Tonight I was at the Lyric Rooms in Ashby for the Funhouse Comedy night. This was a sold out show, which was lovely to see. Mike opened his compering with much waving of his crutches and addressing how he came to have a broken ankle, which went down well with everyone. In a nice touch some of the acts shook his crutch instead of his hand before taking to the stage. Owing to him being familiar with so many people in the audience, it was tricky for Mike to find someone whom he hadn’t spoken to before, but he found a plasterer and had some fun with him before bringing our opening act onto the stage.
The last time I had seen Awsum in Ashby he had given the room a tiptop time by bringing ‘Fake Ray’ onto the stage. This was a very much of the moment event and it brought the house down. I was hoping that ‘Fake Ray’ would have been in the audience for another duet, but sadly it was not to be. Jonny did spot a Harry Kane lookalike and had a quick chat with him before beginning with his opening song. This was a great little number that eased everyone into getting involved with the singing. There were some great comedy songs in this set, with the extra work song and the one about his son both being very funny. Sexy noises was a real crowd pleaser, though, and this is the one that I think everyone will have in their head tomorrow morning. This was a high energy and lively opening to the show from a very strong act.
Beaton, as a new act to this gig, had created a good impression before going on stage by asking pertinent questions about the venue and the audience. This was a nicely professional touch, as it really jars when an act mispronounces a town name, or asks something that everyone knows the answer to because the compere has already spoken about it. Beaton began her set well, too, by making a joke out of shaking Mike by the crutch when she got onto the stage. From here she carried on the good work, delivering her material in a relaxed manner, with one arm resting on the mic stand. Cally was quietly spoken, but this wasn’t any kind of drawback, as the material flowed well and was strong enough to do the heavy lifting and it wasn’t any surprise that she picked up consistent laughs, getting applause for lie in and a few other reveals. The asides were a nice bonus. I thought that she was more concise than when I saw her previously, but I could be wrong. Either way, Beaton did very well and I can see her progressing.
Ryan opened by referencing the fact that he was the second ginger act of the night and this led nicely into material on being ginger. McDonnell has a Northern Irish accent that is hard to miss and he was smart enough to not only have a couple of powerful bits of material on it (doddle being really good), but he was even more astute in moving onto other areas and not dwelling on the troubles. I felt that the energy levels dropped a couple of times during the set, but only momentarily. I was particularly impressed with the line about the greatest fear and thought that McDonnell skirted along the edge of an applause break for that. The ginger bum hair was vividly described and was another cracking line. Acapulco was a very good story that everyone was invested in. This was an enjoyable set that was delivered with confidence.
Headlining was one of my favourite acts, Andrew Bird. He’s a prolific writer of new material and he has an uncanny ability to bring a routine to a crescendo and to then slide in a topper that ramps the mirth up to yet another level. His writing is amazingly strong, with no end of surprises and little twists to the stories that keep the laughter going. The delivery is also great, with very slight pauses to let the audience keep up and Andrew acting out what he is saying. Tonight he got off to a bit of a false start when mid joke one chap, late back from the bar and bent over with his head tucked into his shoulders to make him invisible, dashed across the corner of the stage to take his seat. Bird paused in what he was doing and much to everyone’s delight and without any malice, he made this trespasser to the stage his topic for the next couple of minutes. The material was great, with every routine a winner. My favourite, out of a cracking field, would be the Millwall supporter. This is a routine that I would happily hear Bird do at every gig. This was a splendiferous performance.