Tonight I was in North Wingfield at The Shinnon for the FaF Comedy night. This is a show that always sells out and it’s easy to see why. The room will hold about 75 people, but with the low ceiling and acoustics it generates an atmosphere far larger than one would expect. This was a bit of an unusual bill in some ways, because apart from Bayes as MC all of the acts were either slightly unusual or at the least different to the usual of a comic standing there telling jokes. It was a fine tribute to the spirit of this audience that it all worked out so well.
Jim Bayes (MC)
I missed part of the first section of Bayes’ work, which was very unfortunate, because what I did see was very good. He found a few prominent people to chat to, whom he’d return to every so often and this worked very well as he gently teased them. Bayes has a big welcoming smile and definitely has a lot of likeability, which combined with a good level of wit gave the net result of the room being ready very quickly. Bayes was also very disciplined. He explained the format, did the rules and didn’t spend that much time on stage that the show became all about him.
Taylor is an interesting act, playing it with a very memorable comedy persona that is almost on the level of a character act. With his lively jumper, nervous laugh, faux nerves and occasional commentary on his own jokes he stands out for his oddness. A lot of his set is delivered sat down, whilst he plays his keyboard and this can make it hard to see him, but as most of the fun is in listening to him this isn’t a huge issue. There were some very strong lines in this set, such as tomato and transvestite and it was nice to see him get the local shit town correct. I was less impressed with the inclusion of Jeremy Kyle’s waiting room as a line, but he did rescue that overused reference with a nice twist to it. There were a lot of jokes here that were offbeat and it was nice to be surprised with the direction he took them in. About 60% of the set was jokes and the remaining 40% short songs, almost ditties that he’d accompany with his keyboard work. This helped to keep his set fresh and it was one that the room certainly went with.
Jack Kirwan and Andy McBurney
There aren’t many double acts gigging on the circuit – Raymond and Timpkins, The Monks and the Two Syds are the only other ones who spring readily to mind. Originally I thought that Kirwan and McBurney were going to be reprising Padding and Bantz, which they performed a bespoke version of at the Midlands Comedy Awards last year (a definite highlight of that night), but instead it was to be as themselves, with a sketch to close on. This sounded pretty good to me and judging by the audience’s laughter, it came over pretty well to the rest of the room, too. Most of the double acts that have been on TV have relied on two very different performers, one tall, the other short or fat, or one the funny man and the other the straight man, feeding lines to the funny man. These two are more equally matched, with both being similar in build and also both getting an equal share of the best lines. Where they both differ is in accents, Kirwan has a Black Country accent and McBurney a surprisingly soft Scottish accent for a man born in Glasgow. This difference in accents added an extra emphasis to their delivery, especially when they were taking the piss out of each other. There is also a great chemistry between the two. They are relaxed together on stage and trust each other to be funny which gave their set a nice flow as there was no awkwardness in the delivery; it wasn’t stilted in any way. I’m quite surprised that they haven’t known each other longer than four years. The material itself was quite new, occasionally a bit surreal and in some places a bit raw, but they had more than enough presence for this not to make any real difference to the night. There was a nice applause break for McBurney demonstrating to Kirwan how to chat to the audience and there were some solid lines in here. Gogglebox was a very clever line that even though it got a big laugh arguably deserved more. I was impressed by the looks of disbelief they could both utilise, such as McBurney’s look of disbelief at Kirwan’s singing. The sketch that they closed on had the odd moment where the energy dropped, but it was good fun and a nice way to end a set that everyone enjoyed.
Mace had a good night, but I think if he’d gone on much later the room would have reached its tipping point. He began well with a bit of surreal room work and continued with offbeat material throughout his set. There were a couple of occasions where the audience got jokes at their own pace, such as the Top 10, but generally everyone was there with him. Mace is a man who dresses up to look funny or at the least unusual, with a checked suit and a sheriffs badge. He never referred to this badge the once, which to me just added to how amusing its presence on his suit was. Mace’s delivery is very animated and he made full use of all of the stage as he alternatively sang, danced and acted out parts of his show. His closing routine was a fitting finale to what had been a very nice night.