Tonight I was in Nottingham for the NCF £1 night at Canal House. As usual, this was a very busy night, with plenty of people in attendance, including Matt Bragg and Tommy Wager, who had come to support the night.
Adam Beardsmore (MC)
This was the first time I’d seen Beardsmore compere and he did pretty well. He was friendly and welcoming, mixed room work with material and always ended on material to get the audience back into listening mode before he brought an act on. I thought his question regarding holidays was timely and it made a nice change to people being asked what they did for a living. During his compering, Adam found a girl who was celebrating her birthday and a chap who in a Fork Handles moment, had old paintings/ old paint tins in his car. The material was good, with the new story about the train journey being very pleasant, funny and also something that drew people in. I did think he could have perhaps added to his list of Shakespearean Stratford shops and in the routine about his daughter pointing at a mole there is perhaps room for him to say she was pointing at it as if she’d seen ‘something’ before getting to the reveal for two bites of the cherry. I’d like to see Beardsmore do some more compering.
I last saw Durchov in Derby, where he had been impressive. Tonight he made a powerful start by discussing being a Bulgarian living in Britain. This was strong material and for the first 6-7 minutes he hoovered up laughs. He continued this by talking about his appearance, body hair, relationships and dating with mutual decision being the outstanding line of his set. However, he went a bit off piste with an aeroplane journey and didn’t finish as well as he began his set. Perhaps there was also one too many mention of Brexit affecting his ability to be in Britain, too. Whilst Durchov isn’t the finished article, there’s some gold here and he will develop into a fine comedian.
I saw Copestake in The Rigger gong show last year and enjoyed what I saw, so tonight I was looking forwards to seeing more. Tonight it was mostly new material and there is some promise in it. He began, though, with a great comparison between Canal Street in Manchester and Canal St in Nottingham and how there wasn’t a tasselled nipple in sight here. This was a clever line. The missing cat was good, but he’d benefit from the poster being A3, as the detail must have been all but invisible from any distance. When it came to footballer’s wages, bonuses, appearance fees and so on, I feel that Copestake is onto something that could become really good. Tonight he cross referenced it to normal jobs as he went on, but if he were to show how ludicrous it is first and then to tie it into a normal job, especially if he can relate it to someone discovered during compering or at the top of his set, then it will hit home very hard indeed. Copestake closed on ‘the hug’ which was very visual and a real crowd-pleaser, especially when he got to the pay off. This was a good set.
Big Jon was only doing a tight five in preparation for a gig at the Comedy Store and it seemed to pass for him and us in the blink of an eye. He opened with relatable material about birthdays close to Christmas, which he tied in to a girl on the second row whose birthday it was. This was followed by a short routine about Trivial Pursuit (it would have been nice to hear if he had won) and some enjoyable dark jokes about the Twin Towers. This was a nice five, but it did feel more like a taster for a longer set.
We resumed after the intermission with Alex Leam, who was practising part of his upcoming show at the Leicester Comedy Festival. The opening about naff Christmas presents was timely and the jazzy jacket really sold it. The tales of being a mobile DJ were interesting and I can imagine Love Shack working well with perhaps a projector showing the lyrics. The tale of the bouncy castle needed a bigger pay off, though. Leam looked more confident and was smoother than before.
This was Matt Edmonds first ever gig and he did extremely well. He opened by telling everyone to blame his girlfriend, who had pushed him into it, if it all went wrong, which did eat up a bit of time. However, from here on in, he was on stronger ground. Being from Hereford originally gave him the chance to chat about tractors, for which he got a big laugh and to use a lovely line about a cheap time machine. Dogs names was even better and he delivered this bit very naturally. Food texting was a strong routine and the applause that this netted him wasn’t merely an audience supporting a brand new act, instead it was earned by it being funny. I did get to the type of reveal, if not the exact person, on signed books, but it was still a good joke and if Edmonds was to shorten the set up to the present he got caught on, without giving any clues, then that would be more punchy. Either way it was a cracking joke. This was a very good performance and for a first ever performance it was well above average.
Ending the second session was Ulster born Danny Treanor, whose low energy, low key performance and wordy set ups didn’t really hold the room. He got laughs, including a few big ones, but I and a few people sat near me, seemed to find it hard to stay focussed on what he was saying. Every so often he would skirt around the edge of going darker with his material and these moments were the most interesting parts of his set. I got the feeling that he had some darker material that would have helped his set stand out more.
Hughes had a fascinating rhythm to his delivery. He’d talk for a long time, hardly taking a breath and then taking one at an unexpected moment and this seemed to help people pay more attention to him than some other acts. He did look a trifle odd, wearing a shirt and tracksuit bottoms, but I think more people noticed his voice. Hughes has a voice that is hard to forget and I was surprised that he referenced it so late in his set. It was a bit of an elephant in the room and he may have been better speaking about it earlier. The material itself was pretty good and there were some original thoughts behind the material. Hughes got consistent laughs and didn’t do badly at all.
Headlining was Scott Bennett who was trying out new material. Bennett has got to be one of the most productive writers on the circuit and I shouldn’t be surprised if he throws away a lot of routines that many comics would be grateful to have created. Tonight he covered a lot of ground and the standouts were his dad casually chatting to the pilot, video games for the over 40s (there could be a lot of mileage in that), holidays with kids (relatable to so many people) and mooning. These were all routines that seemed very promising. There were some great lines, such as drone and the fastest moving queue at the theme park. The printer was a more established bit of material and it was a joy to hear.