The Miners Arms – Will Duggan, Aaron Twitchen, Fran Jenking, James Cook and Jon Pearson (MC)

Tonight I was at The Miners Arms in Sutton, a rather pleasing fifteen minutes from home. This is Jon and Gabby Pearson’s pub and very nice it is, too. The comedy takes place upstairs, well insulated from the noise of the bar and the room is very memorable with chandeliers, (covered) gilt mirror and a full length wall mural. The audience were mixed in age and backgrounds and although everyone laughed at most things, they didn’t seem to all laugh at any one moment, which was odd. On the front row was a chap who couldn’t resist shouting out comments. It was probably his first time at live comedy and despite Jon and every act politely, but cuttingly, closing him down, he proved resilient and bounced back a few minutes later every time. Despite these interruptions, the night was a lot of fun.

Jon Pearson (MC)

As resident compere, barman, ticket seller and landlord, Jon was in the position of knowing most of the audience by name and this was a real benefit to him as he didn’t need to do any heavy lifting to establish his position – it also meant that he didn’t have to grasp for the names of people and this helped things flow. Jon kept it pretty tight in the opening section, concentrating on room work, where he discovered a couple who had met at a petrol station. After the first intermission he gave the room a routine about fashion, rugby and anatomy. This was a good routine and it was well delivered, but it was probably a bit long for using outside of a set. Jon did a good job and the room stayed warm and receptive for the rest of the comedians.

Will Duggan

I’d only seen Duggan once before when he was a panellist on Panelbeaters and there he had impressed me with the cerebral quality of his material. Tonight his set took in, amongst other things, a trip to Dublin, being a hero, his living arrangements and some very pleasing room work. The Dublin routine built up very well and despite the clue possibly being there, I doubt anyone guessed where he was going. This did lead to a shout out from the enthusiastic chap sat on the front row, which Duggan dealt with skilfully by managing to be totally cutting, but saying it in a light hearted way, which ensured that those annoyed by the interruption would love the insults and the man involved couldn’t get annoyed. Duggan’s material was good and his ability to bring the audience into the show was very pleasing. It is easy to see why he was booked. This was a very enjoyable performance.

Aaron Twitchen

Twitchen opened with a good line that received a big laugh and instantly quelled any audience member having to ponder upon his backstory to the detriment of giving his performance their full attention. Twitchen is a very open and engaging person and I think that the room quickly took him to their hearts. They were happy to respond to his comments addressed to individual people, but strangely left him hanging when he asked the entire audience questions a couple of times. There was a good callback to Jon’s compering, some decent material about fitbits, but the best routine concerned ghosting. Twitchen did say ‘right’ a fair few times, but it didn’t get in the way of him delivering an entertaining set.

Fran Jenking

Fran hosts the quiz at this pub and knew a few of the audience members from that, which was a bit of a bonus. He began by telling the room he was from Nottingham, which got a woo and this led into a pleasant bit of material about the Midlands and the East Midlands. There was one unfortunate moment when one woman gave out a big yawn, just due to the time of night, but luckily he was in the zone and carried on without pausing. Fran choosing Derby for some stick was a popular idea that went down well. The bus was probably the standout line from his set, though. Personally, I preferred it when Fran was just bantering with the room. He’s great at just chatting to people and finding something in what they say. This was a good set, but I’d have liked to have seen a bigger ending and I daresay that he had one, but as he was getting close to the time limit he didn’t get chance to close with it.

James Cook

Cook’s set was very well written. He opened with a joke that was clever, but easy for everyone in the room to get and this could be said of all of his routines. They were all well thought out, but not difficult for an audience late at night to follow. His observations about the eccentricities of the room were strong and again, tangible to the audience. These were all delivered in a clear voice that didn’t speak too quickly, nor too slowly. As with pretty much everyone else Cook had to deal with the man on the front row shouting out and he managed to quieten him for a few minutes, before he inevitably bounced back with another comment, which he then put down again. A few minutes later I was surprised when Cook voluntarily spoke to him again, but he managed to extricate himself from that conversation without too much trouble. There was a lot of good material in this set, but my personal favourite was the routine about the school bear. I was very impressed with Cook tying that in to the teacher sat on the front row. This was a very strong set.

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