This has been a superb month for comedy. I’ve seen 42 performances and the highlight of this month was two brilliant English Comedian of the Year heats. In fact, the standard of competitor in these events has made it extremely difficult to narrow down my list of who has impressed me the most. It’s nice to see comedians visibly improve their acts and both Brian Bell and Jack Topher deserve credit for having strongly improved their performances and being unrecognisable from what I’ve seen before.
There haven’t been any real low lights this month, which was nice.
These are the acts that have impressed me the most this month:
Despite not placing in this heat of English Comedian of the Year, Kehoe has definitely got it and the more I think about his set in the fortnight that has passed since I saw it, the more I’m admiring it. I can see him doing very well in comedy.
From the night:
Kehoe was an act I’d not seen before and his set was a lovely surprise. He took to the stage wearing a visually arresting jacket and with his beard and hairstyle, this made him visually interesting, which gave him something of a head start in grabbing the audience. However, it was his material and delivery that impressed me the most. He was almost Wrigglesworth like in his ability to make a long and fairly verbose set up fascinating to listen to. Usually a long set up risks losing people, but instead, I was really enjoying listening to his vivid descriptions and they were a real benefit to his performance. The material was rock solid and uniquely original, with triathlon and spiders extremely well thought out. This was a very strong set that if it had been performed earlier would have received more votes than it did. Kehoe is obviously someone to watch for the future.
One of those lovely surprises you occasionally find at a gong show, an act that is already polished and ready for bigger rooms.
From the night:
Callaghan has a clear delivery and good diction, plus an air of boyish good humour about him and he looked plausible from his opening line. He had put some thought into which town to use for the shit town and wisely chose a local rival town, so this worked admirably. The routines were well written and showed a lot of intelligence behind the comedy. There was scarcely anything said that didn’t add value to the performance. Callaghan did well to get a laugh from an incest joke, as he was the 4th act of the night to have one and this could have put him on a sticky wicket. The theft routine was extremely powerful and was a highlight of the night, although it was his inside joke that earned him the applause break. This one was as clever as it was funny. Callaghan was the well deserved winner of the night and I suspect I’ll be seeing him doing ten spots very soon as he’s already more than bookable.
A superb act who didn’t put a foot wrong.
From the night:
Headlining was Pete Firman, a comedy magician who had a great balance between comedy and magic. Unlike a lot of magical acts, he avoided doing any tricks that involved mind reading or guessing a word on a page and this was a welcome change. Firman made a positive impression on the audience through his bright and buoyant persona and his patter between and whilst performing the tricks was very funny in itself. There was very little he said that didn’t add comedy value to what he was doing; his asides were grand. A lot of what he said would have read on a script as being quite salacious, but with his tongue firmly in his cheek he easily stayed on the right side with it and this added to the fun. The tricks were a solid mixture of card, handkerchief and vanishing audience possessions and he sold them magnificently – we were in the presence of a real showman. The closing trick, which involved borrowing a ten pound note from Ken, before getting him up on stage to find it, was gloriously inexplicable and ended the show on a huge high. It’s very rare to see people standing up to applaud, but Firman fully deserved it.
Kohli destroyed the room. This was a barnstormer performance.
From the night:
Kohli completely ripped it. From his opening line to his closing gesture, he didn’t put a foot wrong and he was voted through as winner by a landslide. The material was punchy, it was delivered with loads of energy and enthusiasm in a way that made it look like Kohli was having a great time and in a small room like this, it was impossible for the audience not to respond with the same enthusiasm. I was particularly impressed with Kohli asking a non-rhetorical question of the audience – these can be a total minefield at the best of times and in a completion, with the clock ticking away, they are a high risk move. Luck was with Kohli, as there were three jocks present in the room and this made his Scotland routine feel almost as if it had been laid on specially for them and this gave it a massive feeling of immediacy and relevance. Kohli’s stagecraft was also worthy of note. His hands and arms seemed to be really in touch with his brain and he’d use them to emphasise whatever he was saying. This was an amazingly good set and he went through with only one person in the room not having him as one of their favourite acts of the night.