This has been an absolutely superb month for comedy. I’ve seen fifty or so acts and the quality has been amazing. Putting together the list of who has impressed me the most this month has been fiendishly difficult. As always, acts who I have included in recent months are time barred for a while.
The highlight of the month was undoubtedly seeing Andrew Bird on Tuesday and then Scott Bennett on the Wednesday. Both are at the top of their game and both took the roof off. Between them, they gave me a real buzz of enjoyment and days later I’m still chuckling at their material. The lowlight was a first timer who was dreadful beyond even what you would expect from someone who had never done it before. I don’t expect a lot from a first gig and can forgive much, but this was appalling. I’m still buggered if I can see how he could have thought there was anything funny in it.
The acts that have impressed me the most this month:
An absolutely cracking act who held the room spellbound.
From the night:
Andrew Bird is an absolutely top-notch act whom I don’t see that much of. On Saturday night he was supporting Michael McIntyre in an arena and tonight he was enjoying the intimacy of a small room gig. He began with some instantly relatable comments about the pub he was performing in and these went down a treat with the regulars. This was followed by a number of fairly long routines that just built and built – the sort of routines that whilst you are hoping for more, you just know that the next one will be equally as good. The gig in Bridlington was a gift that just kept giving and the story of the pub and Bird’s last drink was absolutely fantastic. This was a set with a lot of highlights and I came close to hurting myself laughing. Bird can describe a scene better than most people, but he does it very economically with the amount of time and words he uses, managing to get more out of a dozen words than a lot of acts could get out of twice as many. His eye for toppers to lines and that extra bit of detail that sends a joke into the stratosphere is remarkable. This was an absolutely smashing performance.
Ben Briggs (MC)
Whilst people talk about how dark Briggs can go, he doesn’t get enough credit for the intelligence he brings to his performance.
From the night:
Back by popular demand, Briggs made the night a success. He took a small crowd of individuals and formed them into an audience, speaking to everyone in the room whilst doing so. From Rich and co sat at the front, to the group from Coventry come to see Carter, he took in everyone for his sharp comments, including myself who received some fair observations. There was a real feel of a community being formed by Briggs and he didn’t put a foot wrong. Briggs is an edgy comic, but not in a self-conscious way, more in having a natural interest in seeing how far he can push the envelope. However, this is allied to a first class comedic brain and he has the knack of knowing just how far he can go without going too far. Briggs has no lack of bravery either, being happy to take to the floor between the two middle spots to ask the lads at the bar, 30′ away to keep the noise down and to keep at it until they did so – a lot of other comperes would probably not have wished to pursue the matter, or would have made a token attempt and left the lads to it, but Ben saw it through. The audience took Briggs to their hearts and his hard work made it possible for the other comedians to perform as they did.
A great act who is on the way up.
From the night:
Next was Hutchinson an act who came on in leaps and bounds last year. He came to the stage with a loud voice and bags of energy. I really enjoy Hutchinson’s delivery; his short and sharp sentences hammer home what he is saying. In addition to this, his performance took in every side of the room, with the audience arrayed around the stage in a horseshoe shape – he played to every angle, leaving no-one left out. The material was sharp, with plenty of unexpected reveals and everything worked like a dream. This was a set that seemed to skate on applause throughout its’ length. I was particularly impressed with Hutchinson getting the name of the local rival city right, as I’ve heard a few unorthodox choices over the years. It was fun looking about the audience as Hutchinson was in the midst of his romantic routine and seeing that everyone was 100% focussed upon him. This was a smashing set.
A skilled up and coming act.
From the night:
Closing the night was Salisbury, a skilled act who living in Hull, probably doesn’t get the recognition or gigs that his ability entitles him to. He began by building some energy, not needing the microphone for this and then he followed with three fast jokes. This was enough to establish his credentials as closer and from here he held the room in a way that seemed effortless. The material was well considered and it had a natural rhythm to it with no odd leaps in logic or topics to interrupt the flow. I especially enjoyed the voodoo curse material and I wouldn’t have objected to hearing more on that as it seemed so unusual to really entice me into it. Salisbury was quick on his feet mentally and when talking about the differences between lads and ladies nights out he spotted three lads helpless with laughter, who had obviously seen something of themselves in this material, and he worked in some fast comments about it. This was a powerful set from someone well worth watching.