Tonight I was at Canal House for the NCF £1 night, which continues to go from strength to strength. There was a large crowd of enthusiastic comedy fans present and some very strong acts on the bill.
Matt Young (MC)
Young was an interesting compere. He veered from spending too little time on stage at the top, to too much in the middle. He opened with what was basically admin and then followed this up with a bit of talk about the unseasonably hot weather, which he briefly tried to compare to a teenager and then he brought on the first act to a cold audience. Usually acts will talk to members of the audience, find out useful facts for the acts to do callbacks to, build up a feeling of a shared event or make people laugh. Young managed to avoid all of those in the first section. For the middle he spent perhaps fifteen minutes on stage, but the more he spoke the colder the room felt and the less enthusiastic the audience became. If Young was to take a totally fresh approach and chat to members of the audience, find things out about them, have something funny to say either in response or as material, then he would do better.
Sheffield based Pollard came on to what was a cold room and succeeded in quickly building up some energy. The joke about her dad’s business was good, as was the later callback to it. The bad puns about grapes went down well, but I wasn’t too sure about the dog routine – it seemed one step too surreal all of a sudden to really carry everyone. However, there is definitely something there in that routine. Pollard did well (especially going on first to a cold room), received laughs and with a bit more experience she’ll do fine.
Edwards had a great night. He has strong comedic instincts and he took to the stage full of energy and enthusiasm. His delivery was engaging and he worked the front two rows hard, bringing everyone into his performance incredibly quickly. He spoke about Zebras and Giant Bees, both of which have been in the news this last week and was very funny with it all. Whilst his set wasn’t as concise as others, there was a joy in watching this free flowing performance.
Jones continues to improve both his material and his performance. Tonight he quickly got into a lovely rhythm of telling a joke and then everyone laughing. I did think that he perhaps paused for the audience to laugh just a beat too long and this allowed the room to partially reset itself with concurrent loss of momentum, but that’s a minor point. With the exception of the Frodo gag, Jones got laughs for everything. Out of nowhere was a particularly powerful joke that got a huge laugh. Bud Lite had a great reveal, but the set up might be improved. If Rory could close with an actual amnesia based joke as a concluding callback, then I can imagine it taking the roof off. It’s nice to see him improve like this.
John was the second act in a row to use one-liners and upon discovering this fact I did wonder if it would hurt his performance. However, he took a different approach to Jones and structured his set so as his story was told through a series of gags. This worked pretty well, giving him a creditable hit rate. Unfortunately the meat of the material involved giving a sperm sample and this has been covered by a few other comedians and so it didn’t feel as fresh as it might have done. However, the jokes were good and John delivered it with an energy that had everyone listening. This was a good performance.
Rushton continues to impress. He is unique thinker and his material is highly original, employing a lot of misdirection and intelligent reveals (perhaps was a very clever piece of material). Rushton is also a very engaging performer who speaks directly to audience members as he switches between low and high status. In short, there was a heck of a lot to like in this performance and he didn’t put a foot wrong, although I did prefer it when he didn’t explain why he had a stuffed tiger with him. I think that leaving it unexplained is possibly better in the long run as it adds an air of mystery to this talented act.
With his great presence and relaxed, but confident delivery, Carter had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand almost as soon as he picked the mic up. Tonight I saw some material that was new to me. The talk about addiction was powerful and he had everyone going in the wrong direction with it. The big reveal possibly suffered a touch from a woman talking across it (offering her congratulations just as Carter spoke), but it still worked very well. The joke about one of the greatest mysteries of the modern world was superb. I was especially pleased with plopscotch, which was a very vivid, yet accurate description. The timing on bear cash was nailed down to a tee and it was lovely to see him receive applause for the new c-bomb. Carter is a great performer whom audiences go with in a big way. He is a very eloquent performer and he’s going to go far.
Headlining was Scott Bennett, an act whom I’m constantly amazed isn’t a household name. Even when just talking about things he’s thought of that day he was razor sharp. His comedic instincts are honed to a fine degree. The names he chose for a couple of middle class people whom you wouldn’t want to know were just right to evoke the image he wanted to implant in the audience’s minds. The same could be said of Komodo Dragon – this was far enough out there to be totally unexpected, but not that far to break the immersion in a set that is so grounded in relatability. As ever, Bennett was magnificent. How much longer can it be before he comes to the attention of the nation?