Tonight I was in Southwell, fifteen minutes from home, for the Funhouse Comedy gig at The Saracen’s Head. Our compere, Spiky Mike, opened by asking a lady sat on the front row if she was really checking Facebook. This turned out to be a well known local personality, Lady Victoria, whom most of the audience knew very well. From here Mike chatted to Jack, who worked for the CPS. He was very quick on the uptake in answering questions and gave witty, useable replies and this made for a very good opening to the night. The fact that Faye, Jack’s partner, worked with crime scenes was merely the icing on the compering cake. As a member of the CPS, Jack’s opinion on Jo Brand’s recent incident was sought and he was applauded for his announcement that there could be no prosecution, but he was then very quickly booed for mispronouncing Southwell. Very soon the room was ready for our opening act.
Lexx is a skilled act who has plenty of ability. She was a bit more sweary than what you usually see in Southwell, but as the audience warmed to her quickly, this didn’t really make any difference. Lexx opened by discussing preconceived opinions about looks and I really liked the line about people having to update their decisions. This was then followed by a fair sized routine about Brexit and where the fault for this lay. The idea underpinning this was interesting and Lexx was scrupulous to poke fun at the extremes of both ends of the spectrum. However, despite the basic honesty of what she was pointing out, it did feel a little bit preachy and whilst the room went with it for most of the way, I think everyone was relieved when she moved onto love, socks, spag bol and gluten. This was solidly relatable stuff and held the best received sections of her set. The routine about the environment was very similar to that on Brexit – truthful, in accordance with many people’s view, but again a little bit too preachy to really enjoy as much as it should have been. Lexx is a lively performer who talks with her hands and I loved the cheeky bow on the pun. This was a funny opening set that strayed a little bit too much into comedy with a message.
Out of all of the sets tonight, Hawkins’ was the one that I enjoyed the most. He has recently changed his image, losing a bit of weight, having a new hairstyle and wearing a jacket. This makes him look more serious, which matches very well with his delivery style. It also makes him look younger. He opened with a story that drew everyone in, skirted with applause for it, received the applause for his second joke and then more applause for the callback to Lady Victoria. The depth that Hawkins’ delivery gives to the stories is impressive. It gives them an authenticity that helps the audience to invest in what he is saying and then when the punchline comes, it hits like a hammer. I especially enjoyed his nonchalant look on ‘of them’. This was a performance that everyone I spoke to really rated and it’s great to see Hawkins doing well.
With his velvet suit, moustache and hair, Thompson was visually interesting and this made a good first impression. His style was short routines and one-liners. There were some good jokes in here, such as the watch and he received laughs for every gag. However, whilst everyone laughed at some jokes, there wasn’t any where everyone in the room laughed and it would have helped him out no end if he had had 2-3 big killer jokes that the whole room laughed at. This was a set that people seemed to dip into, rather than buy into wholeheartedly.
I think everyone knew that they were in for something special when the stage was moved and Raymond and Timpkins set up their store of props wearing flat caps and overalls, ala Morecambe and Wise. These two specialise in musical prop jokes and their performance is imaginative, madcap and a spectacle to behold. Their synchronisation is amazing and everything flowed with perfect timing. There was a heck of a lot of laughter during their set, with the jokes coming very quickly. Needless to say, they stormed it and the audience thoroughly enjoyed seeing them.