So it’s been running for over 2 years and turnout is always up & down but more people coming really doesn’t effect the atmosphere as you’d think. We’ve had rooms of 17 who were up for it and big laughers and we’ve had packed out nights of 50+ where we have turned people away at the door but the ones who got in just sat in silence the whole night waiting for someone else to lead them in laughter. This night however was one where we got all the laughers in yipee! 🙂 Plus it was a very strong line up of comedians this night and 3 of them coming to do the gig for the very first time.
First to arrive was professional comedy magician and long term friend Al Rudge who was headlining the gig but needed time to set up all his tricks and props. Personally I like these kind of people as I do this myself (need to set up props and I arrive early to do so). I’d rather have an act turn up 2 hours early than turn up 2 minutes before they are supposed to go on stage. John as per usual left it until the last moment before setting up the 3 stage lights and we were about to open up the room when we spotted we were missing a table and it’s chairs so had to rush downstairs and grab extras and finally opened the door at 8:55pm leaving till nearly 9:20pm before actually starting the gig. The only thing I didn’t like about this night, really have to got to start this gig on time (8:45pm).
On compering duties tonight was Alex Hylton who is 18 months or so into his comedy career but already a pretty solid turn who’ve I’ve gigged with a lot (and also spend a lot of time with in Edinburgh). Already he has a pretty solid 10 and great stage command but was the first time I’d booked and seen him compere a whole evening (he did our Edinburgh show one night) and he was more than up to challenge tonight. Slow burning delivery with a deep voice he set the tone well and got them laughing nicely from the off but he did material and didn’t really banter though which was perfect for tonight but not every gig works that way. Danny Davies took the opening spot who is an act who is still new and has done less than 100 gigs but I’ve seen a few times this year and although he hasn’t really changed the material itself (just tweaked & added stuff on) he gets better & better each time with so much confidence and he did unbelievably well for an opening act here. His material gets rather blue throughout and I thought this could backfire but they loved it all. His material still needs some more editing to really hammer it home but I would defiantly book again for a 10 spot on a pro bill. Wayne Beese was next up who I booked very early on in his comedy career and I saw the potential way back when he saved a gig which was all new acts. Knew then this guy had a lot potential and he really is delivering on it now. His comedy persona (deadpan & miserable) is bang on perfect and he’s really edited his material well now, got rid of the waffle, kept the bits that work and it’s a good flowing narrative with solid punch lines. His championship manager story really pays off if you just go with it. He’s rather like Dave Tomlinson though (imo) in that it does require the audiences complete attention to work so wouldn’t work in really rowdy rooms but here he got the laughs he deserved, another year or so and he’ll be ready for the paid 15’s (and lower end opening 20s)
After the first break (which as always was 5 minutes longer than it should have been) Alex Hylton showed off more of his compering skills he admits himself and so will I he’s hardly setting the comedy world alight with comic originally but has all the skills needed to do the compering well. The third slot/first act in the middle is a space we now reserve for the more wildcard acts and tonight after many years John let me book Robert Kemp who had a great gig. He’s very much a comedians comedian and I can’t keep my eyes off the audiences reaction to him ever. The other comedians are always belly laughing but the audience were very much being split clean down the middle with his amazingly good ad-libs about the rooms decor followed by his ingenious brand of meta comedy with bursts of poetry and material about perspective, the lost prophets and the Nazi’s. I always request he does his zombie comedy night bit and he did it again tonight but I can see he really hates doing it. It really works Rob so why drop it? Like I say though room divider they either had tears coming down their faces or they looked like rabbits trapped in headlights and from that we went one end of the comedy spectrum to another. We went from a niche comedy genius straight into a master popularist comedian with Mike Crump who is put simply born natural entertainer who oozes comedy talent & appeal. Virtually nothing is out of place for him as an act because you can put at any gig in any room at any point of the night and he’ll have a good gig. Here he had them in the palm of his hand from the word go and really doesn’t need much material as it’s mostly about interaction with the crowd. He does needs to write some material as he’s not got that to fall back on yet but should just carry on doing what he’s doing because if he’s not on TV doing stand up in 5 years time he’ll still be on it making himself a career as some kind of presenter, put simply book him.
Final break and time was pressing on and Alex read the room correctly, no material needed just tell when the next gig is and bring on the headliner. Al Rudge who headlined the show with a solid 25 minute set of comedy magic ‘literally’ he’ll likely be sick of the comparison with Tommy Cooper but hard to compare him to anyone else. He clearly knows his magic and his way round a gag and combines that to perfection. Tonight it was a combination of the classics with some new stuff thrown in and some old stuff reworked into the new for good effect. It’s never going to be an act for everyone ever but a solid turn to end the night in style. His signature ‘nail in the face’ always makes people in the audience swirm too and it’s fun to watch that. He’s a friend and we go right back to the early days of gigging but one small criticism of his performance here was some of the delivery very early on was too rushed and he needed to slow down. If I didn’t already know the routine I wouldn’t have been able to understand what he was saying but he caught onto it and slowed it back after 10 minutes or so.
After 2 years we finally increase the ticket and door price (if only by a pound) so we can at least begin to try and get some slightly higher paid headliners booked for this gig. We are beginning with Tony Cowards next month (the act John’s wanted me to book more than anyone else ever) and also dropping the 4x 10 spots in favour of low paid opening 20’s (which I’m doing next month to cut costs & due to a few people wanting to see my act again anyway) and 2 middle 10’s. Let’s hope all this doesn’t backfire.