This has been a dismal month for me when it comes to comedy. Owing to a mixture of adverse shift patterns, a lot of the industry taking a Summer break and various nights cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances, I’ve only seen 13 acts this month. In a good month, I can see more than that in just a single week.
These are the acts that impressed me the most:
Barry Dodds (MC)
Barry Dodds came to the stage and without being particularly forceful, he still managed to take no prisoners tonight. Within seconds he had the room cheering for various things and this welded the various groups into an audience, but it also established his authority extremely quickly. His ability to so demonstrably take control like that silenced any potential hecklers or disruptive elements. From here Dodds got to know a few people. Tindy and Indy, sat close to the stage were a nice gift to him as were the couple on their second date and for one moment I did think he was going to get a proposal from another couple. Dodds was very sharp thinking with his replies to the people that he spoke to. He was also very adept with sensing the mood currents throughout the room. The level of disparagement he put into his voice when he said, ‘it’s in Leicestershire,’ upon someone claiming De Montfort Uni as an exotic place was wonderfully done. I was impressed by how Barry handled the big stag party from Chesterfield. He used his local knowledge to make enough jokes to get them laughing, but even better, he kept them onside and subtly neutralised any desire of theirs to shout out by encouraging them to cheer whenever he mentioned Chesterfield, this outlet for their energy seemed to work wonders. In between working the room, there was some great material delivered, with middle lane drivers being a stand out. Dodds’ bubbly personality was infectious and he received a lot of laughs for some strong compering.
Danny McLoughlin (MC)
McLoughlin is as down to earth as they come and this means that not only are his reference points easily accessible to audiences, but that he feels like someone they can all relate to. Tonight he began by using the mic stand and backdrop to teach spelling to a chap sat at the front, before starting to chat to the audience in earnest. There is always an interesting mix of people at the Lescar and he found John, a retired interior designer who tried to be evasive (if you don’t want to be spoken to, being evasive really isn’t going to help you), Dave, who was a para-legal and another Dave who was the manager of a leisure centre. One Dave was from Clowne, which led to a belting line about the contents of their Gregg’s. Oddly, it took a while for the energy levels to rise, despite McLoughlin getting a lot of laughs, but I think that this was probably down to the heat. During his second session, he went with more material and scored some big hits with this; Kebabs was good, but pens was superb. Danny using Dave, as a foil, though, was the highlight of the night. Whilst easily staying on the side of acceptable, he managed to get a lot of fun out of ‘Beige’ Dave, getting a well earned round of applause. The lines about how Dave proposed to his partner were superb – she had the look of someone who was wishing that they were recording this ripping to show their friends. The only thing that I wasn’t keen on was when McLoughlin casually announced that he was just going to ‘talk a bit of shit’ as I felt that that really under valued the solid work he was putting in. He announced the next shows, thanked everyone for coming and it was nice to see him remember Wayne, who was doing the door, when name-checking those who had assisted with the night. McLoughlin has great comic instincts and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing him. He should be better known than he is.
McCabe was a lovely surprise. I’d not heard of her before the night, but she proved to be something of a prize packet. She’s got a great combination of material that draws you in, making you want to hear more and a sparkling delivery that really sells what she is voicing. Her material was autobiographical and it is very well written with great pacing. There aren’t huge gaps between the laughs and even the set ups are fun to listen to because what McCabe was talking about was so interesting. McCabe has a soft Glaswegian accent that seemed to be perfectly in tune with what she was saying. Her hand movements and little actions that she did added a lot to her performance. There were a lot of excellent lines in this set. I was astounded that she didn’t get an applause break for the serial killer’s plans and I was pleased when she received one for the topper. This was a massively enjoyable set, the stand out of the night, and I’m amazed that McCabe is not a pro comedian.