This wasn’t the gig I was hoping to be at tonight, but as my original plans didn’t work out this time, I was looking for an alternative. There were a few gigs that I could have gone to, but seeing that Barry Dodds was on at Nottingham Glee that was enough to make me pick this one above others. Numbers weren’t massive, but as it is the August holidays, this was pretty much to be expected. There were two stag parties present, but despite one being very noisy in the run up to the show, both settled down beautifully whilst the acts were on. I got there in time for the last entry, but this did give me half an hour to kill prior to show time. I can understand that the venue wants no disruption from late arrivals, but all the same I was glad that I had taken a book with me for this bit. Four minutes before show time, the music is turned up to eleven and the lights flash on and off. This certainly kills conversations in time for the compere to take to the stage, but I ended up closing my eyes before I got a headache. Perhaps a couple of minutes less would be enough to silence everyone.
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 disparate groups into an audience and 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.
Simpson is a well experienced act and has a good reputation as someone who suits weekend clubs and I can see why. There was a broad appeal in his set, with pretty much something for every demographic to enjoy and nothing too niche to leave others out in the cold. On the downside, I unfortunately found him to be a bit unchallenging. His material had the feel of a well established set and whilst there were some good lines in there (ginger, breakfasts, etc), there also wasn’t a lot that made me sit up. There were a few pull back and reveals, which I’m not that keen on personally, but in fairness, they all received good laughs from the audience. The closing routine about blowjobs was one that built up a lot of momentum and had everyone on board. Whilst Simpson wasn’t particularly for me, the rest of the room liked him and I can easily understand why he was booked.
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.
Farnan had a good night. He opened with a splendid callback to the diversity of the line up, which went down well and this was followed by early applause for North and South. There was a fair bit of applause for this set, with some good lines being present. DUP was fun, the obtaining of a chap’s email address was adroitly done (I liked the callback to it) and I really enjoyed Farnan delivering material about the various seating sections. This kept everyone on their toes, just in case he spoke to them. Farnan has a wonderfully soft and soothing Irish accent and this didn’t do him any harm at all when he was talking to people (Ewok was a cracking line). The material based around his name was ok, but I didn’t feel it quite as strong as the rest of his set, especially homophobia – that was a great routine. Farnan received consistent laughter and ended the night well.