Monthly Archives: February 2015

25/02/15: The White Horse Inn

This gig had been several months in the making and to cut the back story as short as possible, whilst John was posting one of our regular comedy nights on facebook a friend of his (a landlord of a pub in Clun) spotted the post and asked him how he went about running such a night as he’d always wanted to try one out and thus put him in contact with me. I went out to meet Jack and see his pub in late November last year and agreed a start date and budget (far more than I had ever been given to run a gig before). It was a one roomed venue but oddly shaped so it broke off into different parts. So with this mind I blindly went ahead and lined up a complete night of comedians that were all to my own personal taste. No I didn’t do that because that would be stupid! thought about all the possible ways the gig could go, thought about what sort of audience it would be and decided to go for the best mix possible. It was to be Dave Dinsdale compering, Jon Wagstaffe as opening 20, Jane Huxley and myself as the middle 10’s and as it was mid-week and he was able to carpool with Dave I was able to book Andy White to headline (his Teknicolour Smoof debut!)

On the day before the gig John decided to have a night off and come along with me as a punter and watch the gig. Sadly just before we are planning to set off Wagstaffe had his car die on him so couldn’t make it, but Jon Pearson was able to fill in for him at the possible moment (what a life saver). Upon our arrival at the venue it was rammed, rammed with people out having an evening meal that is, no-one seemed to be there to see comedy. Jack wanted to set us up right in the main bar area (where a group of people were having a meal at the time) but John managed to convince him to put us down the long far end of the pub where the pool table usually is. Moved the pool table to one side made a make shift ”stage” out of two pieces of wood and brought in all the tables and chairs we could from the rest of the pub to make it into a makeshift ‘comedy club’. I had been told a PA would be provided for us but this hadn’t happened! fortunately I had had the foresight to bring my smoof box of bits with me so had a microphone and I also now keep a small guitar amp in the car at all times now just in case and this is what we had to use tonight. It was far from perfect but did the job well enough for this small room.

We waited, then we waited and waited and waited and waited and no audience showed up by 8:50pm still no audience, when Dinsdale started his usual ‘pre-comere’ compering material thing and suddenly a gang on 5 blokes came in and sat down (all-be-it as far away as they could get from the ‘stage’) with yet more onlookers stulking around at the bar watching from a far we started the night. Dave Dinsdale is a professional standard compere who would be professional if we wanted to be, but happy doing it as a hobby. Really I don’t have to explain what it is he does I’m sure we all know and he handled it as professionally as he could given the situation. Naturally the ”audience” we had at this point only gave us half of their attention trying to pull people away from their smart phone screens in any comedy club is an ever ongoing battle. Jon Pearson opened and given he’d recently played to about 300 people at the Leicester comedy festival performing to 5 punters (not counting the acts, john and jack the landlord) must have been a major comedown for him, but soon as he tried to material and reach to punch lines battered by a drunk heckler (the village drug dealer it seemed) this was where he was at his finest, ad-libbing away meant he didn’t need to do much material to fill his first 10 minutes but handled it like a true comedy professional, and was a fine opening 20.

After the first break we hadn’t gained any extra punters in the seating area BUT yet more ‘stulkers’ gathering at the back and dinsdale doing what dinsdale does best tried to inject life into the room with his higher/lower game which had some effect but really it was John and the other comedians leading the way with it. Jane Huxley was the first middle 10 here and she showed a lot of skill in dealing yet again with our local village drug dealer friend by taking him down pretty well for someone still very new to the comedy scene, when she went into her material she did ok, nothing wrong with her act or the material itself in any way but this lot weren’t rowdy per say but still had short attention spans so any more story teller based act would have had something of a struggle in this environment, but she did very well against what was facing her. Roger Swift was next who you will have heard of, the loud mad guy who throws dildos and toys around the stage? let’s just say it was exactly the right sort of act for the environment at the time as it blasted them and forced them into submission. I’d rank it a 7/10 from my point of view. Some misses (7 or 8) but when your doing 50 of them in 10 minutes, that’s still a good hit rate. I pulled more people in from the bar too, who wanted to see what this chaos was about.

Final section of the show and NOT MY WORDS A MERE QUOTE I HAVE NOW CUT & PASTED IN ‘Andy White was concerned about having to “Follow Roger Swift after he had stormed it.” ‘ Dinsdale shouted to the room at large that a professional comedian was about to perform for them and it worked in getting the sat down gang of blokes to move forward (finally) and yet more people to come and stulk in the standing area at the back as the headline act took to the stage. Andy White headlined and put simply (sorry for a hack reviewer type line now) tore the roof off for a solid 30 minutes and 20+ minutes of that was actual material too as we only spend about 7-8 minutes of it dealing the drug dealer who started heckling random points that had no relevance to the material andy was doing at the time. I don’t like to spoil or write out bits of acts actual material in these reviews ever but on a personal note his bit on the racist joke he once received from a mancunian which he then transitions into a piece on Nelson Mandela breaking out of prison is the highlight of his set. Also him explaining who Jimmy Saville was to the young-uns was magic. Put simply a professional comedian and rightly so and worth every penny what he got paid (and more) if you run pro night gigs he is a must book act and in terms of the standard, leaps and bounds above any of us mortals.

In summary it was a slow burner but we got there and it was a surprise overall success, Landlord loved it and gave me a verbal contract to run it monthly at least until June, so have a paid act gig for at least a few months with this one. It’s still going to take a while to build up and iron out all the bugs with it but think I’ve hopefully got another hit on my hands with this. I can already foresee though exactly the kind of acts that’ll work at this one and the ones that sadly won’t at this early stages so will have to be selective over who I book over the coming 3-4 months…..

Clun it’s a village that out in the middle of nowhere (literally) so …. well it’s a work in progress like anything else. Clun comedy club, last Wednesday of the month starts here though.


The elephant & castle: 30/01/15

Well the ”between xmas and new year” show was a total sell out and we were back with the first show of the new year and once again we filled the room out with 30+ advanced tickets sold and yet more came to pay on the door. Most of the regulars were in along with some new faces and this is how it went down. Billy Maguire had originally been booked to compere on boxing day but we ended up shifting the day of that gig and thus he was rebooked for this night with my blessing. I’ve tried my hardest to not stress myself over things like I once did at this gig and I’m getting there manage to stay much much cooler the whole time but as per usual late letting the punters in, late start (but only about 10 minutes or so tonight). It looked like it might be a cold night in terms of atmosphere at very first but was proved wrong about this after a few minutes as Billy did no banter and went straight into material but that was right for the room because he started to get the laughs early on, and hit the track running he made them laugh and wasted no time in getting the first act on after about 6 minutes or so. Paul Nightingale one of the newer acts whose been putting the leg work in and crafting his act. I’ve seen him when he’s been very confident and slick when doing really small rooms and open mic gigs but he had a packed room tonight and he was on first so this nerves obviously showed but he soon eased himself into it nicely. Nice material, very likable persona and pretty good delivery but as an act it’s just not as tight as it needs to be yet but more gigging will fix that. I wouldn’t book as a opener but I would recommend him for open mic and middle 10’s to everyone. I book acts for my open mic gig in Oakengates first then re-book ones who are ‘ready’ and right for it to do spots at this one. Martin Huburn came to oakengates last year and confess got the cross afterwards but came back to do it again in a few weeks ago and showed vast improvement over last time and got the tick this time and due to a previously book act dropping due to getting paid work a few days before, Martin jumped forward and made his debut at this tonight and was once again really on form. Very likable persona on stage with well timed and paced punch lines although his material tends to get very blue the more he goes on, if you’ve not heard his ‘love honey’ routine yet than you should really book him to hear it and the crowd warmed to it pretty fast as well (the newbie’s in the crowd had all had their seals broken now).

First up in the second section was Andrew Nightingale who said it was first gig (save co-compering at his own venues) in nearly 6 months although it didn’t really show that much as he really got into his swing and the crowd now well lubbed and clearly well up for a laugh, though he hasn’t really changed his material since I first saw him but his confidence, delivery and sheer likeability on stage has come on in leaps and bounds and had a great gig here with the crowd getting ahead on his call-back punch line at the very end of his set. Next was Theresa Farlow who became the first ever non-headlining act John had to trust my judgement on (as she did the oakengates gig on the only night he was away last year) and tonight she put simply was the ‘show stealer’. Although bit of a cold start but she very quickly got into her stride because she flawlessly managed to incorporate some of her material into some banter with a married couple sat close to the front and this is what brought the house down and totally won them all over big time and proved to be the literally perfect act for that room at that moment, if all goes to plan with my 2 new upcoming gigs shall be booking her for a paid 10 at those two no question and if you’ve not booked her for your gig yet, do it now.

Closing the gig tonight was Matthew Fong who recently went full time with the comedy. I had seen him at a gig in Blackpool last year and he then asked me for a spot so knew he’d be the perfect sort of act to close this gig and I was proven very right about that. Very professional, very likeable and he has a very tight, very slick and strong 25 minutes of material that’s clearly very adaptable to most rooms. Some great build ups and nice call backs. I would recommend him to others for opening 20’s.

Another great and successful night and they were lovely crowd who were totally up for a night of laughs and though he now have a bunch of regulars coming every time, still not enough repeat trade yet so once again hope the new ones come back next month because ‘word from the regulars at the bar is the last 3 nights have been the strongest lines up they’ve ever seen ”gone up 2 levels not one in terms of the quality”