This gig had come about in a some what unusual way but the landlord had contacted me about running a comedy night in Market Drayton a small town in North Shropshire about 18 miles from where I live. So went to see the venue and meet him. The pub was in the middle of the town and he had recently taken the place over but he insisted on it being on a Saturday night which I’ve always been against but it was a separate room he had round the back of the pub so decided it was worth a try. Budget really wasn’t much and he wanted it free entry but if proved a hit it was worth having but I decided against a low paid closer and to I’d just get the best ‘open’ 10 spots I could find who were free that night and just pay someone for light mc work. I started out with 11 acts, but ended up with 9 on the night. Upon arrival found something amazing the landlord had done his job right! He’d got posters up in the shops around the town; he had it on signs outside the pub and had spread the word virally. He’d also set up the PA and seats out in the room perfectly, I really couldn’t fault a single thing, even the lighting was right all I had to do was set up the banners and plug my net book into the system, set the camera up and we were ready to go. All we needed now was the acts and an audience. The acts all arrived one by one and eventually the first set of punters trickled in and then more of them, and more and more to the point we had run out of room and more chairs had to be brought in from the front bar and then the ones from outside as well! I mean it wasn’t all perfect as you’d expect the hassle of those people who wouldn’t sit at the front and we had people standing at the sides but it didn’t matter we had a rammed room of punters.
Billy Maguire was guest compere and this audience were there for a laugh and REALLY didn’t need much warming up he got them laughing pretty much off the bat and they understood the rules and what was expected of them at comedy. They wanted jokes and filth that was clear from the off so opening act Dave Pollard fitted the mood nicely. I’m not going write out in detail what each act does too much in this review but seriously has he improved so much in the few years since he started; now a teknicolour snoof regular I will never turn him down for gigs. At this point we lost a couple of guys sat near the back, maybe they had just come in killing time until their table for dinner was ready or before whatever else they had planned or maybe live comedy really wasn’t for them who knows (I’d guess the lata). Dave Tomlinson was next very with slow burning material which requires the audiences attention to work, good act and they liked the fifth when he drop the punch lines but they wanted punch lines quicker and faster. As expected about 6 o r 7people now decided for themselves this was time for a break but the rest of them were treated the bizarre and original comic creation that is Mystic Mike. Apparently this act can go either way but I’ve never seen him have a bad gig yet, he plays the part of a really bad physic if you’ve not seen it; tonight a few gags did miss but overall they bought into the concept and he had a great gig.
Now comes the panic as I think were going to loose people in the first break, it may have been one or two but not of them came back and Billy didn’t need to do much before we welcomed the first act of the section to the stage. Martin Hubburn who I have said before has come on in leaps and bounds recently and it wasn’t his best gig I’ve seen him have but he still had a pretty good one. Just saying the words “thieving gypos” caused a huge cheer, you could see this crowd’s level pretty easily. The lovely Jane Huxley was next who has always gone down really well at both The Crown & The Elephant & Castle, but I had her at my new Clun gig last week and it was much the same there as it was here tonight. She’s a great sweet likable story teller who’s great with those quieter more laid back lower energy audiences (I type that I always struggle bomb with) but just not one for the ‘never been to a live comedy gig before’ audiences. I love her stuff but they wanted jokes and filth tonight. Once again 6 or 7 people decided they were going to take their break now just as it was my turn. Roger Swift; now I can’t change the gags or the order of the gags but I can assess a room and adapt its pace pretty flawlessly now. It’s not big headed to say with an audience who’ve never been to comedy before then my act always goes down well (providing I’m not opening) as it takes them by surprise. Had the guys at the back of the room in tears so another great gig in the bag for me. Yippee.
Second and final break and as expected we lost about 20% of the audience but the ones who were left were then treated to BamBam Shaikh who put simply stole the show (well him and me) won’t go into details of what he does I’m sure those reading this will already know but he was exactly the right sort of act for this audience will be having him back again at the gig for sure. Ste Jones had a hard time following that and naturally audience were a bit comedy’ed out by this point anyway (less acts, format change next time but will come to that in a moment) one liners with no frills, not all gold but has his voice and delivery style are already in the can, just needs to write more jokes and do a bit of editing, audience tried by this point but still had a good gig. Finally James Hatley who I put last because he cannot keep to 10 minutes. When on form he’s one of those marmite comedians who can go either way or split a room clean down the middle tonight he was drunk and clearly hadn’t gigged in a while so slurred his material at the start but won it back with an ab-lib about the sign on the wall telling people not to shit on the pool table. When on form he’s belly laugh comedy genius (imo) but he was too all over the place to start with but had gotten back to grip by the end of his set (cat beard/flame thrower elvis) again though audience were also tried and comedy’ed out at the point.
Overall this was another huge success and landlord has ordered the gig monthly here on in. It’s a small town and nothing else is going on and it’s a separate room so it being on a Saturday is going to be better for getting a audience and full room turnout each time. However getting certain acts who are good enough to now be doing the weekend clubs coupled with Saturday being the day a lot of non-pro acts want to spend with family etc means it’s going to be harder to get stronger acts to do this one with ease, it’s a catch 22 situation for sure but landlord did agree to increase the very small budget a tiny bit for the future ones meaning I’m going to change it to 4/5 open 10’s and a low paid 15-20 minute closer (crown inn stays as the factory floor open mic night). Although I said I wouldn’t ever trying expanding the smoof empire again (and I’ve ended up dong exactly that) and said I’d never have a go a compering again either…….but given how this room is and what it’s clearly going to be like each time. I think I night now be able to get with compering this myself (SHOCK HORROR!) no “what do you do then” or “is this your wife” is ever going to be needed with this crowd just some intro music 2-3 minutes of puns at the top of the night to make em laugh, then fire though the acts (just a few more non-prop one liners in-between some of the acts) and I’m laughing. I think with this crowd I’ll be able to get away with it …he says until after next month when he changes his mind again!
Hopefully yet another monthly hit gig on my hand…ALTHO always got to remember the new inn, Newport where we filled it for three months then a month later 6 people, the 3 people then the audience never showed up at all again….. Always got to be a pessimist ain’t I ;p