Tonight I was up in Sheffield at the Lescar for the Little Last Laugh. This is a very popular night, with a huge queue of people waiting to get in when the doors opened. I was quite relieved that I had bought my ticket online, as a good number of people were turned away when the room had reached capacity. I think a lot of people had dressed for the March weather and hadn’t considered just how warm it would get in the venue, as a lot of folk were soon taking their jumpers off. The atmosphere was great and the audience were very much up for having a good time.
Compering was Bayley, who a few weeks ago went through to the next round in the Ashby English Comedian of the Year Heat – no mean feat in itself. I missed that gig, owing to work, but did see her on Panelbeaters a while ago. Tonight, though, she opened by discussing her West Midlands accent, which led into a brief section describing the Black Country, which was more geographical than funny. Bayley then got chatting to the audience, discovering who had met on a tinder date and finding one chap who upon the room being asked about veganism, whooped, which led to the inevitable comment that he seemed to have a lot of energy for a vegan. Luckily there was another vegan sat at the front and this fellow turned out to be good value, as he was a bit of a character with convoluted answers for everything. He could have been tricky to deal with, but Bayley dealt with him adeptly, getting a lot of fun out of him, without either letting him ramble on or dominate the night. During the first section, Bayley was pretty sweary, but this dropped off as the night went on and perhaps as she relaxed into the job. A lot of her material was sexual in content and I can imagine Bayley being a good weekend club act. Personally, I found her routine on teaching to be far more interesting. Although Bayley wasn’t really my cup of tea, as a fair bit of what she said didn’t feel like it was breaking any new ground, the room liked her and she held the night together well.
Opening was Popular Comedian Rob Mulholland, an act that is always interesting to see. He began by talking to a tall bloke sat near the front, who by coincidence was the same height as himself (6’7). This led naturally into Rob’s material on being tall, which made for a strong opening routine. The topics covered by Mulholland were a nicely varied bunch with fat shaming being something that I’ve not heard anyone else do much on – it’s lovely when a comedian finds something novel to talk about. There was strong writing in evidence with some very vivid descriptions, such as the midwife’s extra job when he was born, which gave for a particularly arresting image. Mulholland delivered this set energetically and with conviction and this worked very well. I felt that he hit the nail on the head when he used Rotherham for the local rival town. Oddly Rob seemed to say ‘right’ a lot only during two routines: drugs and dirty talk, but hardly said it during the rest of his set. I loved the laugh he received when he earnestly told the room that he was going to apologise for what he was about to tell them. This was a very good set that everyone enjoyed. Mulholland closed by inviting everyone present to sign up to his website (http://robcomedy.co.uk/), where they would receive a free hour long copy of his show, which was a nicely generous offer.
You can go a while between seeing an act and then you see them twice in the space of a just over a week. Wednesday last week I saw Salisbury doing a great job of headlining at the Canal House and tonight I was seeing him again, but doing a middle in Sheffield. As before, he opened strongly and generated some energy. I like how he repeats his first joke, as this not only gets a second, knowingly cheeky laugh from it, but it also establishes his authority over the audience. Salisbury has a quick speaking delivery and this helped with some of the longer set ups – there were a few that were slightly wordy for a ten spot and would benefit from perhaps editing down a touch. Not massively, just losing the odd word like ‘corner’ in front of shop and things like that. However, this is a minor point and it didn’t get in the way of Salisbury receiving consistent laughs. This was a strong performance that I’d have liked to have seen more of.
In contrast to seeing Salisbury twice in a week or so, it was eighteen months ago when I last saw Woolston. This was at a challenging bank holiday gig that only went ahead because the promoter was bounced into it when they arrived at the venue and didn’t want to let the acts down when it became apparent that it was going to be described as ‘character building’. I’m pleased to say that Woolston has improved since then. He had a better opening and whilst biscuits was ok, last words was a definite standout. Considering that there was a loud vegan sat at the front, Woolston commenting that he had gone down that path could have been entering into a minefield, but instead it proved a real bonus when he managed to ad lib a superb reply to the inevitable shout out that he received. I liked his use of a Liverpudlian accent as it added a lot to that particular joke and the WAGS material was both creative and funny. Woolston ended by addressing another powerful ad lib to the vegan. There were a few lulls in this set where there were gaps between reveals, but Woolston has improved and is going in the right direction. Considering just how good his room work was, I’d like to see more of that.
Monkhouse gives the audience long, wordy set ups, but this works far better than you’d expect just by reading a description of it owing to his command of the English language and the fun in listening to his verbosity. Within moments of him taking to the stage I think everyone knew that they were in a safe pair of hands. The topic of bald men looking much like other bald men was dealt with creatively and swiftly before Monkhouse moved on with his cerebral set. To me, the stand out moment was when he took a quick straw poll of ages and one bloke at the front made a highly dubious claim to being in his mid twenties. Monkhouse was splendidly flabbergasted by this claim and denounced it in magnificent terms, using words such as preposterous, delusional and blatantly middle aged. To see him come out with such a string of hilarious adjectives off the cuff like that was amazing to experience. This was a great closing performance to what was a lovely night.