Black Bull – Jack Topher, Adam Beardsmore, Thomas Green (Edinburgh work in progress) and Thomas Green (MC)

Tonight I was in Whetstone to see a comedy night in the skittle alley of the Black Bull. This is a good room for comedy, with its low ceiling and massing of 70 or so people in quite a small space. Energy and atmosphere built very nicely indeed. Although this night was booked by Jack Topher, Adam Or who runs a couple of nights was present, too and it’s always nice to see people supporting each others nights like that. The rest of the audience was made up of people from Whetstone itself and this was definitely one of those gigs where 95% of the audience knew each other, which isn’t always a bad thing, but it can make people feel more confident to shout out. Show time was pushed back to accommodate a football match, which was convenient for a lot of people, but which had the knock on effect of necessitating an extra break so that people could go to the toilet. With the low ceiling, hot room and pretty well oiled audience there was a definite Edinburgh vibe to the night and like an Edinburgh show, there was no one Scottish present.

Thomas Green (MC)

I’ve only ever seen Green doing his show (2016) or a straight set and although I’d heard some very nice things about his compering, this was a first for me. Green has oodles of likeability, but he has a lot to offer beyond that. He has an agile mind, which meant that he was never caught off balance by anything anyone said to him, he is skilled at directing conversations towards his existing material and his performance skills are remarkable. I was especially impressed by his habit of assuming a separate character whenever he addressed the room with an aside. This was a lovely touch and it was something that everyone liked. Green has quite a vocal range, which not only came to the fore in the asides, but also through him adding little touches of characterisation to people he was describing and also when he dropped his voice to say with sinister menace to someone, ‘and you thought I wasn’t going to talk to you….’ Green has a very good memory for people’s names and this meant that he was able to structure quite a few callbacks to people whom he’d chatted to earlier. When this was combined with the character traits he had assigned to the various people present (many of whom now have new nicknames courtesy of Green) it gave the gig a wonderful feeling of an intimate shared experience. The only thing of substance that I wasn’t so keen on was a joke about vegans not having any energy. It was a good joke and received a big laugh, but this is a pretty well travelled area. That aside, this was excellent compering.

Jack Topher

As the booker of a gig in his home town and performing in front of an audience consisting of people who have known him for most of his life, Topher probably had more pressure on him than anyone else in the room. He dealt with this well, doing lots of special in jokes and taking full advantage of his inside knowledge of all present. However, he did come unstuck a bit from having had a few drinks and losing his place a couple of times, which is a one off as he doesn’t do this at other gigs. He opened by telling everyone that he wouldn’t be as funny as our MC, Thomas Green, and he pitched this with just the right tone to get a good laugh for his admission. This was then followed by him ostentatiously re-jigging his set to compensate for the fact that almost everyone present knew his mum and his usual routine about her wouldn’t fly without the alterations. This went down well, although he was on the receiving end of some pointed comments from his future mother in law. As ever, the pauses on death and brother were excellent. The closing musical joke was quite a long routine, but worked well as a once only in-joke for the his friends. This was fun, but I’ve seen Jack have better gigs.

Adam Beardsmore

No sooner had Beardsmore taken to the stage than he was greeted with a shout out from Callum of ‘don’t pick on me!’ which naturally enough resulted in Callum coming in for some teasing. This, however, was only the starter, as during the interval Adam had had a chance meeting in the toilet with a chap who was waiting to use a cubicle, as this man couldn’t pee in front of people. Beardsmore shopped him to the room in a way that nicely balanced between getting laughs and not making the person look silly. This tale of embarrassing happenings provided a nice link to a new bit of material concerning a shopping trip with his daughter, which led fluidly into his existing material and so on until his first applause break. There was then a break for some pretty nifty room work, where Adam outed Jack’s stage name to everyone, as tonight he had been performing under his real name. This got a laugh and considering that Topher is progressing nicely, it is perhaps something for his friends to be proud of, but it did leave me with more mixed feelings. There was a slight interruption at this stage as a phone went off and the owner tried to reply to a text before being enjoyably castigated for it. This was followed by some more new material concerning double barrelled names. This routine is a keeper, but I’d consider changing the names, perhaps to something in the way of an Easter Egg, like the names of the people who have played Doctor Who, or something similar for the more awake to spot. The acronym isn’t that easy to follow, as no one knew it was an acronym and although it is funny in retrospect when explained, I think it could still be used with the different names, as the end comment is funny enough without the acronym to back it up. As ever, the closing routine, with topper, was superb. This was a good set from someone who sooner, rather than later, will be moving up in the comedy industry.

Thomas Green: Doubting Thomas (work in progress)

After the final break we came to the main event, Thomas Green’s Edinburgh work in progress: Doubting Thomas. Owing to the later start, the extra break and the usual difficulty in getting people back to their seats in short order, the night had progressed quite dramatically. Whilst I could handle the bar sounding last orders before the show had ended, I was pretty concerned about the audience reaching a tipping point where their ability to sit still in a hot room and pay attention would fade. By now the audience, whilst still in a great mood, were thoroughly lubricated and had that small town we all know each other confidence to shout out at regular intervals. This could have made the room hard to play, but Green did very well to keep things more or less on track. He did have to burn a fair amount of time in dealing with the shout outs, but he did so in a way that was consistently funny and kept everyone onside. There was one rare slip in his remembering people’s names, calling Helen Holly, but that stood out more for being unusual, as he’d had a 100% success rate thus far, than for being jarring.

There were a lot of jokes and comments that were specific for this gig only and these were uniformly superb and really hammered home just how good live comedy is, as opposed to a dvd, and whilst these quips won’t make Edinburgh, they did demonstrate an impressive ability to think on his feet.

He began by asking who had been to Australia and this led pleasingly into a routine about swimming. The villainous look on his face when discussing finishing swimming with his ex truly sold that line. As before, when compering, Green was able to take full advantage of his vocal range to get a lot out of his material. Just little things, like how he enunciated ‘science’ helped to push his performance, whilst the bigger things, like the theatrical delivery of an encounter with a lady and then her father, worked even better.

One new bit concerning Loki was interesting and a great object lesson in the weirdness of Norse mythology (there is definitely a full show in comparing the more bizarre religious myths of the world), but it didn’t really come off as well as it might have done as just a short routine. The tale of his partner and her ability to remain resolutely down to earth was very good and there may be room to add to it by stressing this ability further, especially if tied in to the final line about the flowers. Tonight that got a lot of applause, but I can see it working even better.

There was a change of pace with the tale of the tiger and this might work better in the middle of the show when energy levels tend to drop naturally. Green may be best to get A3 or even A2 mock ups made of the pages of the book, as the pictures weren’t that easy to see the detail on from 12′ away. If he were to get an audience member to present them at the right moments it would help bond the room with the material and it would free Green to use the microphone more easily, as it was tricky to both show the pages and to keep close enough to the mic to make full use of it. During this routine drought was a nice line, but I think for Britain hosepipe ban would be stronger as it would have greater resonance. Spiders was an excellent closing routine.

Although this was a work in progress, Green has the makings of a great show here. The material is funny and his performance is splendid. I thoroughly enjoyed watching this and will be very interested in seeing the finished article.

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Canal House, Edinburgh Previews: Ahir Shah: Duffer and The Hon. Tom Houghton: Tom Houghton the Honourable

Tonight I was in Nottingham at the Canal House for the first of the NCF Edinburgh Previews. This began at 1900, a hour earlier than usual and it felt odd seeing comedy in daylight. The numbers were pretty good, with most of the 100 or so seats being filled. One downside, though, was that there didn’t seem to be as many staff working the bar as per normal and so the start was delayed slightly in order to give everyone chance to get a drink.

Ahir Shah: Duffer

The first preview was that of Ahir Shah and it was entitled Duffer. Shah took to the stage and with his loud booming voice he sounded very much like Matt Berry. One of the first things he did was to playfully alert the audience to the fact that this show was a work in progress (it will naturally be reviewed as such) and that some of it would be bad. No one minded this and he received a good laugh for his frankness.

Shah began well by explaining his antecedents, which led into hearing about how he grew up being looked after by his gran. This set the scene for the show, which was pretty thought provoking. There were some very good lines in here, such as the jokes about reincarnation, Midlands, three degrees, Major and Currie was splendid and deserved a lot more than it received and the various callbacks to Bohemian Rhapsody, which were all a lot of fun. However, Allahu Akbar and explosions has been pretty much done to death, but in fairness Shah got a big laugh for both of them. Whilst I thought the line ‘and it’s closer’ wasn’t bad, I do think that is improvable. Shah made a fair point about gadgets listening in, but I don’t think he really got as close to the funny with it as what he could have done.

This was a very intelligently written show and it’s obvious that Shah is extremely well informed on a large number of subjects. However, I thought that at the moment, the weight of exposition got in the way of the funny. The format was mostly him speaking very quickly for a minute or so, giving the audience a tranche of backstory and then a short pause and a punchline. The reveals hit home pretty well and so on that level it worked well. However, over the length of the show, I found that this gave it something of an episodic feel and that possibly two thirds of his time was given to explaining things, or setting things up, with any time left over being for the humour. I know that set ups are required and that a scene does need to be painted, but I thought the balance was a bit out of kilter and my attention began to wane. At some points it began to feel a bit like a lecture with laughs and I did wonder how many other people were keeping up with the amount of information they were being given. I can imagine that this will be tightened up before August, though.

There was a rare interruption when a chap shouted out a question about Shah’s aunts, as he’d mostly spoken of his father, gran and various uncles. Shah fielded this well, but karma appears to have taken a hand, as just before the interval the heckler’s wife walked straight into a Perspex panel with a huge thud and neither were seen again.

Whilst this was a work in progress, Shah received regular laughs and the audience enjoyed it. There was a cathartic feel to the story and I think that if he were to edit it down so that there was less weight of exposition, the balance between story and funny will improve. This should be a good show when it is finished.

The Hon. Tom Houghton: Tom Houghton the Honourable

Houghton is an excellent act who I think will go far as a comedian and so I was especially interested in seeing his show. I wasn’t disappointed, either. He made a big impact from the off and the laughs flowed thick and fast. Not just ordinary laughs, these were proper belly laughs.

This show concerns Houghton’s upbringing, his dad’s ennoblement, Tom’s subsequent default rise and how for every success in life, there is someone in a crucial, but less glamorous role, who is holding the fort. Whilst I doubt that the story arc will change few people’s perceptions of the world, to me this doesn’t really matter. The show is incredibly funny and it will thoroughly entertain anyone who goes to see it and that is the important thing.

There is no denying that Houghton has won life’s raffle. He lives in one of the best addresses in the country, he has had what should have been a trouble free childhood and has been to places that few people will ever see. However, he is such a likeable person that no one could begrudge him this. Also, he is surprisingly down to earth. Whenever his list of good fortune begins to appear overwhelming, Houghton brings himself crashing back down to earth with a tale of humiliation or a mishap or two (Wetherspoons was great) and this helps to keep what he is saying relatable to the audience. He may be privileged, but he is just as prone to getting into a mess as anyone else. This is all pretty endearing.

There were a lot of superb lines in this show: Dominoes and social science were great. However, the daft puns were a lovely addition, too. I massively enjoyed all of those, the dafter the better. The orange lord, exorcise and cell mate were all laugh out loud funny. ‘Yawn raping’ was a new one on me and probably 80% of the audience, but the explanation only took 10 seconds, so this worked well.

The stories told by Tom were all of a very good quality, with lots of little lines and additions that helped to build them into something that everyone could easily picture. This was quite an immersive experience. His ability at doing different voices and accents was a huge advantage with this. My favourite was the squaddies on duty in Ulster – this really came to life in front of me. The only section that I thought was a bit of a lull was the ambush. That felt rather grim and seemed a bit out of step with the rest of the show. However, Houghton quickly pulled the mood back after the denouement and the show regained its feel good factor.

This was an incredibly funny show, chock-full of big laughs and I think the people up in Edinburgh are in for a treat.

The Lyric Rooms – Chris Thomas, Harvey Hawkins, Pete Phillipson and the Raymond and Mr Timpkins Revue

Tonight I was in Ashby for the Funhouse Comedy night. I’m not sure if this had sold out, but I’m damned if I could see any empty seats in the room and everyone was in for a treat. This was one of those shows where all four acts did incredibly well. Mike had a good night compering, chatting to Charmaine, who was happy enough to admit that she was a commercial estate agent specialising in pubs, but who was strangely reticent about naming her company. I’ve no idea why people do that, as no one is going to abuse their company or do them any harm, but either way, Mike was experienced enough not to push her on it. He got a huge laugh for the next person he spoke to, who was Charmaine’s PA, as he quickly came out with a rhyming couplet. There were further laughs from Mike speaking to George, who was 6’5 and only 16 and also from when he spoke to a Canadian marine biologist and although the Coronation Street specific joke was a tiny bit niche, fans of the programme loved it.

Chris Thomas

Following the demise of Ian D Montfort, we had a replacement in Chris Thomas, who was rather similar looking, but without the Wearside accent. Thomas took to the stage, wearing a suit and jacket and opened with the sort of joke that was powerful enough to have everyone onside within 2 lines. This was just the beginning of a superb set. There were some excellent set pieces that were incredibly well thought out and had everyone laughing. These included doing spirit drawings from a book of famous stiffs (Peter Stringfellow was a wonderfully timely addition) that two audience members had secretly chosen, guessing star signs and most spectacularly of all guessing the lines on a random page in a book. Times have moved on since acts took a book to a show for this and instead Thomas had a kindle with the complete works of Shakespeare on. All 61,000 pages of it. Three audience members picked out the digits to give a page number and a random audience member then checked it and Thomas had to guess what the first line of that page was. Incredibly he was able to recite a good few lines of it. There was one person who attempted to be creative with his answers to the questions, but Thomas dealt with him easily. This set was delivered with an assured confidence and went down a storm.

Harvey Hawkins

Hawkins had a cracking night. His opening joke worked very well at drawing people in and getting them listening, as everyone wanted to know how things turned out in this story. When the punchline came, it landed with a lot of force, getting him his first laughs and applause of the night. Hawkins was very aware of whom Mike had been talking to during his compering and was twice able to tailor his material to tie it to individual members of the audience and this worked brilliantly in adding extra impetus to what he was saying. I loved it when Hawkins played with the conventions of comedy when he announced that he would ‘tell the audience about me’. In a comedy literate room like this, it worked a charm. In contrast to an act I saw last week, Hawkins has a slow delivery and a crystal clear voice and in consequence no one missed a word of what he said and so everyone was laughing a lot. A hell of a lot. Very quickly we were at that lovely stage where every time he finished a sentence the whole room laughed. This was a smashing set and Hawkins never put a foot wrong all the way throughout.

Pete Phillipson

On a read through of the topics that Phillipson spoke about, lads, his dad, smelly visits to the loo, masturbation and girlfriend’s parents, it sounds very laddish, almost FHM in tone. However, Phillipson is a very subtle writer of comedy and he fashioned these topics into something nuanced, creative and very enjoyable. He was assisted in this by tackling each area from a different angle to what you’d expect and his skilful use of toppers was a joy to see. This was a set that whenever you thought he’d peaked with a routine, Phillipson would then add in just one more line to ramp up the humour. My personal favourite was admin, which seemed to strike a big chord with a lot of people in the room. Despite saying ‘right’ a few times, this was a very well delivered set and I’m surprised that he didn’t run out of breath on a couple of occasions. This was a performance where the laughter and applause flowed very easily for Phillipson.

The Raymond and Mr Timpkins Revue

For three years I’ve been hearing great things about this double act. I’ve heard about them getting standing ovations from tough rooms and about how they have smashed pretty much every gig, yet whenever they’ve been performing near me, I’ve always been at work. So I was massively looking forwards to seeing them tonight. There was a slight delay in them taking to the stage, owing to a technical hitch, but once this was resolved, they began their performance. The Raymond and Mr Timpkins Revue are a musical prop double act who will act out the lyrics of songs or do brief sketches based on lyrics. It’s not necessary to have any knowledge of the song excerpts they perform to (probably just as well, as I only recognised half of the songs) as you get everything you need in the way of exposition just from the lyrics themselves. Mike alerted everyone to the fact that they are a very visual act and so pretty quickly a good number of people were moving to get a better view. This is a performance where there are any number of things that could cause a hiccup, such as fumbling a prop, banging into each other on the stage, mistiming an action or even a speaker cutting out, but they pulled it off triumphantly. Raymond and Mr Timpkins have superb timing and coordination. Whilst the props and the music do the obvious heavy lifting, it is the superb acting of this duo that really sell their performance. The expressions pulled and the various moves with each prop pushed this to the maximum. After spending 3 years in anticipation of seeing them, I regret to say that although it is magnificent, it wasn’t really my cup of tea – I’m not that into musical comedy and I found it very hard not to try and second guess what they were going to do on the songs that I recognised. However, the audience loved every minute of it and I was surprised that there wasn’t a standing ovation. This was a magnificent performance and I can see why they have such a good reputation.

The Shinnon – Tony Burgess, Jem Braithwaite, Sham Zaman, Wes Zaharuk and Chris Brooker (MC)

Tonight I was at The Shinnon for the FaF Promotions gig. I usually see friends on Saturday nights, and was meant to be out with some tonight, but the weather put them off, which left me with the chance to go to my third Saturday night gig in two years. I’m back on shift tomorrow and so a gig just round the corner from home was very convenient, especially with a headliner like Wes Zaharuk on the bill. The Shinnon will fit a good 75 people or so in, but owing to the low ceiling and the crowd being up for the show, the atmosphere was such that it felt like there were over 100 people there. The stage sits slightly offset to a corner of the room, with the audience sat around it in a semi crescent, almost nudging the stage, which gave it a very intimate feel.

Chris Brooker (MC)

Brooker is a highly skilled compere, who has a very gentle demeanour that helps audiences to relax in his presence. Tonight marked his return to The Shinnon and seeing how well he was received, I shouldn’t be surprised if he gets booked many more times. Brooker is a tall chap, with what my Granddad would have called a wrestler’s build and owing to the lighting, his face and torso were well lit, but the top of his head was in darkness giving him an odd appearance, almost as if he had no top to his head. He began by finding out how many people there were regulars and who was there for the first time, which resulted in discovering just half a dozen or so newcomers. This enabled him to riff with it not being a cult or anything sinister, with some very nice remarks about the local after hours practices. Brooker announced that he had two jokes and they both worked very well. I was impressed with his quick wits for his nine comment and felt that that deserved more. In the second section, Brooker went with more material, which was a treat to watch and was streets ahead of asking people what they did for a living. Brooker did the rules, explained the format, plugged the next night, gave useful advice to help a much less experienced act and was very funny; this was good compering that helped to make the night a success.

Tony Burgess

Our opening act was Tony Burgess and he had a cracking gig. From beginning to end he hoovered up laughs, getting that little bit of applause after almost every joke that constantly seemed to hover on the edge of an applause break until he received the first of these part way through his set. Burgess has an accent that is hard to miss and he did well to reference that in his opening line. This was followed by solid material concerning the local posh town of Bakewell before he went into a sustained routine about his age. He had read the room well, especially noting the demographic and this all went down like a charm. The material on drugs wasn’t quite so well received, but this was only marginally so, as he kept probably 95% of the room with him for it. The section about his family and Christmas presents was a very strong closing to what had been a very impressive opening set. There were some great lines here, such as downsizing and Buckaroo, which were brilliant. The audience and I thoroughly enjoyed Burgess and I did worry a little bit that the night might have already peaked with this performance, it was so strong.

Jem Braithwaite

Opening the middle section was Jem Braithwaite, who was doing his first ever ten spot. Braithwaite is a skilled young comedian who has already found his voice. His style is surreal; he stands on stage jerking from one side to the other as if unseen Gremlins are pulling him about with lengths of string and his lines are all nicely offbeat. I think he’s someone to watch for the future, but I wouldn’t have thought that a pub in an ex pit village was his natural home, yet these are the gigs that he will have to master if he wants to play a full range of venues and audiences. Tonight, though, the room wasn’t fully with him. From the off, you could feel that they were unsure of a young act with the hood of his hoody sticking up out of the back of his cloak (the cloak is a great prop), but Braithwaite managed to entertain a fair few people. Whilst not everyone got him, those that did were fully onboard. There was a lady sat near me who laughed more at him than almost any other act. I saw some new material in Braithwaite’s set and this was good stuff, with the callback being a winner. Whilst tonight wasn’t the triumph that everyone would have wished for, Braithwaite did well and it is all useful experience. Perhaps if he were to break the 4th wall, drop out of character and acknowledge the oddity of his performance with a self-deprecating comment, it would help to break the tension and bring more people onboard. For a first ten in a room a bit outside his usual sort of gig this was a creditable performance.

Sham Zaman

Next was Sham Zaman, a high energy fast speaking act. I’ve seen Sham have some really good nights, but unfortunately this wasn’t one of them. This was pretty much due to two factors. One was that during his ten minutes he did a large number of routines concerning race and the law of diminishing returns naturally kicked in. The race card shows promise, but after so many other jokes about race it didn’t have the impact that it would otherwise have had and going forwards, a twist on it would have been nice. The other factor was the sheer speed at which Sham spoke. I’ve seen him a few times and I didn’t catch every word, whilst some of the people I was sat with were reduced to asking each other if they could make out what he was saying. If you are speaking too fast for a large part of the room to hear you clearly, then they won’t be able to laugh at jokes they haven’t followed. This could be remedied if Sham were to speak a little bit more slowly. If he were to be a bit more concise in his set ups then he would be able to do this without having to cut jokes from his set, as some of the set ups were on the wordy side. The clubbing baby seals comment was an oddity, as the vision it conjured up was more bloody than funny and he may have been better off with a gag along the lines of golf clubbing, as that would have fitted the age of the person he was speaking to and wouldn’t have had the negative baggage of the other. This wasn’t a great night for Sham and I’ve seen him do far better at other gigs so I know that this isn’t representative of what he can actually do. Next time I see him, I’m sure all will be well.

Wes Zaharuk

The headlining act was the very talented Wes Zaharuk. He’s a prop comic who adds a nice touch of magic to his jokes, inverting the genre in a creative way. Zaharuk pitches his persona just right, being self-deprecating, looking almost unsure himself that the stunts will work as planned. There is a lot of physical comedy in this set, some very obvious and some not so obvious. His facial expression after the mathematics was a wonderful look of guilt and shiftiness that really sold that joke. Zaharuk adds a very nice touch of anarchy to a night, with the feeling that no one knows what is coming next and that no one is safe from finding themselves on stage to assist with his stunts. Having 3 different audience members up on stage at various times certainly helps to bring people into this performance and there was a tangible feeling that everyone had a stake in the show. My personal favourite is the trick with the loo roll, this is solid gold and tremendous fun to see. The audience were massively invested in this performance and it provided a spectacular end to a the show. This was a smashing set.

The Little Last Laugh – Danny McLoughlin, Sean Collins, Seymour Mace and Big Shaun (MC)

Tonight I was in Sheffield at the Lescar for the Little Last Laugh. There was another big crowd present, including a big retirement do consisting of a group of builders, which fortunately were skilfully managed in such a way that they didn’t unbalance the audience.

Big Shaun

Shaun certainly has a lot of potential as a MC. He has presence and a sure touch with an audience. He’s also an assiduous writer, who had written totally new material to what I saw last week. Tonight a lot of his material revolved around items that had been in the news today and this gave it a wonderful timeliness, that is a cut above the usual compering fare of asking people where they live and what they do. A few of these news based observations would have benefited from a killer closing line, but that will come. Shaun showed guts in tackling the big retirement party early on and did well to roll with them trying to give nothing away to his questions. It’s possible that if he had spoken to more people prior to them he may have built up enough impetus to make it harder for them to try to duck his questions, but I think whatever he did they were determined to play it tight. Shaun did use ‘fucking’ a fair bit, which wasn’t the end of the world, but if were to keep that word in reserve and use it to add emphasis on the big lines, then I think he would get a huge response for it – less is often more with swearing. This was enjoyable compering from someone whom I can easily see becoming very adept at it.

Danny McLoughlin

It had been a while since I last saw McLoughlin and so his name was a very welcome sight on the bill. I had enjoyed him previously and in the 18 months or so since I last saw him it is obvious that he has moved into an even higher gear. He opened by referencing a hoody that he was wearing and this led almost organically into a short but solid opening routine that gave everyone a feel for what he was about. As McLoughlin himself said, he doesn’t do politics – instead he delivered a set that was relatable to everyone in the room. There were some clever lines in this set, such as the meaning of Peter and Wayne. This was a great joke even if it did go over a few heads. I adored Danny’s comments when Neil tried to fib about his age – the Indiana Jones reference was right up my street, as indeed was Clash of the Titans (McLoughlin has a great taste in films). Rewards for crying and Hetty were both well thought through and unboxing is nicely novel. However, to me the standout routine of his set and of the night in total, was when McLoughlin spoke about a fight he had at school. His vivid descriptions had everyone sat tight listening in and hanging on his every word. This was a brilliant set that carried a real feel good factor and McLoughlin seemed to effortlessly make the Lescar a happier place.

Sean Collins

Like McLoughlin, Collins didn’t deal with politics or issues, either. Amongst other things, his material concerned kids, drugs, and the Beast from the East, which as a Canadian, who obviously gets proper weather, he had some very valid and funny comments about. Collins had a lot of good lines, but owing to the nature of his writing and the low energy, almost too weary to stand, persona that he adopted, there wasn’t a lot that anyone would be able to repeat tomorrow if they were put on the spot. In the Lescar, though, this approach worked very well, getting him consistent laughs. He did split the room a tiny bit, with a fair few people not being too sure about his story involving the piano teacher. This was a serious topic and I’m not sure that he really managed to convince everyone that there was a lot of humour in it. However, he was on firmer ground when discussing his replies to his wife’s dress dilemma, this went down a storm. This was a good set.

Seymour Mace

Mace came to the stage following a huge build up from Big Shaun and he riffed with that before launching into his set. Mace looks unusual. He wears a frilly shirt, a loud jacket and had a sheriff’s badge stuck to his left lapel that he wonderfully never felt the need to explain or even mention once during his set. Mace is one of those rare comedians who can stand on stage, not doing much of anything and still be funny (Cokey Falkow manages this, too). This was a surreal set and I’d be surprised if anyone could guess where he was going with any of the set ups and so there was a lot of genuine surprise with the reveals which added to the force with which they landed. Hand did especially well, but I really loved reverse burgling, which Mace acted out superbly well. His closing routine (backing singer) gave the audience a smashing end to a great night of comedy.