Canal House: Rachel Morton-Young, Colin Etches, Benny Shakes, Tim Turner, Oscar Roberts, Dylan Dodds, Chris Norton Walker and Fran Jenking (MC)

Tonight I was in Nottingham at the Canal House for the Nottingham Comedy Festival. It was absolutely wonderful to see this room sold out, with no spare seats and huge queues for the bar. Whilst small intimate gigs are nice, the energy you get with over 100 people in a room is totally different. I think it surprises a lot of acts that regularly gig in London to see so many people happy to pay to see a midweek new material night.

Fran Jenking (MC)

I’d not seen Fran for a couple of years and it’s always a pleasure to see him at work. He is a natural people person and manages to put everyone at ease very quickly. Folk are happy to chat with him and he has no trouble in discovering facts about the people sat within range of the stage. Fran’s well disciplined, too, and doesn’t make the night all about him. He warms everyone up and then brings the acts on, whilst keeping the evening on schedule, in-between getting some good laughs himself. Tonight was another example from him of good compering.

Rachel Morton-Young

RMY has been living in Holland for twenty years and demonstrating that Dutch isn’t a sexy language provided her opening material. This was all very easy to get behind and by the time she was acting out getting a fitting the whole audience was with her. She struck a rich cord when speaking about her children, and for me, these were the best jokes in what was a good set. RMY was full of beans and her energy seemed to fill the entire room. This was a set that seemed to pass too quickly and I think the room would have liked more.

Colin Etches

It was great to hear an act open with a strong ‘Ey up’, although it was probably only myself that noticed it. Etches began by discussing names, moved onto talking about dyspraxia, which is not a topic that I’ve seen anyone else do material on and he finished with biblical material. All of this was good stuff, albeit with the biblical stuff probably containing the strongest jokes. Etches’ delivery was possibly a tiny bit more forceful than needed and it might be worthwhile him exploring relaxing a little bit on stage, but I could be wrong. Either way, this was a good set.

Benny Shakes

Shakes has been gigging a lot in the last few months and it shows. Everything about him has improved, especially his stagecraft, which is something that can only really be learnt by doing it. The disabled toilet routine was solid and whilst not everyone could see him acting it out on stage (the legs in the air were a super touch, here), it was easily imagined. Shakes received a lot of laughter and got applause for arm.

Tim Turner

This was Turner’s first ever gig. He opened by giving shout outs to Fran and Benny, which was nice, but ate up valuable time in his five spot and wasn’t funny. From here he launched into a monologue about a namesake of his that had a magic gold fish. Unfortunately, this was all pretty light on jokes. His delivery gave me the impression that he’d watched a lot of American comics with Netflix specials. Whilst this performance wasn’t great, from here, the only way is up and if he ever gigs again, I’m sure he will have learnt from this. It’s nice that NCF give brand new comics a chance.

Oscar Roberts

Roberts looks confident and with his relaxed, self-deprecating style of delivery, he’s very easy to listen to and to just settle back and enjoy. His material has a nice coherent feel to it and the whole lot comes together in a very satisfying manner, instead of feeling like a group of jokes with no connection to each other. His routine about learning skills from older women was very good. This was a performance that received consistent laughter.

Dylan Dodds

This was a fast moving comprehensive performance that ticked a lot of boxes. Without looking rushed, Dodds managed to include wordplay, visual acting out, singing and audience work. That’s quite an achievement. The writing and construction was intelligent and pretty much everything landed well. The only thing that could have improved this set was perhaps a bigger ending, as Dodd’s had done so well he deserved a big finishing joke, but I suspect that he was probably against the clock and so tapped out on cue to keep the night running smoothly, as he certainly has the skill to provide one. This was a very good performance.

Chris Norton Walker

CNW was getting laughs before he even reached the stage and once he got there, he built up the comedy atmosphere to tremendous levels. This was a set that included some new material and that was lovely to see. There were some very strong jokes here, with my favourite being ‘island’. The rest of the audience agreed – the girl sat to my left spat some of her drink out, she was laughing so much. There was an odd shout out of ‘Herman’ that he dealt with admirably and returned to later, for a well realised callback. His use of Stephanie as a foil was playful and worked very well. This was an impressive performance.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s