Tonight I was in Derby at the Blessington Carriage for the Funhouse Comedy night. Numbers weren’t huge, but the audience was a broad cross section of society. Mike had fun chatting to a chap who had broken his foot kicking a wall when the person he was aiming for had moved out of the way – he turned out to be a martial artist, rather than combative and we were blessed with a lively lady called Martha who worked for BBC Leicester. There was one slightly jarring aspect and that was one of the acts very visibly getting up to pop outside just as the first act was about to be brought on, which wasn’t really playing the game, but fortunately he changed his mind and sat and watched the show.
Beaton could certainly be described as ‘Woke’ (google it, I had to when I first came across it) and her set contained a lot of timely, educated and funny references that were socially aware rather than clunkily right on. There were some very good routines and jokes in this set, such as the Netherlands, ‘change’ and being a lady of her age. The opening routine about her son was strong and there was a great moment when someone got a joke just that bit later than everyone else. The closing percentages was ok, but it was very easy to lose track of the specifics, but as the general point was funny this wasn’t the end of the world. Beaton was slightly wordy and might be a touch sharper with an edit of superfluous words, but this is a minor point. She was a very pleasant presence and was well received by the audience, despite drawing the short straw and opening. I’d like to see her again in a longer slot, as I think she has a fair bit to offer. This was a good set.
Next was the Australian Daniel Muggleton, who had more mixed fortunes. Some of his material was decent, such as terrorism and couch; transitioning was very good, but a lot didn’t really stand out, such as flying, which was more of a whinge or undercover, which felt like a work in progress that hasn’t yet been nailed. His delivery was competent and with more stage time he’ll improve.
After the intermission we had Good Kids, a musical sketch double act. Their name is ok for the moment, as they are still fairly young, but in coming years it may begin to seem a bit incongruous. They have good voices and work well together. To begin with, they did a spot of room work, which felt like a cross between compering and admin, but were stronger when they began with the songs. These were all original and matched up to their personas remarkably well. The humour was gentle and went down a treat with the audience. They aren’t the finished article, but they had a good night.
Topher was thoroughly enjoying Good Kids and so wasn’t fully in the zone when he unexpectedly found it was time for him to take to the stage. He began by telling the room how much he had enjoyed their set and then he opened with material. This was all good stuff. Part way through his set he came out of his persona to chat with Martha, the lady who worked for BBC Leicester, discussing his favourite disc jockeys on the wireless. This did make this section very much directed at the one person, with everyone else onlookers and it could have gone very badly, but despite the part about his father not going anywhere, Topher easily kept the room with him. This wouldn’t have happened six months ago. He then pulled it back without any trouble by resuming his material. This was a good performance, but I do think that Topher works best wearing his coat, as that, allied to the pauses, builds up a lot of comedic tension, but I’m happy to see him try new things, such as chatting to the audience. I look forwards to watching him develop as a comedian.
Next was Simon Wozniak, doing new material. I’ve not seen Wozniak for over a year and in that time he has gone from strength to strength and there is a definite buzz about him. Within 2 minutes of him opening his mouth you can see why. He is a naturally funny person and even things that he had wrote that day, such as condoms were well worth keeping. The routine about the system being down was highly relatable to anyone who has worked in an office and he got a lot of mileage out of it, although he might be able to edit it down a bit and get the same result. I really appreciated his use of the words jeopardy and charades as they just added an extra layer of icing to the cake. Homeless was more chilling than funny, but as new material, it is early days and savings has a lot of potential. The closing routine about driving was a belter. This was a very impressive performance from an act with a touch of quality to him.
Headlining was Chris McGlade who gave the room a high energy and lively performance. At times the room seemed too small for him and he resembled someone who had been cooped up for too long as he alternated prowling amongst the audience and sitting on the edge of the stage. Sometimes he would chat at a conversational level and at other times he would shout. A stand out moment was when he popped out onto the fire escape and bellowed some of his lines out into the night from there. His material felt like an abbreviated Edinburgh preview; a 20 minute synopsis concerning the issue of PC in comedy and how it is being used to artificially divide the people. At times, he did veer into political polemic, but would always top those sections with a powerful joke, although I did feel that sometimes the message did get in the way of the funny. There were some nicely visual jokes in this set, especially the shoe bomber, which worked very well. McGlade more or less finished on a new song, which gave a satisfying feeling of closure to the night, with his last couple of comments providing an epilogue to his performance.