for comedy and I’ve only seen 35 performances. However, by and large, the standard was great. The highlight was undoubtedly seeing Scott Bennett trying to perfect what is already damn nigh perfect. The only real disappointment was an act who misjudged a room and launched into a lot of sexual content before they had warmed to him.
These are the acts who have impressed me the most this month:
Paul Savage (MC)
This was pretty much a class in how to compere a room. He didn’t put a foot wrong.
From the night:
It’s been a while since I’d seen Paul and so I was looking forwards to watching him work and tonight he delivered the best balance between material and room work that I’ve seen in a MC for a long time. He began with some strong material to gain credibility with the audience and then he moved into working the room before mixing the two. This worked incredibly well and he received great laughs. I’m not generally a fan of drugs based material, as it’s a subject that I’ve no affinity for, but Savage made it not only tangible, but as it didn’t involve tales of a chemically assisted past, it was easier to get onboard with. He struck lucky with Jack, sat on the front row, who had recently resigned/been fired after shutting people in a vault and Paul showed a deft touch with leaving this unexplained as an explanation would have probably eaten up time and it would have been hard to top the basic fact of shutting people in a vault. It was nice to see a compere ask people about hobbies, as this was a nice change to the name, location and job that so many work with. Savage had a great time and was a real asset to the night.
This comedian is going to go a long way.
From the night:
Headlining was Bennett, an act whom I’m seeing a lot of at the moment and the more I see of him, the more I like it. I’m not the only person who can think that, as amongst a roomful of people pissing themselves laughing, there were at least three who spent a lot of his set doubled over from it. He began by chatting with the lads on the front row and demonstrated that he is razor sharp with his wit, getting big laughs within seconds of looking at them for the first time. From here he went into some new material that I’d not heard before and there was a lot of good stuff in there. The word play was lovely and I’m not surprised there was applause for it. There were two bits I thought might be improved and that was to change out enjoyed for felt guilty as I think it would be more sympathetic and to name a specific brand of crisp. Beyond the solid material, Bennett is an incredible performer. He knows when to raise his voice to add emphasis and when to break the 4th wall and deliver an aside to the audience. This was a smashing set.
Special Mention: Oscar Roberts
This was a first ever performance for Roberts and on the strength of it I think he’s well worth booking by anyone willing to give a brand new act a chance.
From the night:
We resumed after the intermission with a first timer, Oscar Roberts, who is only 17 and looks so much younger I’m surprised he didn’t have trouble getting into the venue. Mike gave him a big build up and the audience were fully prepared to support him. Sometimes this can result in an inexperienced act being kept on longer than is warranted simply not to upset them. However, tonight Roberts fully deserved his stage time. He has the rhythm of a trans-Atlantic act and I shouldn’t be surprised if he is a big fan of Netflix comedy specials. This rhythm stood him in good stead as he delivered some very well thought out material that managed to be relatable, tangible and funny all in the same breath. Roberts understandably looked a bit nervous, but was confident enough to ask the audience to back him up on things, which helped to bring people further into his set and mitigated some of the harm caused by him not making much eye contact with people. In addition, his mic technique requires a bit of work, as he held it way too low, but that will come with time and is a minor point. This was a well constructed set, with some very nice callbacks and a good turn of phrase. Roberts made it through to the final with ease, being one of the few acts to get applause and although he didn’t win tonight, he definitely has a lot of potential and should gig as often as he can.
Charlie Gascoyne, Costas Lukaris, Craig Dixon, Dan Barnes, Lauren Walsh,