Tonight I was at The Maze for the final ever Funhouse Comedy gig there. It’s a shame that this venue is closing down, it’ll be missed, but at least it went out in style. Number’s weren’t bad either and it was nice to see Michelle Harrison supporting the night, too. Spiky Mike had a fun time compering, discovering a lady who dealt with sex offenders, which prompted his next question, to her boyfriend, enquiring if that was how they met. There was a lady who dealt with holistic beauty, which involved something to do with electricity and a guy with the fake names of Eric and Leroy. Very quickly, the room was read for the first of our fourteen acts.
Wearing a suit, which reflected his job in banking, Singh came to the stage and pretty much compered the room, improvising a lot of stuff from people Mike had been chatting to a few moments before. On the plus side, this did feel of the here and now and it was relatable, but on the minus side, it made his actual material feel very flat. Singh repeated himself, almost doing a recap of what he had said so far of his material, after a few of the spots of room work and this didn’t help him build momentum. The end result was that this didn’t feel like a set that was going anywhere and he was voted off.
Gwynne’s set had potential. He had material about having OCD, Dyspraxia and Asperger’s, plus a nice line in jokes that edged towards the darker end of the spectrum. Most got laughs, some got groans and a few got a mix of both. A few even received applause. He has the basis of some decent material here. His down at heel persona didn’t quite sell all of his material, but he didn’t have a bad gig, being a late gonging. However, calling a member of the audience a sex offender, even in jest, is a high risk move. Luckily for Gwynne he picked an act and booker who is good natured, but even so, I doubt calling him a sex offender is the best way of getting onto one of his nights.
Crosse is much improved over when I last saw him. The writing was more inventive and he had more stage presence. The opening gag was an odd one. It was a rule of three, with no 2 being predictable (out of character, considering the freshness of the rest of the set), but no 3 being well thought out. Crosse made the final without any trouble and gave the room a great routine there.
Leadbetter opened by singing the first lines of Que Sera, Sera and it was pretty obvious where she was going with it. Unfortunately this could be said about a lot of the rest of the set. It was thin on surprises. Whilst you might not guess the exact punchline, it wasn’t hard to spot where Leadbetter was going. She did lose her place, but in a new act that wasn’t the end of the world and it did win the sympathy of the audience. However, it couldn’t compensate for the lack of energy or lift in the delivery. Leadbetter also delivered her set whilst backing away from the audience and this just made it look as if she was trying to leave the stage. Largely thanks to generous judging, Leadbetter made the final.
Lewis came to the stage full of confidence and performed his set without needing to use the microphone. I say performed rather than delivered, because the feeling was less of a comic and more of an actor filling a role. The material was ok, especially the bit about gongs and gongings, but it was the sense of performance that stood out. This was still a fun set and Lewis made the final, but there wasn’t a great feeling of comedy in this performance.
This was Barnes’ first ever gig and he didn’t do badly. He received laughs, but the material would require a bit of a rethink if he were to continue. Alluding to Grantham as being anywhere unpalatable to live in a town that is worse isn’t ever going to ring true and whilst his material on Thatcher being a bit unpleasant got a lot of support, there was a definite sound of low hanging fruit being plucked. Newton was more original and I was interested in where Barnes was taking us with his routine about teaching in Germany, but he ran out of steam here and was gonged.
Wager has a pleasingly eclectic approach to material and I like that. It’s refreshing. Unfortunately tonight he did manage to miss an open goal, though. Act 2, Nick Gwynne, had pointed out Wager as looking like a sex offender and he could have used this to win the support of the audience, through some timely and relevant callbacks to it. Unluckily for Tommy he didn’t tee it up by reminding the room of what had occurred one break and 4-5 acts ago and so when he got his reply in, it felt like he was attacking an act at random. This was a shame, because he’s a likeable chap and this would have helped him win over the room.
This was Battlemuch’s second ever performance and first ever gig and he was splendid. Wearing a dickie bow, jazzy shirt and a waistcoat he looked like a comedy magician and I was surprised to find that he wasn’t. He opened by referencing his attire, got big laughs for it and never really looked back. Granted, he had friends in the audience, but he wasn’t gifted laughs, he earned them with some strong material and a very engaging delivery. Battlemuch managed to nail how to use the tone of his voice and which syllables he laid the stress on in a word to get the most out of what he was saying. I was gobsmacked when he was voted off at the last minute, as was much of the audience. This was an incredible split decision by the judges. If Battlemuch can do so much correctly so early on, then with consistent gigging, he could well have a career in comedy.
Edmonds suffered a bit from following Battlemuch. This was Edmonds 6th or 7th gig and whilst his material at the moment isn’t quite punchy enough to stand out at a gong show, he is a good writer and this will stand him in good stead. Edmonds got a big laugh for his first joke after the audience had had a few seconds to digest it and he was doing alright, but lost a bit of momentum before a vote and off he went.
Next was a character act, Romaine, who was Londoner with a slightly questionable domestic life. There were some nice lines in here, such as the names of the kids – the third artist was a great joke – and it was a pleasingly upbeat set. Personally, I wasn’t that keen on it, but the audience liked it and I was surprised that she was another late gonging.
I only saw Peskett last week and he continued the good work this week with an eloquent performance tonight. He gave what was probably the best judged final minute of the show. Peskett was runner up tonight.
Newell had a great night. There was a heck of a lot to like in this set and he looked plausible from the off. Newell delivered his material partly bent towards the audience and this helped to make a connection with the room. On top of this he made good use of his vocal range and this added life to what he was saying. He also has likeability, which did him no harm at all. Beyond that, was a well constructed set with some strong material. The comment about the person on the stag night L….. was a superb line. This was a polished performance and Newell breezed into the final.
Reubens gave the room a strong set. In a show with a fair few good performances this was another one that might have won on a different night. The opening joke was fun and there was a lot of great stuff here, such as Bradford, hair, brother and especially dick pics. I did get to the bath reveal first and Trump is a slightly easy target, but these both got big laughs. Reubens made the final and was well supported there. I’ll be interested in seeing her develop as a comic.
Droch is a natural performer and audience’s take to him in a big way. His room work was well thought out and landed heavily – he even managed to get an Amen from everyone. Droch has improved his material and whilst it isn’t yet the finished article, it is far better than when I saw him in Leicester. This is a performer who oozes energy and atmosphere and who could probably make reading a shopping list exciting. Droch was the winner of the show.