Tonight I was in Derby at the Blessington Carriage for the Funhouse comedy night. Numbers were pretty reasonable, but oddly the energy levels were a bit low, which was unusual. It was nice to see Radio Derby present recording segments of the night for Martyn Williams’ show on the forthcoming Monday night. Mike had fun compering, with Liam providing him with a nice gift when in response to being asked whom he was sat next to, replied with a friend – at the moment.
Opening tonight was a bit of a tough slot and Coumas drew the short straw. He began with a callback to Mike’s compering, which whilst it didn’t quite come off, was still nice to see. The trip to Bristol was building up well, with the chap recognising him as an outsider, but Coumas suddenly changed direction and began to talk about London. This was a shame, as it felt like Bristol was going somewhere. The topic of people marking themselves safe on facebook is a fertile one and I can imagine this being relatable for a long time to come. It’s possible that Coumas might be able to expand that section. The atheist preacher and the baby shower both also show promise. Kennington, however, was a bit of a mystery to the audience and probably would be to a lot of people outside of the South. I think folk worked it out via the context, but if Coumas were to go with somewhere off of a standard game of Monopoly then he would be on safer ground in the North when it comes to areas of London. This wasn’t a bad performance, but Coumas would have done better going on in a later slot as he didn’t make as much of an impact as he otherwise could have done.
Hailing from Bulgaria and hardly putting a foot wrong during his set, Durchov gave an impressive performance. The material was strong and felt novel, which was all to the good. There were a lot of strong lines in this set with the lift being nicely logical and sleeves a good visual gag that skated on the edge of applause. Driving licence was wonderfully meta. The only part where Durchov slightly lost his way was over a scenario where someone overlaid. However, he had already achieved a lot and so this slight hiccup didn’t do him any harm. The delivery was enjoyable and I would have liked to have seen more of Duchov.
We resumed after the intermission with Phil Carr who suffered the bad luck of having two late comers arrive who probably hadn’t been to live comedy before. They whispered to each other throughout his set and then buggered off before anyone could speak to them when the next interval arrived. They didn’t kill off Carr’s set or anything, but they were a nuisance for those sat close to them for the time that they were there.
Carr’s a promising act who writes some joyfully dark material and he had set the tone of his set by his third joke. There was a hell of a lot of good jokes in this performance, some of which got just as many groans from those shocked as huge laughs from those who were on his wavelength and Carr kept the vast majority of the room with him throughout. Well written dark jokes, that are genuinely funny and not there just for the sake of shocking people, can work extremely well and Carr has certainly got it right with his material. His delivery is quite subdued and it works well with his material, but it might prove beneficial in longer sets to show a few chinks in the persona. An aside to the audience after a particularly dark joke, such as ‘even I’m appalled by that one,’ would probably work wonders for him. I really enjoyed this set.
Rushton’s an interesting act that I hadn’t seen for quite a long time, although I’d heard some nice things about him on the grapevine. He’s already got his comedy persona nailed down and it is now a case of him polishing it. On stage he plays it as low status, seeking reassurance from the audience and he does this in a way that feels refreshing. It’s good to see him being cheerful about speaking directly to members of the audience, even putting them on the spot, when he seeks their opinions about him. This brings the audience into his show, adds a touch of excitement as he obviously has to deal with whatever is said to him and it keeps the set fresh. Some of the material is a bit wordy, but frankly I think that by and large this works well for Rushton as it fits in well with the persona. The only times I felt he might have been a bit more concise was with the football/nurse routine, where he could have gotten to the pay off faster and got more of an impact and arguably councillor may have been stronger without the explanation as I think 95% of the room got the gag. This was a good set from someone whom I can see progressing sooner rather than later.
The Boys from the all night Chemist
This was a musical duo, who with a guitar each, seemed to fill the stage to capacity. It was good to hear them singing original songs rather than parodies of existing works. The songs were all pretty good, even if a touch long too keep me fully invested in them. What I felt was missing during this ten spot was any interplay between them betwixt songs and audience work. Without any real attempt at performing any lines to the audience or even banter between themselves they felt more like a musical duo who do a few comedy songs dipping their feet into comedy. If they were to broaden their material to include more than just songs then it would prove useful to them.
Headlining the night was Big Lou, who brought the show to an end on a high. There was a lot to like about this set. The delivery was polished and smooth, the material very relatable and down to earth and it was also very adept technically, too. The misdirection on shower scene was very well done and the toppers timed beautifully. This was a set that built up a lot of momentum. Big Lou has a solid feel to him and his confidence transmitted itself to the audience very quickly. The material was well thought out, with Wythenshawe providing a good opening routine (bloom was a cracking line) that he doesn’t flog to death, but instead moved on from to talk about other topics. Shakespeare was good, as was the special guest at the golf club and the closing routine about the swimming baths had a lot going for it. This was a very enjoyable set.