26/01/16: The Dog In The Lane

This was a brand new venue that is out the middle of nowhere on a road leading out of Shrewsbury that had been many months in the making because I first went and spoke to them in early October last year but they wanted to start the night in January give it plenty of time to be promoted. They also wanted it to be free (which I’m always against) but went and saw the venue and meet the landlord & landlady Colin & Sue. They were owners (it wasn’t a managed pub or a chain) and they had been running the pub for over 10 years and these are the kind of venues where comedy nights sometimes prove to work as no ‘management’ who get paid regardless. So with a date for the first night sorted I decided to not book a ‘headliner’ but instead a decent compere and vet 6x solid 10 spots …well I’m a solid 10 spot so could do a turn myself and vetted 5 others and I think I made the right choices from those who applied but as the time went on I added a 7th who we then lost again and went back down to 6x but that proved to be the perfect number on the night itself.

Me and John had visited the pub for a drink on the way back from a car crash (one off) gig I ran in wem last November and even back then he had the posters up so we knew it was off to a good start with this one. On the night itself we had a phone call on route from compere and head driver Dave Dinsdale who was having difficultly getting hold of Dave Pollard at home but this was soon resolved. Arriving at the venue Colin & Sue had already turned all the chairs and tables the right way round allowing us to just step up the PA and lighting rig. However the way the pub is it means the ‘comedy area’ and the ‘stage’ is right in front of the toilets, so they have to open up some secondary toilets at the other end of the of the pub for people to use and this didn’t prove a problem as I thought it might at first. However yet another issue I didn’t foresee is that they wanted us to rig my PA though the pubs in house speaker system allowing people all throughout the whole pub to hear the show. I principle a good idea however we realised this would make people all sit in the back half of the pub not in the comedy area itself and refuse to come forward which as you expected they all did but we had enough come forward and throughout the night more came forward. The audience was about 25-30 who had come in for the comedy. Still some who laughed but sat and watched it from the bar the whole night. From here on in I’m not really going to talk about the comedians routines and what I think about them (I think 4 of them are solid turns with good polished sets) it’s much more how they were received by the audience on the night.

Dave Dinsdale was the right man for the compere job as he started before the show started (if you’ve seen him you know what he does) he pre-comperes before he comperes and it showed the audience weren’t rowdy nor were they talkers etc they were well behaved (average age 60) but to begin with they weren’t really laughter’s very much and it took a lot of easing into it. Thomas Rackham had the hardest job of being the first ever act on the first ever night and I think overall I made the right choice with him. His set is very laid back, confident and slick, material still needs some editing but he has punch lines in his material, they were so polite and reserved at this point I was beginning to worry but he did his job with no complaints and enjoyed himself. Andrew Nightingale came next who again has a good laid back approach with nice story telling with punch lines in all the right places although he does get rather blue with some of stories and some of the punters got a little uncomfortable it seems. It’s all in context of course but punters will be punters and hear the words they want to hear, no complaints again he did his job and laughs were beginning to pick up slowly now.

After first interval we lost one table to the back of the room but others moved forward in their place. Dinsdale put his foot on the gas more by doing the higher lower game which injected some much needed life into the room and got them laughing. Danny Beet who I had booked as a token ‘new’ act, have one newer act on to balance the night out and I let it be him. I’ve seen him get mixed results at various gigs already and his delivery, timing or stage presence isn’t very good at all to be honest but he did tell jokes and that’s the first step in this, just saying ‘remember this’ only works if your peter kay and rambling stories without any payoff only works if your Paul Foot. Anyway Danny is new, in-experienced but did a good turn here and the audience laughed at his punch lines. Roger Swift followed and I got a really good introduction and I won’t dwell on my own set for too long but I had a good-un and I really wasn’t a room split at this either because I won 95% of the crowd over and the timings on my self deprecating asides is really getting good, I was happy with this one.

Naturally we lost a few more of the audience the final break but things really kept moving and kept strong with Dave Pollard who did all his classics tonight (not the nasty character) which was for the better. His style and his jokes all hit and he was well suited to the audience and room. Finally rounding off the evening was Jay Islaam’s BamBam Sheikh who he wasn’t sure about, he had his doubts but he lay those to rest after a shaky start. His ‘Cross a Jew’ joke didn’t really land here but he still won them round with it pretty quickly after although as I had guessed they did laugh at it at a face value and didn’t see the irony in it, but we had spoken before and had both agreed that would properly be the case here.

Although a laboured start the gig was a success for the first night and certainly laid the ground for what will hopefully become a good night. They’ve ordered monthly gigs here on in on the last Tuesday of each month (par August & December) and tho budget isn’t great I am going to still (for the first 6 months anyway) stick with 6x 10 spots and will vet as they are an older audience so stuff that’s good for the studenty crowds, political and very blue material are a real no no for the time being, needs to be more solid observationalists and more ‘joke’ based stuff for the moment. Gig will be ticketed (£2 only) from here on in as well. Also going to take most of the tables out and just have rows of seats, keep less people from sitting at the bar and far end of the room and get them into the main room space. At any rate Teknicolour Smoof has a new monthly venue I ‘think’ and hope will last providing I book the right acts for the first 6 months and

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