Acts that have impressed me the most – April 2019

This has been a fantastic month for live comedy. I have seen a huge number of amazingly talented acts and putting this together has been a real challenge with some very hard decisions being made.

As always, acts that have been mentioned recently are time-barred.

These are the acts that have impressed me the most:

Clayton Jones

Jones is a talented act who should be better known that he is.

From the night:

Jones had a great night. He began well and gave The Lescar a crowd-pleaser of a set that had everyone onboard. Jones’ performance was very well pitched and he managed to bring the audience into his set without making it look like he was working hard to do so and this takes a lot of skill. It was nice to see material on vaping, as that is something hardly ever covered in a set. Sex and songs was great (well acted out, too). Perhaps the best line was about bargains. The reveal on that was superb and would probably work even better the later in the set it was delivered. The only thing that I wasn’t that keen on and I was perhaps the only person in the room, was the use of the word ‘hope’ – it’s a line that is a bit overused. That minor point aside, this was a really good set from an act who is doing very well.

Duncan Oakley

A strong headliner.

From the night:

I’m surprised that Oakley didn’t get encored, as there were a fair few shouts wanting more when he had completed this cracking set. This was a performance that was highly creative, pleasingly light hearted and extremely entertaining all at the same time. It was peppered with puns throughout and involved the great use of a prop and musical instruments. Oakley is a very adept performer and even the little things, such as the movement of his eyes whilst he was giving some fatherly advice, was very expressive. Sometimes you can be enjoying yourself so much that twenty minutes passes all too quickly and this was one of those instances.

Josh Baulf

Lively and brightened up the room no end.

From the night:

Baulf had a belter of a night. The first thing you notice about him is his accent, but before you’ve even finished taking that in, you’re already having a great time. He has a wonderful mix of charisma and solid material. This was all relatable, or rather made to feel that way. Groupon was very good, but the drunken night out was superb. This was pushed even further along by Baulf’s performance. Without going overboard, he acted out a lot of what he was saying and this made it all feel very real to everyone. Baulf broke the 4th wall to chat to the audience about Derby train station and even this was top notch. There was a heck of a lot to like about this comedian. He’s definitely a bookable act.

Nina Gilligan (MC)

Affable, funny and with very strong people skills.

From the night:

Gilligan is a very skilled compere, who takes her warm personality onto the stage and exudes a cheerfulness that is infectious. She has the ability to make a fair sized gig feel intimate and inclusive, rather than audience and acts being separated by a gulf. There were some interesting people in the room, including Louise Haigh, MP for Sheffield Heeley, whom Gilligan referenced, used for a couple of polite jokes and then left her in peace on her night out, which was very nicely done. The star audience member was a police sgt, whom she made cheerleader for the night.

When I last saw Gilligan there, she had utilised the theme of getting to know people and had gone through the browser history of someone’s phone, which worked really well. She kept things fresh tonight by encouraging the audience to tweet her during the intermission on the theme of ‘extensions’. She asked for what people would like extending and why, with two free tickets to the next weeks’ show as a prize. This worked wonderfully well in not only further getting people engaged with the night, but also added to the feel-good nature of what she was doing. There were also some great tweets, such as Craig’s which was a callback to her compering and one (the winner) requesting an intimate body part being extended so that he could use it as a truncheon. As well as the room work there was a good amount of material being used and vajazzle was a real standout. This was great quality compering.

Honourable Mentions

David Eagle, Fran Jenking (MC), John Scott, Matt Bragg, Mick Ferry, Philip Simon, Thomas Green (MC), Tony Wright,

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The Little Last Laugh – Peter Brush, Tony Wright, Rudi Lickwood and Nina Gilligan (MC)

Tonight I was in Sheffield at The Lescar for a cracking night of comedy. The only problem was the attitude of the venue’s management to the show. Despite the comedy bringing in 80 customers every week, most of whom are putting good money behind the bar, it’s hard not to feel as though the night isn’t really welcomed by the management and is there on sufferance. The aircon hasn’t worked for months and it is a hot room even in April, so that will be a real problem in the Summer. The venue don’t make enough chairs available and so a lot of the audience have to stand and worst of all, there is an element of clock-watching, even though the pub doesn’t close for another hour after the show has finished. All of this is a huge shame and makes the job of the promoter a lot harder than it should be. Through good organisation and smart booking, this is still a great comedy night and would be if it had to move location, taking the customers with it.

Nina Gilligan (MC)

Gilligan is a very skilled compere, who takes her warm personality onto the stage and exudes a cheerfulness that is infectious. She has the ability to make a fair sized gig feel intimate and inclusive, rather than audience and acts being separated by a gulf. There were some interesting people in the room, including Louise Haigh, MP for Sheffield Heeley, whom Gilligan referenced, used for a couple of polite jokes and then left her in peace on her night out, which was very nicely done. The star audience member was a police sgt, whom she made cheerleader for the night.

When I last saw Gilligan there, she had utilised the theme of getting to know people and had gone through the browser history of someone’s phone, which worked really well. She kept things fresh tonight by encouraging the audience to tweet her during the intermission on the theme of ‘extensions’. She asked for what people would like extending and why, with two free tickets to the next weeks’ show as a prize. This worked wonderfully well in not only further getting people engaged with the night, but also added to the feel-good nature of what she was doing. There were also some great tweets, such as Craig’s which was a callback to her compering and one (the winner) requesting an intimate body part being extended so that he could use it as a truncheon. As well as the room work there was a good amount of material being used and vajazzle was a real standout. This was great quality compering.

Peter Brush

Brush was quite a contrast to the lively and outgoing Gilligan and he used this in a great opening joke that got everyone onboard. Every time I see Brush, I’m thoroughly impressed by the quality of his writing. It has an intelligence and elegance that is rare. He takes highly original concepts and makes them both relatable and funny. A lot of this comes from his attention to the minutiae – he paints a vivid picture – but most comes from his command of the English language. This was a superb set with a lot of laughter.

Tony Wright

I only saw Wright a few weeks ago and liked what I had seen. He’s got an eye for a good turn of phrase and has a lot of ability as a storyteller. Tonight he delivered his material with a tiny bit more force than what he had in Derby and I think that this added an extra bit of ooomph to what he was doing. Lowering the mic when he went off on a comic rant was a good idea, as this helped to make it feel more natural, even spontaneous. Tony’s rhythm of speech was also very beneficial to what he was doing. His habit of using short sentences, rather than just trying to get as much into one sentence as possible helped his timing no end. I liked the idea behind the car shouts, but felt that it needed a little bit more to get the most out of it. Mugging was a cracking story, as was the encounter with the stranger. The receipt joke was superb and I’m surprised that it didn’t get a bigger laugh than what it did.

Rudi Lickwood

Headlining was Rudi Lickwood who gave the Lescar a splendid time. He came to the stage full of beans and this was perfect to lift the energy levels in the room. He began by speaking quickly and talking directly to members of the audience. This established his presence very well and delayed the night’s tipping point, as he gained everyone’s full attention. There was a lot of stagecraft evident in this performance and this helped to push the routines. The material itself was all good stuff and it covered relationships, his house, gigs for the forces, race and Sharia law, which was a high point. Over the course of his set, Lickwood allowed the energy to drop a touch and this wasn’t a bad idea, because if he had kept up his initial pace, it would have left the audience feeling exhausted. As it was, the punchlines came thick and fast as he demonstrated an impressive work rate. This was a strong headlining performance.

Canal House – Ben Turner, Oliver Sillito, Chris Giles, Sarah English, Damon Conlan, Sam Mo, Si Deaves and Thomas Green (MC)

Tonight I was in Nottingham at the Canal House for the NCF £1 night. Despite there being a fair number of no shows from people who had booked tickets, there was still a good sized audience for the night. It was nice to see comedy booker Tommy Wager present and the only slight issue with the audience was one lady. She’d had a bit to drink and when our compere, Thomas Green, spoke to her at the top of the night, she claimed to be a sex worker, which didn’t throw him in the least. However, as the night went on, she did become a bit more vocal, claiming to be almost every trade that any of the acts mentioned. She wasn’t disruptive, but just a bit of a low level nuisance that the acts learnt to ignore.

Thomas Green (MC)

Green put in a stellar performance. Owing to various circumstances outside of NCF’s control, there wasn’t a headliner for the night and I wouldn’t be surprised if Green hadn’t been asked to do a little bit extra. He definitely came up with the goods. Fresh from the Australian comedy festival and oozing charisma with an edge, he had a great night. Green has a natural talent with mimicry and used this to get the most out of his routines. Green has a wonderful level of physicality and this adds a lot to what he does; in particular the play-doh mum was brilliantly delivered and brought the house down. During the 2nd and 3rd sections, Green did more material and this was all excellent. The only slight downer was that he perhaps did too well and the audience wanted more of him and so when he brought acts on, it felt like a bit of an anticlimax. This was a very strong performance from a comedian who is building a career out of comedy.

Ben Turner

Turner had a decent night, delivering one-liners and short form jokes. Whilst his first gag wasn’t of the same standard as many of his others, the following 3-4 jokes were all very good and he may have been better opening with them. Turner received applause for the topper on child, but knitting split the room 75-25 in his favour. In fairness it’s hard to tell dark jokes without losing at least a few people, especially when you are the first act on and Turner’s darker jokes were all good rather than gratuitous. I thought that Ben perhaps lost a bit of momentum when someone shouted out that his fly was down a bit, but it didn’t hurt his set too badly. It would benefit him, though, if he were to increase his pace a little bit, with shorter pauses between jokes, as this will help him maintain his impetus. This was a good start to the night.

Oliver Sillito

Returning to comedy after a period away, Sillito still has his performance skills. His rhythm of speech was absolutely spot on and that aided his delivery no end. He also has a likeable presence and that helped him get the audience onboard for a fun stunt. I wasn’t massively sold on some of the material, but I enjoyed the performance. It was nice to see him close on a call back.

Chris Giles

Giles was impressive, appearing warmer and demonstrating better performance skills than seen before. He had a good opening joke and followed it up with a very relatable routine about a pilot from Barnsley. Hailing from Doncaster, Chris has the perfect accent to do that routine justice and it got big laughs. The meat of the set concerned an unfortunate occurrence and this was very carefully set up to ensure that Giles wasn’t punching down. He succeeded in pitching this just right. The preamble to it did take a bit of time, but it was necessary and if it could be fortified with a few more jokes it would work even better. The actual event itself was brought to life very well and he got a lot of laughs for it. He has a powerful routine here. There was a lot to like about this set.

Sarah English

The audience liked English a lot. She received plenty of laughs and had a good night. Her material was well written and the physical action on choking was great. Personally, I found her a touch depressing, though. Well written as it was, her material was mostly pretty negative and her performance didn’t have a lot of energy, which in fairness, was in tune with the topics she was speaking about. So whilst she wasn’t really my cup of tea, pretty much everyone else was onboard and she has plenty of reasons to be happy with how the night went.

Damon Conlan

Conlan is a comedy magician and I was curious as to how he would find performing in a big room. The answer was pretty straight-forward. His tricks were visible for everyone and didn’t involve anything that would have lost those sat 60 feet away. There were three tricks performed, one involving rope, another a vanishing egg and an extra bonus one right at the end. These were all done with skill. Where Conlan fell down was on the comedy side. There were a couple of nice lines, such as the hashtag, but this is a set in need of more jokes or witty asides. A lot of promoters like acts with a difference and if Conlan can strengthen the comedy side of his act, then he will be very bookable.

Sam Mo

I think the room had reached a tipping point when Mo took to the stage and this hurt the reception that he got. Mo had done well when I saw him last, performing in Alfreton and tonight he had some very good routines, such as the pharmacy and the methadone. There were a few that required a little bit more, though. The school stuff early on didn’t quite work, Keele would have been better swapped for a Uni local to the gig and perhaps Hindu Kush made more explicit by going with Afghanistan, as I think a few people didn’t quite get it. Mo isn’t the finished product, but he’s definitely got some good ideas.

Si Deaves

Like Sam Mo, Deaves was hurt by the running order. Going on late, after the room had gone beyond the tipping point, Deaves didn’t do as well as what he would have done otherwise. The idea about anthropomorphised animals is novel and he could have got a lot out of it. However, throwing it open to the audience at that particular time didn’t really work. For every sensible suggestion he received, there was a ludicrous one and pretty quickly the whole thing looked like it would get out of hand. Deaves was wise to tap out of that and move on. A shame, because he’s definitely got something there. The phone call was very well written and like the earlier routine, original. Deaves received laughs and applause, but under different circumstances he would have done better. His ability was obvious and I would like to see him gig again.

The Little Last Laugh – Mick Ferry, Sean Moran, Clayton Jones, Duncan Oakley and Matt Stellingwerf (MC)

Tonight I was up in Sheffield at The Lescar for the Little Last Laugh. The venue was packed out and it quickly became very hot, but luckily this didn’t affect the audience’s enthusiasm for live comedy.

Matt Stellingwerf (MC)

In a superb touch, Stellingwerf opened his compering by telling the people on the front row that they were safe from him speaking to them (cue the house lights coming on) and that he was going to chat to the people stood at the back. He made a point of talking to the guy stood the furthest from the stage and this was wonderful. After this, Stellingwerf went with material, rather than room work and it felt less like he was compering and more like there was a bonus act on the bill. However, given the strength of his material and Stellingwerf’s skill in making it not feel like part of his regular set, this was very enjoyable. There were a lot of great routines being performed, such as the name of sports teams, dating (received some very nice applause) and a spot on section on Americans and war. Stellingwerf got a heck of a lot of laughs and it was lovely seeing him.

Mick Ferry

I’ve heard a lot of nice things about Ferry, but I’d not actually seen him perform until tonight. The first thing that strikes you is his presence. This is an act who carries himself in such a way that he’d stand out in pretty much any room. The second thing that you notice is the force of his delivery. Whatever he’s talking about, whether it be a birthday party, a mishap in his past or Parkinson’s, Ferry grabs your attention. The material was all good stuff and I got the impression that he could have carried on for a lot longer, going in all sorts of directions with what he was saying. This was a very strong set from a skilled performer.

Sean Moran

Stellingwerf received a lot of laughs during his second section and he may have inadvertently made it a little bit difficult for Moran to follow him. The change from the lively and energetic Stellingwerf to Moran was quite a difference in style and this possibly put him on the back foot. However, Moran didn’t make quite as big an impression as I think he would have liked. His material was decent enough, although I got to the odd reveal before he did and whilst Shawshank is an iconic film, it is 25 years old now and it felt a bit dated as a reference point. Performance wise, it would help if Moran had something more distinctive about himself. Being of average build, etc, he’s not physically notable, his delivery was conversationally mild and his material was all pretty mild, too, with nothing to really grab the audience by the balls and distinguish him from many other acts. This is a shame, because he didn’t do badly, he got laughs, but he didn’t stand out at all and unfortunately I think a lot of people there will have trouble remembering much about him or his set.

Clayton Jones

Jones had a great night. He began well and gave The Lescar a crowd-pleaser of a set that had everyone onboard. Jones’ performance was very well pitched and he managed to bring the audience into his set without making it look like he was working hard to do so and this takes a lot of skill. It was nice to see material on vaping, as that is something hardly ever covered in a set. Sex and songs was great (well acted out, too). Perhaps the best line was about bargains. The reveal on that was superb and would probably work even better the later in the set it was delivered. The only thing that I wasn’t that keen on and I was perhaps the only person in the room, was the use of the word ‘hope’ – it’s a line that is a bit overused. That minor point aside, this was a really good set from an act who is doing very well.

Duncan Oakley

I’m surprised that Oakley didn’t get encored, as there were a fair few shouts wanting more when he had completed this cracking set. This was a performance that was highly creative, pleasingly light hearted and extremely entertaining all at the same time. It was peppered with puns throughout and involved the great use of a prop and musical instruments. Oakley is a very adept performer and even the little things, such as the movement of his eyes whilst he was giving some fatherly advice, was very expressive. Sometimes you can be enjoying yourself so much that twenty minutes passes all too quickly and this was one of those instances.

The Blessington Carriage – Alex Love, Andrew Thompson, Stuart Thomas, Josh Baulf, Tony Wright and Philip Simon

Tonight I was in Derby at the Blessington Carriage for the Funhouse comedy night. There was quite a nice sized audience and it was lovely to see so many familiar faces there. One of the nice things about this gig is the audience. Apart from being friendly, they are a great mix of ages, occupations and level of comedy experience. A large number are regulars and are very clued up about comedy, but there are enough that are fairly new to balance this out and that helps to make this a very good gig for the comics to give new material a fair assessment and for Spiky Mike to get an appreciation of what an act can do. Mike had a good night compering, chatting to a group of students and a couple who he was hoping would get engaged that night.

Alex Love

Opening was Alex Love. He began with a fairly lengthy gag that whilst it got the energy levels up, wasn’t immediately funny enough to fully establish his comedy credentials, although the topper was nice. The follow up joke about his appearance was ok and the topper to that was great. Love used to be a reporter on a local paper in Stroud and this is material that felt fresh. However, although there were a few nice lines in this, I found that you could usually guess the direction Love was going with a joke and this did rob his material of a lot of its force. Whilst I don’t think his material stood out, being more amiable than great, what did impress was the energy and life that he brought to the room. Love was energetic and likeable and if he can match this with stronger material he’ll be much improved.

Andrew Thompson

I last saw Thompson doing a gong show at the Kayal and over five minutes he’d done well. He’d held the room and easily made the final that night, so I was curious to see how he fared over ten. Thompson speaks slowly, with his Scottish accent helping the words roll along and his style could be described as dead pan, surreal and with elements of anti-comedy. There are some nice ideas in this set, especially the renamed pub and you can definitely see what he’s trying to achieve. However, over ten minutes, the laughs didn’t come often enough to keep the audience and for those who weren’t onboard with his style, it was hard for Thompson to win them over and I think that even those who had enjoyed the first 5-6 minutes, perhaps found ten minutes to be a bit too much of a good thing for them. I believe what Thompson is trying to do has potential and it’s nice to see an act doing something different, but tonight he didn’t manage to pull it off. I think that with a bit more work on increasing the joke rate he’ll have more success.

Stuart Thomas

I saw Thomas put in a good performance in Stoke last year and it was nice to see him again. His material is well thought out and I enjoyed the routine about addiction a lot. The section on activism was even better, with the pun being a fun, knowingly silly, joke. I thought the ‘small country’ line deserved more than it received. The mathematics of the loaves and the fishes was as impressive as it was impeccable, but the set up did eat up a lot of time and whilst the pay off was decent, I’m not sure Thomas couldn’t have gotten more laughs in that time if he had done something different. However, if he were to expand it into a longer routine the time spent might perhaps be better justified, or if he were to edit the gag down it may work just as well and leave him more time for other jokes. This was a good set from someone who, whilst he isn’t there yet, is going in the right direction.

Josh Baulf

Baulf had a belter of a night. The first thing you notice about him is his accent, but before you’ve even finished taking that in, you’re already having a great time. He has a wonderful mix of charisma and solid material. This was all relatable, or rather made to feel that way. Groupon was very good, but the drunken night out was superb. This was pushed even further along by Baulf’s performance. Without going overboard, he acted out a lot of what he was saying and this made it all feel very real to everyone. Baulf broke the 4th wall to chat to the audience about Derby train station and even this was top notch. There was a heck of a lot to like about this comedian. He’s definitely a bookable act.

Tony Wright

The stylishly dressed Wright opened by talking about his appearance and background, which felt natural and addressed what might have become an elephant in the room. Quite often if an act looks exotic or has a hard to place accent, a fair percentage of the audience can be sat trying to work out their background, rather than actually concentrating on what they are saying and Wright did well to make a benefit of it. The material was enjoyable, especially his encounters with people in clubs and toilets. Wright has got a very clear voice and this carried nicely throughout the room. He also looked very comfortable on stage. He felt like a raconteur telling stories and I got the impression that he’d make a very good story telling comedian. He’d certainly have no problem drawing people in. There was a lot to like in this set.

Philip Simon

Simon gave the room a delightful headlining set. It was obvious that he’d spent his time listening to whom Mike and the other comedians had been talking to and so he was very clued up on what had been said to whom and was able to not only make use of that, but he didn’t put his foot in it by getting the wrong person. This was a welcome professional touch. The jokes were fun, involved a nice level of misdirection and came thick and fast. For much of his set, Simon’s work rate was close to that of a one-liner comedian and this helped to ensure that there was constant laughter. He seemed to skirt on the edge of applause for ‘conference’ and it would have been nice if he had received an applause break, because he certainly deserved it. Probably the funniest moment came when he asked the audience about online dating and one honest person admitted that they’d done it. Upon him enquiring about which site she used, the reply came, ‘it’s called tinder,’ spoken as if she’d be surprised he’d ever heard of it. Philip jumped on this and gently got a lot of laughs from it. This was a splendid performance from a skilled comedian who should gig up here more often.

Canal House – Dan Nicholas, Nathan Gibbons, Mustafa Fecto, Oscar Roberts, Mark Row, Ben Clover, Hannah Silvester and Adam Coumas (MC)

Tonight I was in Nottingham at the Canal House for the NCF £1 night. It was nice to see so many acts new to me on the bill, with there being a fair few London based acts that had travelled up. Whilst the room was quite as full as what it usually is the audience were in a fine mood and well disposed towards having a great night.

Adam Coumas (MC)

Coumas did well tonight, finding a good balance between room work and material. He began by working in references to the local shit and rival towns, which gave him some credibility quickly. This was then followed by chatting to the audience, with most of the lads sat on the front row giving the highly suspect profession of ‘lollipop man’, apart from one genius who claimed to be a road safety warden. Following this, Coumas went with material to get people out of interactive mode and into listening mode. I could have done without hearing about vegans being malnourished, as that has become a bit too well used, but everything else was sound. Vaping was strong and names was even better. Coumas made good use of his eyes and facial expressions in selling what he was saying and this added a lot to his performance. During the second section, he discovered a couple who were on a rebound date following a dramatic Boxing Day split and here he trod a fine line between roasting the guy and insulting him, but he pulled it off to huge laughs. This was very good compering that was only slightly let down by overrunning a bit and doing a bit between each act. Beyond that, all was good. I’d like to see Coumas do more compering, as he’s obviously got a talent for it.

Dan Nicholas

Nicholas is superb performer with an eye for the unusual. Tonight, he made his way to the stage slowly, shaking hands, high fiving people and demonstrating a mastery of being funny without saying anything. I don’t know of many acts who could stay silent for the first 2-3 minutes of their set, keep most of the audience and get laughs. Nicholas got a heck of a lot out of miming and silently teasing the audience. From here he went on to talk about weddings, which whilst it was good, after his dramatic opening, felt a touch anticlimactic. This was unfortunate as there was a lot of decent stuff in there.

Nathan Gibbons

Sporting a big Afro, Gibbons began with a series of lookalike gags, which were ok, but nothing that no one wasn’t really expecting. From here he went on to talk about schools, soft drinks and sexuality. You could see the structure of the set, but Gibbons didn’t really pull it off. He wasn’t helped by holding the mic too low, but his biggest problems came from not really having enough swagger in his presence and the material being a bit low powered. The best part of his set was the notion of the walk of shame, but I wasn’t too keen on the joke about not being able to give someone a name and still giving it, as it is overused.

Mustafa Fecto

Fecto was a lovely surprise. He’s not got a huge amount of presence and this is a shame, because his material was excellent. Speaking with a surprising American accent, he gave the most tightly written set of the night. The Farage joke was great, pescatarian was fantastic and there was nothing that fell flat or felt forced, apart from saying ‘hear me out’ twice. For someone who is an elegant writer, he can do better than using that well travelled phrase after he has said something challenging. There was one moment where I thought the room came close to becoming a verbal free for all when lots of people gave their opinions on Nottingham Trent, but he got everyone back. This was a very strong set from Fecto.

Oscar Roberts

Roberts had a good night. His opening jokes all landed well and he received big laughs. The new material did swimmingly and his use of language is improving. He does speak a little bit quickly at times and I think a few people might have missed the odd word here and there. The PE routine is getting better, but coming almost out of the blue, it’s quite a change in pace and he’s still not keeping everyone for it. However, everything else worked extremely nicely.

Mark Row

Coming to the stage full of energy Row didn’t seem to put a foot wrong. His jokes were good, his timing great and the game of ‘would you rather’ was magnificently refreshing. This in particular was something different to a comic doing routines and there was a definite enthusiasm for him mixing the format up a bit by including it. This was a powerful performance that was very well received.

Ben Clover

Initially, I wasn’t that impressed by Clover. His opening question about dry January felt very dated now that we’re in April, but I was wrong to judge him so quickly. The material that followed (and was linked to dry January) about his partner was delightful, with the pay off on the meal being especially good. Just when Clover was getting into the swing of things, a couple on the second row returned to their seats very late and he asked them for their reason. The male half announced that they’d been delayed because his partner had been bent over the canal. This was a gift to the quick thinking Clover, who without seeming to pause for breath, improvised a five minute routine about this chap being a sex God. Living in the moment, Clover had a wonderful time painting a vivid picture of this person’s prowess and got massive laughs in response. After this it was impossible for him to go back to what he had been talking about and he carried on ad-libbing and the laughter was perhaps all the greater for it. This was a magnificent performance.

Hannah Silvester

Silvester gave the room an enjoyable closing set. Mixing new material with established she did very well. Her opening remarks concerning the younger guys sat on the front row were well judged. Confidence was a fun routine, where her ability to bring life to each thought was a big bonus. It was nice to see Captain Marvel used as a bang up to date reference. The material about Cadbury’s was entertaining, down to earth and interesting. Despite the room having reached a bit of a natural tipping point, Silvester received good laughs and had a great night.

The New Barrack Tavern – Lindsey Santoro, Adam Elmi, Jen Bower, Max Poole, John Scott and Fran Jenking (MC)

Tonight I was back up in Sheffield at The New Barrack Tavern for the Funhouse Comedy night. Numbers were a touch down on last week, but not disastrously so. As always, it was nice to see Wayne and Lou there.

Fran Jenking (MC)

Last week Fran had done very well and he continued the good work this week. There were enough new members of the audience present that he didn’t speak to anyone whom he chatted with last time. In fact, he largely chatted to two groups of people, but both had a lot of comedy value. There was a firefighter and his partner and Ozzy the Owl, or rather the man behind Sheffield Wednesday’s mascot. Both parties were interesting and Fran, with his easy going nature and people skills, got good laughs from them and we were soon ready for our opening act.

Lindsey Santoro

There was a lot to like in Santoro’s set. She’s down to earth and her performance carried a level of authenticity that people enjoyed. Whilst the room seemed a little bit reticent at first, perhaps due to her material being a bit near the knuckle so early in the night, they still liked her a lot and once they’d warmed up they got fully behind her. Santoro was very aware that she was performing in front of a live audience and, with good results, worked hard to make them feel part of the show. The material itself was strong, with sacred triangle and the bath bomb both being standouts. This was a great set that I enjoyed, but if she had edited it down a touch, she would have done even better. Santoro is an act that is going places.

Adam Elmi

Like Santoro, Elmi did very well when he broke the 4th wall and it would be nice to see more of that. I get the impression that Elmi can also think on his feet and I shouldn’t be surprised if he could get a lot out of audience interaction. The material was very good and he remains one of the few acts who has an excellent McCann joke that doesn’t feel forced. Tonight Elmi had a good gig and is progressing very nicely.

Jen Bower

Bower is a new act and although inexperienced, didn’t have a bad night. At the moment a lot of the material is in the form of anecdotes and needs a bit of work to get the most out of it. Some parts could do with editing down, cutting out the extraneous words so that people get to the funny sooner. A lot could do with a twist, or a topper, to really ramp up the humour. The strongest line was involving the number of children she has and this was definitely a good one. Bower’s a new act, but she didn’t look out of place and has a base from which to build.

Max Poole

Speaking in short concise sentences, it was very easy to follow all that Poole was saying. His set had a great structure to it and everything came together nicely. I was surprised that he didn’t close on a callback to the heart, though. The material felt original and was fun, with the odd touch of dark, so it was no surprise that he received consistent laughs. One improvement, suggested by Wayne Bamforth (Last Laugh) was that the routine about the names would work better if Poole were to keep the specific film names secret until the airport, as the added element of surprise would ensure that the jokes landed a lot harder and I’m in full agreement. This was a strong set that could be improved further.

John Scott

Headlining was John Scott, who was not only looking in good shape physically, but had a great mental sharpness to him, too. Scott had a flying start and never let up the pressure. This was a performance where the laughter rolled throughout the length of the set. The well written material could be divided into three areas, life in general, politics and mental health. All three were very strong and I was amazed he had to wait as long as he did for his first applause break. This was a fantastic performance.