Bluey’s – Joe Zalias, Matt Fong, Tony Cowards, Alfie Moore and Aaron Twitchen (MC)

Tonight I was at Bluey’s in Alfreton for the FaF Comedy night. It’s a real shame that I can only make one in two of these gigs, as I love this venue. It’s great when the landlord is so behind the night and between him and Leonie they really go out of their way to make the acts feel welcome. Numbers were pretty good tonight and that is always nice to see.

Aaron Twitchen (MC)

This was the first time I’d seen Twitchen compere and he is very bright and bubbly and it is impossible to dislike someone who is just enjoying life on their own terms like he is. However, in a surprise, Alfreton didn’t immediately take him to their hearts and he had a slow start. He began with room work and then material, but the audience weren’t biting. I don’t think this is down to a lack of skill on his part, as he’s a very engaging person, but it was more down to a lack of common ground. It might perhaps have helped if he had been briefed on who was who in the room before the night began so that he could have tried to work in some local references, but I don’t think it would have made a huge difference. The audience just didn’t warm to him to begin with. However, at the end of the first intermission when Twitchen quickly drained two glasses of wine on stage, the mood of the audience flipped almost as if a switch had been tripped and they really took to him after that. From here he received regular laughs and things that might have got little back earlier went down a treat. It all turned out well in the end.

Joe Zalias

Opening was a strong act who was trialling some new material and this was naturally an unbalanced set, as he was trying out lines rather than presenting the room with a finished product. The topics on offer included divorce, murder and deaths and it was very bleak in tone. Tonight the bleakness was a bit relentless, whereas when this is fully formed I daresay there will be a lot of lighter stuff in between the darker areas just to keep the mood buoyant. There were some good jokes in here, such as cat and being sat on the sofa with his mind wandering. I wasn’t too sure about Kuerten, though, because whilst I don’t mind material on humans being bumped off, I have a huge soft spot for animals. The room was a bit split on the darker material, but those who liked it were very happy with it. Perhaps when workshopping this, it might be better to include a few lighter areas to give the audience more of a balance, as I think it will help with judging how well it would work in a full set. The pre-existing material all worked wonderfully well and I was pleased that Joe Zalias ended on a more upbeat note. I’m hoping to see more of this act.

Matt Fong

We resumed after the intermission with the impressively dressed Matt Fong. It’s great when an act makes an effort to dress well and audience’s tend to respond well to this. The money joke was nicely visual, but where I felt it did well was in Fong then retrieving it. Laser Quest was good and flat earth is something that not a lot of people are doing material on and I think he could have made more out of it. Fong was pretty wordy and he would benefit from cutting out a few words here and there to make his set more punchy. Fong gave the room an amiable set that had potential, but which, tonight, never really seemed to take off. He got laughs, but there wasn’t much that landed with a knockout blow and this was a shame.

Tony Cowards

Next was Cowards who was trying some new material. His moving to Loughborough has proved a huge bonus to the comedy scene up here, as he’s a reliable pro act who is a prolific writer of new material and is always happy to snap up a bit of stage time to try things out. This happy fact means that quite a few line ups are being given an extra bit of polish by him being there. Cowards was the first act of the night that everyone fully got behind and the applause and laughter came quickly. The jokes were clever, with him being happy to assume that the audience were intelligent and would get them and I think that when people comprehend an uncommon reference point they laugh all the harder for it. There were only 2 misses: Indie DJ, which got a huge laugh when he ostentatiously scratched it off of his notes following the silence and dog pound, which is a good joke, but which didn’t seem to capture anyone’s imagination. It was lovely when someone suggested a topper to a gag and Tony stopped to make a note of it whilst nodding his head, to much laughter. Personally, I thought that the arsonist gag might be strengthened by the inclusion of the word ‘notorious’, but I could be wrong. Rampant Rabbit was an absolutely smashing joke. This was a very powerful set that everyone thoroughly enjoyed.

Alfie Moore

Headlining was Alfie Moore, whose name had sold tickets, with some people coming down on the strength of his presence. His material was partly autobiographical and partly career based and the sum total was very good indeed. There were a lot of great lines in this set. I especially enjoyed his dad’s last words and his one and only pun and both received applause as well as laughter. Moore’s way of dealing with possibly ticklish subjects was novel and fun. The brief visit to the most common ways murder is committed in the UK was very entertaining and I’d heartily recommend anyone who hasn’t seen his show ‘Getting away with Murder’ to do so, as I really liked it. I was a bit surprised that when discussing the driving habits of paedophiles he didn’t go down the route of there being speed restrictions outside of schools, but he got a good laugh for what he said, anyway. Moore’s closing routine was ‘The Head’, which fully deserves capital letters. This is the best routine I’ve heard. Every single line ends with a big laugh and it is very easy to picture the scene. This was a strong set.

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