Blessington Carriage – Tom King, Lindsey Santoro, Matt Smith, Anthony Ayton, Scott Bennett and Alasdair Beckett-King

Tonight I was in Derby for the Funhouse comedy night at the Blessington Carriage. There was a lovely crowd present who were definitely up for a night of laughter. There was a group of nine there, eight of whom who were more than happy to shop the one person who’d never been before and so this led into Mike having a lot of fun with her. One of the highlights of Mike’s compering was him chatting with a witty dustbin lorry driver, who had a few funny comments, but who was also wise enough not to push it too far. This was a great night of comedy, where every single act did very well. Our opening act was Tom King.

Tom King

The last time I saw King it had been where he had won a competition at a totally crazy night in Chesterfield. Here the MC had received more than he wanted when he had asked a boxer to punch him, one act had called the audience a bunch of c**** in a high risk move that didn’t pay off, one comic had stripped naked when he died and another had started his set in his pants in an ironic callback to this that worked a treat. So naturally, it was nice to see King at a more normal night and this was one where he had everyone onboard from the first gag. The opening song was followed by a nicely only for that audience line about where they had seen him previously that was really in the moment and was an instant hit. Testosterone was a nice line and it was good to hear material about The Pusher, a topic that only Moorhouse has done material on so far. King’s take was highly different to that and whilst it is already a good routine, I believe that he could add to it and make it a real standout. Unusually there were a few erms in the delivery, but not enough to be a problem. This was a set that included songs, lookalike insults, jokes and lists and as a result it seemed to be constantly and refreshingly moving forwards and never came close to outstaying its’ welcome. The only downside was that there wasn’t a big ending, but I rather feel that King ran out of time before he got to that. This was a very enjoyable performance and I’d like to see King doing some longer sets.

Lindsey Santoro

I saw Santoro performing in a bunker in early September and whilst she’d not had a bad night there I could see definite improvement had taken place between the gigs and this was nice to see. There were some good lines in this set. Ring is superb, the first poem was good, birth was fun, sample tied in nicely to King’s material (a shame it was referenced) and the bath was a cracking routine. The delivery was smooth and endearing too, which the audience appreciated. However, I wasn’t keen on Jeremy Kyle’s holding pen coming into play as too many other comics have used this line. A lot of the material featured arses and foos, which over ten minutes wasn’t a problem, but over a longer set a bit more variety may keep it from sounding like a variation on a theme. Santoro had a good night and received a lot of laughs.

Matt Smith

We resumed after the intermission with Matt Smith whom I last saw about 18 months or so ago and I could see how in the meantime he had chopped and changed his set for the better. It was a bit odd seeing him on the same bill as Tom King, as they are both big burly chaps with big beards and I’m sure if they’d swapped clothes the audience would have mistook them. Smith toyed with the audience, doing deliberately long set ups before hitting them with the reveal. On the one hand, this built up the tension, but I did think he came close to losing the room with the time he took over chips. However, when he finally got to the punchline of that it hit the room like a sledgehammer, getting a huge laugh and a lot of applause. I can see his style working well, although I still think it wouldn’t hurt for the set ups to have a bit more humour in them. Smith closed his set off with style.

Anthony Ayton

Ayton had a buoyant delivery that helped him sell his material. However, he didn’t really say a lot that hasn’t already been said by other people. Being used as a spokesman has been done by Caton, having nothing worth nicking in the 1950’s by Carrott, although he chose a mangle as the object and a tall comedian talking about what people say to them about their height has been done by most comics over 6’3. This familiarity didn’t help Ayton, but luckily his likeability and delivery ensured that he entertained the audience. This was a good set, despite the topics having been done by others. I’d be very interested in seeing what Ayton could do with more unique material; I’ve a feeling it would be impressive.

Scott Bennett

I only saw Bennett the other day where he had run through his hour show, so I’ll keep this brief. The purpose of tonight was for him to hone some new material and as this was Scott Bennett this meant that it was already excellent. There were the odd bits that he might dispense with or alter, but these were few and far apart. This was a smashing set that the audience loved.

Alasdair Beckett-King

King is visually interesting and this gives him a great gateway into his set, as it is all instantly relatable. He is also audibly nicely different – his soft accent and cultured voice is wonderfully disarming and one instantly knows that he isn’t going to be picking on anyone. Beckett-King reminded me a bit of Wrigglesworth as they are both wordsmiths and have a fantastic command of the English language. One difference is that Wrigglesworth does long routines and Beckett-King shorter, more punchy ones. This was a very intelligent set and I think that audiences find it rewarding when they have to work a bit to get all of the jokes. There were a lot of outstanding routines, with rare creatures being superb, as was the dictionary definition. I especially enjoyed the depiction of the window scene, which although slightly macabre was bloody funny. This set was delivered with a quiet panache and Beckett-King will go far.

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The Ned Ludd: Rightly or wrongly, for better or worse the fact is this is Tom Little

Owing to all of the fireworks last night, it’s easy to forget that tonight is actually Bonfire night. I didn’t really give it much thought myself, although I was certainly reminded in a big way on my journey home when I found thousands upon thousands of people in the road watching the municipal fireworks display. This goes a long way to explaining why there was a small, but enthusiastic audience in the Ned Ludd to see Tom Little.

Little is an act whom I’ve only seen a couple of times, but as I enjoyed each performance it made watching his show: Rightly or wrongly, for better or worse the fact is this is Tom Little, an easy choice to make. Jeanette Bird-Bradley, who is gaffering the shows at the Ned Ludd had done a good job in arranging the room and with all of the audience sat close together, this made for a nicely intimate show.

Tom eased the audience into the night by enquiring what other shows people had seen and for an act on their way up, it must be gratifying to hear that strangers are quite happy to take a punt on seeing you. This was a bit of an odd show in that Little chopped out a few bits of the narrative for reasons of numbers, but more than made up for this with 4th wall breaking digressions and deconstructions. I think given the circumstances, this was easily the best way forwards and there was a lot of charm in it. The topics were a nicely quirky bunch and surprisingly clean, with feed being a huge standout routine. Brucie drew everyone in, the cake monologue was well delivered and the spelling test was a joy to see. I enjoyed the First World War analogy, but felt that the third horror might have worked better if it hadn’t been an horror, but something humorous. The word play was great and assisted him in helping the flow of the show. I especially enjoyed the material about pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis and I think that I can say that unless there is a Catchword fan doing comedy somewhere, it is definitely unique to Tom.

Little has a lightning fast paced delivery and it took a moment or two to tune into it, but once you had, then this was not a problem at all and over the hour, this fast speed gave the room a lot of value for their money as he perhaps managed to squeeze in 70 minutes of material. I was a trifle surprised that Tom left it so late to mention his Cumbrian accent, as I’m sure most of the audience were trying to place it. There were a couple of lines that were fluffed, but I think that this was due to him having to rejig the show as he went along more than anything else and Little certainly got laughs when it happened and this added no end to the intimate feel of the room.

This was a show that I enjoyed. There was a lot of good quality material in evidence and the delivery added a lot to it. Little is one of those acts that I wished didn’t live on the other side of the country, as I’d like to see more of him.

Josh Pugh – The Nuneaton and Hinckley Technical College Review and Scott Bennett v Scott Bennett

This afternoon I was at the Navigation for two shows of the Nottingham Comedy Festival. This was tricky to get to owing to masses of traffic, but luckily I got there before the show started. The actual comedy itself takes place upstairs in what you would expect to be the landlord’s living room and you wouldn’t wander up there by accident, so it’s useful to have it signposted. There weren’t many empty seats in the room and as the afternoon went on first the emergency seats were brought out and then even more chairs were found as people came to see the comedy. In addition to the audience was Nick Mellors, one of my fellow panellists on the Midlands Comedy Awards and Elliott Bower, who kept himself separate. One bonus of an afternoon gig like this is that it gives acts of the calibre of Pugh and Bennett a chance to perform without getting in the way of their paying work on a Saturday night. Fran Jenking is hosting the shows here and he’s got a sure touch. He kept things on track, warmed the room up and didn’t make the day all about him. It’s always a pleasure to watch Fran compering. The first show was Josh Pugh’s

Josh Pugh – The Nuneaton and Hinckley Technical College Review

Pugh is an original thinker; whatever he does in the way of material you can guarantee that it will always be creative and unexpected and so spending some time watching him was an easy decision for me to make. He began well by referencing the unusual artistic figures placed at the back of the room, making some funny comments that were obvious in the kind of way that only a genius would think of it, but then once said got everyone thinking he’s right. One of the fun things about watching Pugh in action is that if you know where the reveals are, you can sit back and enjoy watching the audience be surprised by them, as they are all but impossible to guess on the build up.

There were a lot of highlights to this work in progress show. The triple laugh on kiss was wonderful, off-piste was great and the story of the jacket built very nicely. Possibly the strongest element of the show was just how relaxing it all was. The pacing was spot on and the laughs came regularly, but not that often to get the audience laughed out after 20 minutes, which seems a bit counter-intuitive. Plasterer needed a bit more and I’ll have to google the head coach to get that reference, but everything else was great. Pugh is a fabulous act who is on the way up.

Scott Bennett v Scott Bennett

Bennett is a fantastic act whom I’ve never seen have anything less than a smashing gig. I’m not saying I’d pay to to hear him recite his shopping list, but I’d definitely think about it, because he can make pretty much anything funny. He’s hard working and is a perfectionist, so watching him perform a work in progress is a treat.

He took to the stage resplendent in a boxers’ robe, which was to tie in with the theme of the show. The material covered a wide range of topics, such as his journey as a performer (it would have been nice to hear of his triumph in supporting Rob Brydon, but it wouldn’t fit in with the tone), children, kid’s telly, a garden centre, mother’s advice and one of my favourite jokes: Bond. All of this was rendered massively accessible by Bennett, who paints not only a vivid picture, but one that is recognisable to everyone. As a chap whom I was talking to yesterday said, this is a comedian that you can take everyone along to see as they will all get it.

Everything was a hit and generated huge laughs, although the small routine about being on the loo was probably superfluous when the previous nappy based one and the shed are considered, but all the same it was a nice concept. Being picky, the garlic argument was a touch depressing and changing a letter on a place of work is a bit commonplace, but as I say, I’m being picky with pointing these out. I was impressed with just how splendidly Bennett rolled with an audience member being called Gordon Ramsey (real name), who sold catering equipment. Something as oddball as that could have sent him off in any number of directions, but luckily he kept his comments on it brief and funny before returning to the show.

Bennett has bags of material and he delivers it quickly. This gives the audience a lot of words to take in. It’s all very funny and the quality was great. However, it is perhaps a bit too much without something to give the audience something visual to focus on to ease the brain. There are a couple of wonderfully bizarre celebrity jobs that make an appearance and if he were to have something mocked up showing them at work that he could display on a screen plus a few other bits and bobs, it might work very well. The show title and theme tended to get lost amongst the laughter the routines generated and if you were to ask any of the fifty or so people in the room what the show’s theme was, I think you would get any number of different answers. To me, this doesn’t matter a bit, I believe that the purpose of a show is to be funny and this show is most definitely funny.

Glee – Abigoliah Schamaun, Rachel Fairburn, Mike Bubbins and Andre Vincent (MC)

Tonight I was in Nottingham at the Glee Club for the opening of the Nottingham Comedy Festival. There was a champagne reception laid on, with local worthies, such as the Lord Mayor, Castle Rock (the sponsor) and so on present. This was all rather nice, but the main event was the comedy show upstairs. The room was mostly full and luckily, or possibly due to a shrewd door policy, no errant stag or hen parties had discovered Glee now that Jongleurs is no longer an option. The audience were, however, pretty reserved.

Andre Vincent (MC)

With his lively Oi Oi greeting each time he came to the stage Vincent made an interesting compere. He began with a few jokes about him being fat and whom he’s been compared to, but considering his hair and beard, I thought Lon Chaney’s (Jnr) Wolf Man might have been a shoo in. It was a bit odd hearing Vincent comment so often about being fat, as from where I was sat he just looked like a well built chap with broad shoulders, rather than being on the chubby side. He had fun with the people at the front, asking questions about their meals, discovering who was out with whom and so on and this was all alright. He did far better when he had an opening concerning a couple that were out, but weren’t together and he demonstrated a lot of sharpness here and got a lot of laughs for it. The ad libs about the Mayor being present were good, as were his words about the likely designer of Nottingham. However, what stood out the most was the quality of his material about Yorkshire and a kid on a bus. These were both excellent routines that I really enjoyed. Vincent had plenty of authority and he set the room up nicely. This was good compering.

Abigoliah Schamaun

Schamaun demonstrated that sometimes when a comic isn’t having everything land with the audience it can be best not to mention it. Or at least not to keep commenting on it; as I felt that whilst she didn’t have a great gig, her diagnosing how well it was going, or how certain jokes were splitting the room persuaded people that it was going worse than it actually was. Schamaun was a confident fast talking presence, who was happy to mix material with some audience work. However, talking about pictures of food posted online has been done too often for it to really work that well. The material about drugs definitely split the audience and might have worked better if she had been on later in the bill. Her routine about complimenting female comedians made a good point, but it needed more that was funny in it. On the other hand, she had some good strong stuff about differences between Americans and Brits, but these observations are pretty much the usual stock in trade for a comedian born elsewhere. One of the biggest issues I had with enjoying Schamaun and this is pretty much personal to me, was her accent. She’s from Ohio and her pronunciation of Nottingham as Notting haaaaaaaam just grated on me and I found it hard to get over her accent. This was unfortunate and whilst it wasn’t my cup of tea, I dare say a lot of other people enjoyed listening to her accent. Schamaun didn’t have a great night, but didn’t do that badly with the audience. She’d have been better later on the bill.

Rachel Fairburn

I’ve only seen Fairburn once before and that was in Edinburgh where she was a panellist on Hell to Play and considering the format of that, she hadn’t really had a lot to do, so I was looking forwards to seeing her tonight. Fairburn’s material was autobiographical in content, without any huge leaps in structural logic and this made it relatable, accessible and easy to follow. Snapchat is a topic that not many people are doing material on and so its appearance in her set was more than welcome. The jokes about the famous moustache were great, especially the topper. Possibly the biggest laugh came when she broke the fourth wall to chat to a girl who was laughing at her boyfriend snorting at a joke. Whilst this did break the rhythm of the routine she was on, Fairburn did well with it. However, this was a set that seemed to plateau. With her conversational low energy not quite a monotone delivery, this was a performance that never really seemed to build up. It reached a decent level and stayed there – if it were a car journey, then it would have been one that stayed in 4th gear through all of the twists and turns. This was an enjoyable performance, but one that needed more on the delivery to really sell the material.

Mike Bubbins

I’d last seen Bubbins in this very room a couple of years ago, where he had delivered a splendid set and so I was especially keen to see him tonight. Some people dress in a certain way to make a point, or to be ‘interesting’. In contrast, Bubbins dresses as if he’s just stepped out of 1974 simply because he likes the decade and that means he looks incredibly comfortable in a loud shirt and stylish jacket. The 1970s features a lot in his set, but he doesn’t go for obscure references that show how much he knows, instead he keeps it to the straightforward and accessible and it works very well. Evel Knievel, still famous, provided the basis for a strong routine and a lovely show closing callback. The rest of the material was equally powerful, with birth, shit town top trumps and the delights of Barry Island being thoroughly enjoyable. The newer material, such as the agricultural show (surnames was wonderfully subtle) and questionable sports were both superb. Bubbins is a more energetic performer than you’d expect and he certainly sells his set very well. His ability to do an accent is a huge attribute and really brought what he was saying to life. This was a smashing performance.

October – acts that have impressed me the most

This has been a splendid month for comedy. Although I have only seen 46 acts, the quality has been superb. This has really highlighted what a real shame it is that more people don’t go and see live comedy unless there is a TV name involved. As always, acts that I recommended the month or so before are time barred from appearing again.

The highlight of the month was easily the Funhouse Champion of champions gong show final: 9 acts, all excellent and all on top form. This was simply a cracking night where no one had a weak gig.

The low light was performer who just didn’t show at a gig. No phone call, no messages, just a no show. This was the second time that this particular act had been on a bill and had done a vanishing trick. For this to happen once it is bad luck, but for it to happen a second time it’s a bit rum – stage time is at a premium and someone else could have had a chance.

These are the acts that have impressed me the most this month:

Ben Briggs

Briggs has made a name for himself for being dark and edgy, but there is a heck of a lot of depth to him and his intelligent approach to writing should take him far.

From the night:

Briggs was doing new material and it’s always interesting seeing what he has to offer. Despite the audience not being huge he treated the gig as if it had sold out and gave a headliner performance. He opened with a heavy hitting gag about a biker’s gig and then built from there. The theme of the set was racism and Briggs eased the audience into it by talking about voting, elections and brexit. This worked well to establish both his ability and personality with the audience. A white comedian doing material about race generally goes one of three ways: they either touch on it and then quickly move on, draw the comedy in broad strokes or become preachy and parade their more right on than thou credentials. Briggs managed to avoid coming close to any of those. He was nuanced, got his point across and was very funny, building loads of momentum. He’s obviously put a lot of thought into this and it is an intelligent routine with a lot of laughs. This was a great set and I can see why he’s been booked for a week of three gigs a day in Chicago.

Jem Braithwate

A very new act, only aged 18 and not that experienced, but with loads of potential. Braithwate has funny bones and with enough stage time he will develop into a solid act.

From the night:

Living the furthest away by quite a margin, I shouldn’t be surprised if Braithwaite actually volunteered to go on first. Wearing a cape, which gave him the look of a substitute teacher at Hogwarts, Braithwaite made an immediate visual impression. This impact was magnified by his splendid intonation and his wonderfully offbeat material. All of this was then added to by his physical performance, which consisted of him jerking from side to side as if the remote control working him was being used as a stage to riverdance on by a group of hamsters. All of this combined made a huge impression and Braithwate received big laughs throughout his set. He did run out of material at the 6 minute mark, but such was the strength of his persona that even just faffing about for the last minute he remained compulsive viewing and got big laughs. With just one more joke, I think he would have made the final, where he would surely have been in with a chance of winning. This is a man who most definitely has funny bones.

Leo Kearse

Good well written material and a great presence.

From the night:

I’d only seen Kearse once before at Nottingham Jongleurs where he had impressed me; so when I almost bumped into him when hanging up my hat and coat, it came as a nice surprise to see him there. Kearse began strongly with material relating to his name and background and then he built on this with a very powerful set that covered a lot of ground and which never came close to getting bogged down. His material had an internal logic to it that helped it to stay not only consistent to what he had said previously, but which helped the audience to stay with him throughout his set. And the audience most definitely were with him, youngish and old, women and men, all were laughing heartily at what Kearse was saying, especially Judi Stafford, sat 6′ away from me, whose laugh seemed to echo about wonderfully. Kearse has a definite presence, which combined with his speedy delivery gave more impetus to what he was saying. His room work was good, when he put Ken, a distinguished looking elderly chap, on the spot and then ran with his reply was a lot of fun. I did have two small quibbles, neither of which are serious: ‘so I was in…. because it’s going well’ is a bit overused as a line, but as with most of these things, it got a laugh. Kearse also said ‘know what I mean’ three or four times, but I was probably the only person who noticed, so again, far from the end of the world. When I saw Kearse previously he had a magnificent routine about a trip to the Far East and some shenanigans involving a toilet – this routine was fantastic, so when to close he announced he’d been travelling I was fair hoping he was going to close with this. Instead it was a train based routine, which had improved since I saw it before and whilst not as superb as what I was hoping to see, was still a very good closing routine to what had been an excellent set.

Mark Simmons

One-liners plus sound performance skills, this act is a real found.

From the night:

Simmons was a lovely surprise, giving the room a change of pace with his one-liners. It was also nice that he changed into a suit and shirt to perform, which I think beneficial to the audience’s first impression of an act. Oddly Simmons didn’t do his gag that Dave selected for one of their top jokes of the Fringe, good as it is. Despite that being on their list, he had far better jokes in his arsenal. Simmons’ jokes are clever, well written and employ a wonderful level of misdirection. It’s great to see the audience’s brains being sent in one direction and for the punchline to come from another. A few of his gags required explanation and he made a virtue of this in asking people if they were ok with it and then explaining the odd joke in comically slow detail so that everyone got a second laugh from it all. I loved the momentary silence on the water feature joke as it percolated through before he got the big laugh. Simmons had a very enjoyable delivery and it was good to see him doing the odd actions on his jokes to push them further. The callbacks were the icing on what was a very tasty cake. This was a set with a lot of laughter and it’s a shame he lives so far down south as I’d like to see a lot more of him.

Simon Lomas

Every time I see Lomas he has improved and he’s simply fantastic.

From the night:

If Lomas isn’t soon making a good living from doing comedy, then I’ll be amazed. Watching him perform is just sheer joy. Tonight, my mum and dad didn’t really know what to expect from him and so when he came to the stage I spent half my time watching their reaction to him. Lomas opened with just one word and my mum, plus the rest of the room immediately burst out laughing. Looking at the audience during his set, a good proportion of people spent most of their time doubled over with laughter and this was great to see. The delivery was grandiose; slow, deliberate and with a lot of forced pauses for the laughter to subside. The material was offbeat and the reveals unexpected, with every joke getting a laughter break and bare getting near enough two applause breaks, because when the first subsided it began anew and everyone joined in again. This was a tremendous performance and I’ve never seen my parents laugh so much in all of my life.

Honourable Mentions

Brandon Craig, Craig Deeley, Dan Tiernan, Ian Cognito, Liam Jeavons, Mark Maier,

Carnero Lounge, Paul Mutagejja, Gina Overton, Adam Elmi, Ben Briggs and Diane Fitton (MC)

Tonight I was in Derby for the NCF £1 night at the Carnero Lounge. At the moment this is a different sort of night to the Nottingham £1 night, which regularly pulls in over 100 people. It is still building up an audience and so is a bit more intimate. In time the numbers will grow and it should become a good addition to the calendar.

Diane Fitton (MC)

Fitton is quite mild, unthreatening and relaxed, which is fine, but she is also low energy and I think that at the moment this venue works better with a high energy MC, who can inject atmosphere into the room. It’s a fair sized area with a high ceiling and uncurtained first floor windows and building energy with a small audience is very hard for a compere who isn’t that lively. Fitton approached the task by mixing a bit of material and audience work, asking where people were from and telling the room a bit about her. I thought that she was brave getting a small self-conscious crowd to all attempt a Mancunian accented sort’d, but it worked out well. Probably the biggest laugh came from a lady sat with her fiancée, who when discussing rings, announced that she liked them small, much to his mortification and everyone else’s amusement. I did enjoy the visual closing gag; I thought this a nice touch. Fitton would have benefited by doing a little bit less at the top, as she did look to overrun and from asking Paul Mutagejja how to pronounce his name as her attempt was definitely original. I felt that Fitton was more amiable than funny, but in fairness this was a small and cold audience.

Paul Mutagejja

Mutagejja was here to run out some new material and he hit the room with a good amount of energy, which made an immediate impact as he pointed out the various oddities of the place. It was nice to see that he had looked Derby up before travelling there and had a couple of specific references to use, instead of just a vague awareness of the city. He may be better off asking an individual if they went anywhere nice during the Summer, instead of asking the entire room if they went on holiday, as I think he will get a definite answer, rather than everyone either not wanting to answer or a load of people shouting out destinations. Of the new material, Germany needed a bit more and the Elvis songs weren’t that strong, but the crotch grabbing could possibly be added to by rather than him grabbing his crotch, Paul going down towards his knee, for a throwaway visual gag. The Dr Who routine was very promising, but the period puns, worked far better as films than songs, but as he was trying them out, I can understand the inclusion of both. This was a good set that the audience went with.

Gina Overton

Overton’s delivery was quite subdued compared to Mutagejja and in front of a small audience in a room where the energy was fast to dissipate this didn’t help her much. If she had been in front of a more up for it crowd then she may well have done better. She opened with a joke about the car park, but the reference point was Starsky and Hutch, which was probably last broadcast before half of the audience had been born – a more up to date programme would have helped. Conspiracy theories looked like it might have promise, but that was a case of blink and she’d moved on. Build a bear was good and the surgery material was nicely unique, although the gas mask reference felt a bit forced and perhaps ‘holding his breath’ might feel more naturalistic. Getting a volunteer on stage to model worked well and I was rather surprised that she didn’t encourage the victim’s friends to quickly take a photo of him. This was an improved performance.

Isa D’Entertainer

We were due to resume after the intermission with Isa, but he failed to show up at all and was not contactable. The first time I was due to see him he was actually in the building, but then vanished before he went on. For something like this to happen once is bad luck, but for it to happen twice it begins to look like carelessness.

Adam Elmi

Elmi, who was due to do a small set was asked if he could do a bit more to help cover the missing act, which he was happy to do. One person’s loss is another’s gain. A lot of this was new material and naturally some was better than others. He made a good start with the dichotomy between how affable someone may look and what is actually going through their minds. There is some mileage in this and he could develop it into a very strong routine, perhaps including some audience work, where he smiles at someone and then announces what he is really thinking. When a comic announces their high status credentials/achievements it can feel like they are laying down a gauntlet and I could see what he was trying to do, but to get the most out of this, he will need to work a bit on the material. A lot of his material would benefit from a tight editing, as the set ups were overly long and the actual feed lines were getting lost amongst the exposition and this weakened the effect of the reveals. However, this was new material, so that isn’t the end of the world. The ten year search line is a definite keeper – I can imagine that being a real banker. Elmi has presence and I can picture him becoming a talented comedian. He’s someone to watch and see where he is in a year or so.

Ben Briggs

Briggs was doing new material and it’s always interesting seeing what he has to offer. Despite the audience not being huge he treated the gig as if it had sold out and gave a headliner performance. He opened with a heavy hitting gag about a biker’s gig and then built from there. The theme of the set was racism and Briggs eased the audience into it by talking about voting, elections and brexit. This worked well to establish both his ability and personality with the audience. A white comedian doing material about race generally goes one of three ways: they either touch on it and then quickly move on, draw the comedy in broad strokes or become preachy and parade their more right on than thou credentials. Briggs managed to avoid coming close to any of those. He was nuanced, got his point across and was very funny, building loads of momentum. He’s obviously put a lot of thought into this and it is an intelligent routine with a lot of laughs. This was a great set and I can see why he’s been booked for a week of three gigs a day in Chicago.

The Rigger – Richard Probert, Matthew Nairn, ‘Dougie’, Eric Rushton, Richard Harris, David McCluskey, Rob Cooper, Mark Pulcella, Haseeb Malik, Dan Tiernan and Richard Massara (bonus ten spot)

Last night I was at the Rigger in Newcastle under Lyme for the Funhouse gong show. Unusually this was one where there hadn’t been that many applicants and the line up had finished up being solely male and conventional in approach apart from one character act. This couldn’t be helped, but it is nice to see both more of a gender balance and a wider spectrum in styles. On the other hand, we were lucky in having Richard Massara present to do a bonus ten spot, which not only gave him an opportunity to be seen by Spiky Mike, but which showed the audience just how good comedy can be. Mike had fun compering, discovering a chap who was a ‘dedicated’ customer service adviser and upon not being sure he’d heard someone’s name right, went with ‘Pork?’ as a suggestion as to what he’d just misheard, which naturally got a big laugh.

Richard Massara

When having an experienced act doing an open ten at a talent show, it’s tricky to know where to put them in the line up. Previously I’ve seen them at the top of the night and at the end prior to the vote off and both slots have their issues. Going on first, they make it hard for the entrants to follow and give the audience unrealistic expectations of contestants perhaps only ten gigs in. If at the end, it gets in the way of the vote. So I think Mike chose well in having Massara close the middle section. I’ve placed his review out of sequence simply to keep it separate to the gong show proper.

I saw Massara last month in Oakham where his skills as MC had made that gig a success and so discovering that he was performing was a bonus. Last night he gave the gong show contestants a lesson in how to build a set, deliver it and garner laughter and applause. Massara began well with a joke referencing his voice which was tangible to everyone and then he went from there into a set that was very well thought out. The bee was good, but much improved by the topper, the gift card was great and his quizzical expression when trying to fathom out the logic added a lot to what he was saying. The German section had promise, even if the audience weren’t fully onboard with it and as before, the vaping material was very strong. Massara did say ‘don’t get me wrong’ a few times, not enough to be considered a tic, but perhaps just something to be aware of in a longer set. This was a very good performance from someone whom I think I’ll be seeing a lot more of on the circuit.

Richard Probert

Probert in blazer and lively trousers doesn’t half look like a shorter version of Eric Morecambe. He also has the basis for a set, with some nice bits of material and a good turn of phrase. However, opening really isn’t the best spot on the bill for him. Probert suffers from a lack of energy in his delivery and doing material about anal so soon in a night is a risky move. Another aspect is that his material could do with editing down. Probert is a story teller and whilst Wrigglesworth can stretch out what he is saying with various similes and repetitions, he doesn’t have to worry about having to be punchy enough to pass an upcoming vote. Probert didn’t do badly, but he has the ability to do better. He took coming off late on in his set with good grace and gave the audience a very nice bow before leaving the stage.

Matthew Nairn

Nairn made a confident start with a visual gag and then then went into some good material about a night out with Scottish relatives. This went down well, helped by his ability to do a good Scottish accent. The routine about insults was a game of two halves, with the southern one being more of a feed line for the northern one, rather than being that funny in itself – something that could perhaps be worked on. Unfortunately at the four minute mark, Nairn had a bit of a stumble and that was enough to end his night.

Dougie

Next it was James Harkness as Dougie, a character act who is a bit hopeless in life. Previously when I saw Dougie, I wasn’t convinced that the room realised he was a character act at first, but tonight it was more obvious from the off. There was a lot of thought gone into making this a credible performance, Harkness had got the look right, down at heel, cap pulled low and a mumbling, stumbling delivery, with a lot of scripted spoken blind alleys. However, the amount of time spent in establishing and maintaining the character and creating comedic tension ate into the space available for saying anything funny and Dougie had probably the smallest number of jokes of any of the acts. Luckily these jokes were all of a very good calibre and were worth waiting for. Dougie made it through to the final easily enough and over five minutes this was entertaining, but I’m not sure that without something more there is ten minutes in this.

Eric Rushton

Rushton has had a good year so far and it was always going to be interesting to see what he did tonight. He came on stage with a tiger under his arm, dropped him next to the mic stand and commenced his set. This was nicely offbeat and tickled me. Rushton stood at the very edge of the big stage and gave the room a set that veered towards anti-comedy. There was a definite air of oddness about Rushton’s performance from the delivery (calling the audience motherfuckers) down to the scattergun approach to topics. This went down pretty well with the room and he made the final, where an impending last bus prompted a suicide run for the final minute.

Richard Harris

We resumed after the intermission with Harris, notes in hand, who was on his third gig. He opened as a high status act, informing the room that if this didn’t work and wasn’t funny that this would be their fault. In a more established act this can be a good start, but Harris didn’t have that kind of swagger and was perhaps dressed too casually to immediately convince the audience that it would be their fault, either. The joke about childline was good and heroin showed promise, but beyond that this was very much a work in progress. Harris wasn’t helped by holding the microphone at bellybutton level until Mike shouted out to hold it higher. This wasn’t a bad third attempt, though.

David McCluskey

After a number of low energy acts, it was a breath of fresh air to have the lively fast moving McCluskey on stage. He began with three jokes in short order and built up a good head of steam from there. His take on sex face was fun as was his approach to what could be described as a like to do list. However, despite what he was actually saying being original and funny, I felt that the topics he chose to work with were pretty much common ground and with different, less travelled areas, he would be much stronger. This was still a good set and he looked like a plausible finalist from the off. Despite mistiming his final minute and being cut off mid joke, McCluskey was well supported in the vote off.

Rob Cooper

Cooper was very much a mixed bag. He had some clever jokes that kept him on longer than I expected, but a lot of what he had to offer was counterproductive. The disciples was a nice idea, but I think he needed to add something more for the audience to fully get the joke. The drama routine was an unoriginal pull back and reveal, spicy food and sighing were just depressing and one could feel the atmosphere being sucked out of the room. On the other hand, fox hunting got a round of applause – like I said, a mixed bag. What held Cooper back the most, though, was his stage persona. This came over as arrogant and almost resentful of the audience and this made him incredibly difficult to warm to. A strong act with great jokes can pull off this kind of delivery, but when someone with patchy material tries, the results aren’t pretty.

Mark Pulcella

I saw Pulcella at the Maze where the act prior to him had killed the atmosphere and this had effectively ended Pulcella’s set before he had begun it, as there was no coming back. Last night he had a better chance and he made the most of it. He gave the room a fast momentum building set of one-liners and there were some good, improved, gags on offer. Shambolic was great, fake poo deserved more than it received, but Cruise was a bit of a leap too far. Pulcella had a nice touch where he set up a joke with an obvious punchline and got the audience to deliver it – this would be even better if he could do that, but sell the audience a dummy and come out with an obscure, but even better reveal than the obvious one. Pulcella had a great final minute, where he judged the time well and gave the audience five quick gags. This was enough to make him the winner of the show by a clear margin of hands.

Haseeb Malik

Malik was a very enjoyable act. His material was intelligent and well delivered in a crystal clear voice. Enunciating words clearly and without overdoing it is a definite bonus to a comedian, because if you can hear the joke, then you can laugh at it. Obvious enough, but not always achieved by acts. Malik’s take on Isis was very good and went far beyond the standard rucksack/if I bomb here tonight jokes. The film pitch was also strong, even if perhaps there was a tiny bit too much of it to be sustained by the idea. Probably 95% of Malik’s material last night concerned the topics of Asia and Islam; over five minutes this wasn’t bad, but for a longer set, it would perhaps be beneficial to have a broader approach so that it doesn’t become a case of having too much of a good thing. This was a good set that everyone enjoyed and Malik came in second place. I’d like to see more of him, as he has potential. With regular gigging, I can imagine him doing well.

Dan Tiernan

The last time I saw Tiernan he had had a very good night and last night was no different – he had another good night. Tiernan is not a huge chap, but on stage he seems to be about 8′ tall and was probably the only act who didn’t need a microphone to be heard in every corner of the room. He launched into a powerful set, discussing his life and career choices. This was a barnstorming performance that saw him climbing onto speakers and tables and banging his head with an audible twonk on some structural steel framing in the ceiling. Tiernan sprinted into the final, which somewhat surprisingly he didn’t win. I’m going to be very interested in seeing where Tiernan is this time next year.

Admiral Rodney – Mark Maier, Chris Tavner, Simon Lomas and Martin Mor

Tonight I was in Southwell for the Funhouse comedy night. I had brought my aged parents with me to see the show, as there was something rather special about the line up that I wanted them to witness. Living only fifteen minutes away made this all very convenient for all of us. The comedy at the Admiral Rodney occurs in a rectangular room which is fairly large, but not huge and with a big sold out crowd the atmosphere was superb. When Spiky Mike asked who was up for some comedy and received a huge cheer, it was obvious that we were going to be in for a great night. Mike had a lovely time compering, making the most of a couple with a fair age gap on their first date who were fortuitously sat right under a bright light and he had tremendous fun with them before moving on to chat to the second smartest dressed man in the room. This was a gig more or less within walking distance for Mike and he seemed to have an extra spring in his step tonight. It was nice when my Old Man commented to me about how good the MC was, as these are often overlooked when it comes to praise.

Mark Maier

Opening was Mark Maier, whom I had last seen at Jongleurs a while back. He’d had a good night then, despite it being a rowdy crowd, so I was expecting a good performance from him tonight in front of an up for it audience. He began with a callback to Mike’s conversation with the couple on the first date and used it as a way of linking in material. The routines he went with were good, with the various ups and downs of his life nicely chronicled. The standout line was an abbreviation which landed with no end of force. What impressed me the most about Maier was his delivery and the technical excellence of his set. The construction of this was fantastic. He managed to move from topic to topic seamlessly, leaving things hanging before looping back to them later and carrying on, there were callbacks aplenty and a sense of coherency to the whole that was very enjoyable. Maier has a very laid back delivery, appearing relaxed and chilled on stage. When speaking he elongates various syllables on words and where he places this stress imparts a lot of emphasis and makes his meaning very clear. In addition to this, Maier has a gift with accents, which he makes the most of and this added a certain richness to his delivery, bringing the characterisation of people to life. This was a clever set that was very funny.

Chris Tavner

Tavner began strongly with a reference to the smartly dressed man whom Mike had chatted to whilst compering. As the best dressed man in comedy, this made for a nicely visual opening and it was nice to see him get applause for it. The framework of his set concerned Tavner finding his way into adulthood and this gave a nice link for his routines. He did go a bit off piste when talking to an headmistress, but realising the conversation wasn’t going anywhere he managed to disentangle himself skilfully. Tavner isn’t that sweary, but a few fucks appeared in his set and these felt a bit odd, as he wasn’t using them to add emphasis or in an in your face kind of way, but more like a mid sentence slip of the tongue and he could have deleted each one without it making any difference to his set apart from adding an extra 30 seconds or so. This probably doesn’t matter one way or the other, but they just struck me as sounding a bit out of place. Ireland remains a solid banker, with a guaranteed laugh, but tonight I saw a new opera based closing routine and I liked it a lot (especially where he broke the 4th wall). This closing helped Tavner stand out. There is no shortage of white male comedians in their mid 30s; but one’s who can close with a short bit of opera? That is rare and more importantly very memorable. This was a very good performance and Tavner was sharper than when I’ve seen him previously. He was performing in a great room, but that wasn’t the sole reason why he did so well – he has improved since I saw him last and this was the best I’ve seen him.

Simon Lomas

If Lomas isn’t soon making a good living from doing comedy, then I’ll be amazed. Watching him perform is just sheer joy. Tonight, my mum and dad didn’t really know what to expect from him and so when he came to the stage I spent half my time watching their reaction to him. Lomas opened with just one word and my mum, plus the rest of the room immediately burst out laughing. Looking at the audience during his set, a good proportion of people spent most of their time doubled over with laughter and this was great to see. The delivery was grandiose; slow, deliberate and with a lot of forced pauses for the laughter to subside. The material was offbeat and the reveals unexpected, with every joke getting a laughter break and bare getting near enough two applause breaks, because when the first subsided it began anew and everyone joined in again. This was a tremendous performance and I’ve never seen my parents laugh so much in all of my life.

Martin Mor

Fast talking Ulsterman, Mor, had been fully briefed on who was whom in the audience and what had happened so far during the night, so he hit the ground running and never looked back. Mor mixed material with audience work, with the material providing a loose base from which to work and probably 70% of his time was spent working the room. This mix worked extremely well and provided a nice contrast to the other acts on the bill. Mor was easily the most sweary comic of the night, using fuck a lot (never cunt, though), but because he exudes so much warmth and joie de vivre this worked in his favour. Mor charmed the audience and they were more than happy to open up to him regarding various preferences concerning muffs and to go with a new use for a Toblerone that he suggested, which became a pleasing running joke. There was a nice edginess to Mor’s work where one felt that he could take the room in any direction he chose and they’d willingly go there with him. This was a very strong performance.

Canal House – El Baldiniho, Daniel Triscott, Brandon Craig, Katie Mitchell, Jack Topher, Harry Sanders and Rivka Uttley (MC)

Tonight I was in Nottingham for the NCF £1 night. The line up was subject to a lot of changes as acts unavoidably became unavailable. Unfortunately three of the acts that couldn’t make it were headline quality with tons of experience. This was still a good night, but their presence would have helped, as most of the acts on the bill weren’t that experienced. It was nice to see Jem Braithwaite present supporting the night, even if he wasn’t gigging.

Rivka Uttley (MC)

Uttley began by asking people about conspiracy theories and this was wonderfully fresh – I really do appreciate it when comperes do something different to asking people what they do and where they do it. However, I think that she might have been better opening with a joke or a few observations about the room before asking about conspiracies, as it would have eased everyone into the night, because the audience seemed a bit reticent to give her much to work with. At one point, she was asked if she was on tinder and my heart leapt at this, as I know that Uttley has some first class material about online dating. Rather than go with that, there and then, she saved it for the second session, where it went down a treat. Instead, during the opening, she went with a bit of cat based room work which led nicely into her material about Matthew. This helped to settle the room down well. During the second session, Uttley did material about online dating which was great and also orchestrated a nice game of sentencing guidelines play your cards right. This was different and gave everyone something to get involved in. It would be improved with a few more offbeat crimes, as unlikely as the body, instead of the more workaday ones, as they seemed a tad bland. There were also perhaps a few too many of them, but owing to there being less acts on the bill, I suspect she was asked to do a little bit longer on stage. Uttley didn’t have a bad night compering and it’s nice to see her on a bill. I was especially impressed with her having originality.

El Baldiniho

Baldiniho was a very welcome addition to the bill, even if he didn’t stay long due to having to be elsewhere. He does magic, prop gags and puns and there was a lot to like in it. He opened with a what’s your name gag, which got a good laugh despite being an old joke, but from here on I had no fault with his set. Baldiniho moved quickly giving the audience 7-8 minutes of material in 5 and generated loads of momentum. The gags were nicely daft and he sold them extremely well. Baldiniho has a good rapport with audiences. His set was also smooth due to his skill in blending the different styles of comedy. He would have benefitted from a clip on mic, but that’s a minor point. This was a very good set and I’d have liked to have seen more, a lot more.

Daniel Triscott

Triscott did very well the last time I saw him and the material he tries in his facebook posts is a joy to read. I look forwards to him working it into his set. Tonight he was a bit unlucky in going on after El Baldiniho, as he had done a lot of one-liners and short gags and a few acts separating them wouldn’t have hurt him at all. A lot of Triscott’s jokes are good, with some great ones there, too (… lives matter is superb). He has some well thought out lines and given enough stage time I think he could develop nicely. He does have a habit of adding a little comment after jokes that isn’t a topper or a link to the next joke and these don’t really add anything. Without them he would probably build more impetus as he would be getting in more laughs to the minute. Another slight criticism from this evening is about balance. A lot of tonight’s jokes concerned depression and related topics and good as the gags were, a few more uplifting ones would have assisted the overall balance of his set, but this may well sort itself out in a longer set. This was a good performance from Triscott and I’m very interested in seeing where he will be in a year or so – I think he has potential.

Brandon Craig

I’d not come across Craig before and I had absolutely no idea what to expect from him, so seeing him perform came as a lovely surprise. He began well by referencing Uttley’s compering and used the cycling element of it as a link into his material; something he did very smoothly. I’ve not heard many comics doing Uber related stuff, so that was a bonus and he is the first person to do anything about Uber Eats, so that was very refreshing. I thought the twist on playing chicken with an audience member was great, although considering the outcome I was a bit surprised that he didn’t work in a callback to that being why he had been looking so happy cycling through Edinburgh earlier in his set. A lot of Craig’s material was new and he was giving it a run out. I liked the umbrella idea, although perhaps a re-ordering of it with umbrella first and then the why might work better. The unmanned bike was a nice concept, but needed a bit more. However, it’s new material and so that’s all fair enough. Craig is an enthusiastic performer and he giggles a lot which I found really endearing. This all helped him to get the room onboard and to keep them there with him. The audience really liked him and whenever he checked his new material sheet they were more than happy to stay with him. He has such a disarming presence that he could have talked about anything and held the room. This was a cracking set.

Katie Mitchell

Having a bad night doesn’t make someone a bad act. If they cope with it well and hold it all together then it bodes well for the future. Tonight Mitchell had one of those nights were everything seemed to go wrong and she dealt with it admirably. The audience stayed with her and gave her a very supportive round of applause afterwards and well they might, as Mitchell got some good material out and received laughs for it. Mitchell opened with a few lines about her appearance and these are fine, but coming as a job lot it does dilute the impact of them. I can’t help but wonder if using one to open with (electricity) and then using the others as non sequiturs between routines might work better. Also Stonewall is worthy, rather than funny and I’d be tempted to swap it out for something that adds more comedy value, such as a massively cool and OTT Drag Queen name, as that would mean a laugh for each of the reasons. The 18 feet tall line was a nice improvement to the set. Although this didn’t go as well as Mitchell may have hoped, it went better than what she thought at the time and she received laughter and applause.

Jack Topher

Topher made the right decision in trying a new angle with his set and he began by chatting to the audience. This started well and would probably have continued nicely, but he got the order of a joke mixed up and from there on his set became charged with tension as he seemed to be skating on the edge. Topher got applause for how religion started but he made the mistake of commenting too many times on how badly a few things seemed to be going. The first few times he got laughs for this and it worked well, but after that he looked as if he’d convinced himself it was going badly and I think he managed to convince the audience that he wasn’t having his best night. With more experience he will be able to turn this around, as intrinsically there’s nothing wrong with his set. It’s good and he delivers it well. He just needs more experience at recovering from the odd hiccup. I believe that tonight he could have turned it around if he hadn’t dwelt so much on the missed opportunities. I’m glad that he tried something new and this is a gig that he will learn from and emerge stronger.

Harry Sanders

There was a lot riding on Sanders’ performance tonight, as traditionally the closing act is the strongest of the night. I’d never seen Harry do more than ten before, so I was curious as to how he would tackle it. The answer was with a mix of newer and more established material. Sanders likes dark material and sometimes this can alienate some people and enthuse others, but tonight he got the balance right for this audience and they went with it. Derby for the shit town was a good call, although Mansfield might have worked a tiny bit better. The book was nicely visual, but holding it from the bottom is better, as his hand obscured the name at the top. I liked the synagogue line and thought it a nice improvement to his set. I also really enjoyed the Beatles joke, although I think I was the only person who laughed out loud at it. This was a very good set and Sanders did well as closer.

Ashby – Leo Kearse, Matt Stellingwerf, Mark Simmons and Daliso Chaponda

Tonight I was in Ashby for the Funhouse Comedy night. It’s a fair sized room and it is usually pretty full, but tonight it was sold out, with people having to join a waiting list in the hope of bagging a returned ticket. Mike was on good form as compere, mixing a bit of material with room work. The first person he chatted to tried to be funny by claiming ‘comedian’ as their profession and I do wish that audience members would leave the funnies to other people, as there are far more laughs that way. Mike had a lot of fun with Merv, who was doubly unfortunate in arriving late from a self-defence class and the only seat free being close to the stage. In swift order he was on stage demonstrating what he had learnt from the class, which as it was only week two wasn’t a lot yet, but perhaps he’ll demand a rematch with Mike when he is on week twenty two.

Leo Kearse

I’d only seen Kearse once before at Nottingham Jongleurs where he had impressed me; so when I almost bumped into him when hanging up my hat and coat, it came as a nice surprise to see him there. Kearse began strongly with material relating to his name and background and then he built on this with a very powerful set that covered a lot of ground and which never came close to getting bogged down. His material had an internal logic to it that helped it to stay not only consistent to what he had said previously, but which helped the audience to stay with him throughout his set. And the audience most definitely were with him, youngish and old, women and men, all were laughing heartily at what Kearse was saying, especially Judi Stafford, sat 6′ away from me, whose laugh seemed to echo about wonderfully. Kearse has a definite presence, which combined with his speedy delivery gave more impetus to what he was saying. His room work was good, when he put Ken, a distinguished looking elderly chap, on the spot and then ran with his reply was a lot of fun. I did have two small quibbles, neither of which are serious: ‘so I was in…. because it’s going well’ is a bit overused as a line, but as with most of these things, it got a laugh. Kearse also said ‘know what I mean’ three or four times, but I was probably the only person who noticed, so again, far from the end of the world. When I saw Kearse previously he had a magnificent routine about a trip to the Far East and some shenanigans involving a toilet – this routine was fantastic, so when to close he announced he’d been travelling I was fair hoping he was going to close with this. Instead it was a train based routine, which had improved since I saw it before and whilst not as superb as what I was hoping to see, was still a very good closing routine to what had been an excellent set.

Matt Stellingwerf

We resumed after the intermission with Stellingwerf, an import from New Zealand. His opening routine was nicely visual and so easy for everyone to get onboard with. From this he gave the room a few routines of which two stood out above the others. The tale of the New Zealand referendum was good, but I was a bit surprised that he didn’t reference Boaty McBoatface, as the cases are very similar. This was followed by a bit about emblems on flags, but when discussing the Yanks adding a gun to their flag, I did sense the mood drop a bit, which was perhaps understandable. However he pulled it back admirably with his take on the flag of Mozambique. The closing story of a tube trip was great, with air guitar being a lovely line. This was a good set that hung together very well and flowed nicely. Stellingwerf has a lively and positive delivery and this was a fun set.

Mark Simmons

Simmons was a lovely surprise, giving the room a change of pace with his one-liners. It was also nice that he changed into a suit and shirt to perform, which I think beneficial to the audience’s first impression of an act. Oddly Simmons didn’t do his gag that Dave selected for one of their top jokes of the Fringe, good as it is. Despite that being on their list, he had far better jokes in his arsenal. Simmons’ jokes are clever, well written and employ a wonderful level of misdirection. It’s great to see the audience’s brains being sent in one direction and for the punchline to come from another. A few of his gags required explanation and he made a virtue of this in asking people if they were ok with it and then explaining the odd joke in comically slow detail so that everyone got a second laugh from it all. I loved the momentary silence on the water feature joke as it percolated through before he got the big laugh. Simmons had a very enjoyable delivery and it was good to see him doing the odd actions on his jokes to push them further. The callbacks were the icing on what was a very tasty cake. This was a set with a lot of laughter and it’s a shame he lives so far down south as I’d like to see a lot more of him.

Daliso Chaponda

Chaponda is having a great year. Taking third place on Britain’s Got Talent has made an already very bookable act very highly sought after. He began by giving the room a few anecdotes about his time on the show, which helped people who had come because they had seen him on telly acclimatise to the broader thrust of his stage comedy. It was also nice to see a little bit of what occurred behind the scenes and to hear of the personal aftermath for him. The set concerned the themes of race and acceptable phrases. The 1 – 10 section was nicely done and his comments about paratroopers very funny. The mention of Lee Nelson gave the routine a feel of the now and the exorcism is always a dependable banker. However, the joke about American policeman didn’t get as much of a laugh as it deserved. I saw Chaponda perform a couple of months ago and in that time this set has evolved becoming more polished. This was a good closing performance.