Monthly Archives: February 2016

23/02/16: The Dog In The Lane

So here it was the second night at The Dog In The Lane, Astley. The always tricky follow up album to the hit debut and once again John had come along with me the help/enjoy his night off/part run the gig. First night it has been run as free entry but had ticketed this second show at £2 a ticket however upon on arrival we were greeted with some shocking news….none sold! not a single ticket had been pre-sold but “loads of people say they are coming along, they promised they are defiantly coming” ..won’t lie felt dead inside, thought this gig and venue was going to die there and then and the acts would be going home gigless… I really did think that … (I was wrong as the rest of this review will show)

Me and john set up the PA and lights and laid the room out ready and then an audience did start to show! as a family of 4 came in and ‘reserved’ their seats on the back row….maybe it won’t be as bad as we thought! Dave Dinsdale had been the compere for the first night and at the request of the landlord & myself had been asked back to do the second night but due to a serve chest infection had had to drop out and was replaced by Crown regular compere Nick Clarke who himself was ill on the day and had to be replaced by Jon Pearson (great saver of bacon that guy), with another act also having to withdraw and Masai Graham now needing a new driver. Rob Kemp was added in to complete the line up, but 8:30pm we had a comfortable room of about 25 or so punters (stayed all night, didn’t loose a single one in either break). Apart from the family of 4 at the back they were all older, conservative, same as lat month.

Jon Pearson ”opened” as he pretty much went straight in with material and got some laughs pretty quick, the foursome at the front were a gift throughout out the whole night (Laughers, up for a good time). Not a lot I can say about Pearson’s material expect he’s come in leaps and bounds since I first met and saw him about 5 years ago and is professional as they come now, did his job as you’d want. Funny moment when we was bantering with the crowd was when it turned out the head of the family sat at the back were the biggest celebrities in the room as they’d been on BBC’s home under the hammer once (My mum is literally ADDICTED to that show sure she’d have known his face). Colin Harris went first and I assumed he’s gell well with an older audience and I was correct about that. He did his standard 10 set tonight (not new material based around a subject) and it was fun to note the stuff from the new material spots at my crown gig all last year has made it into his set now and it all fits and flows well. Although I think he lost it a bit in the last 3 minutes or so when it started to trail of but overall proved a nice opener for the night. Dave Tomlinson went next who always done well at my gigs but was a bit ”too” quirky for this crowd it seemed, he opened with material which involved puns on former labour cabinet ministers though and I’m not to judge but I’m pretty confident most people in this area are going to be Tory voters (just a hunch) (and I’ll come to back that at the end) that might have upset them from the off but his classic pull back & revel about the tracksuit never fails anywhere. Slow, dead-pan works for him, needs to work on the material more though.

After our first interval Pearson didn’t do much material (not required) and pretty quickly brought on Theresa Farlow who I have got a lot of time for as a person and act and she’s one of those acts that when she gets the right audience and the right dynamic in the room she is just amazing and loves it (can see she’s having a blast) and tonight was one of those nights. She’s got the confidence, the charm and the material which isn’t perfect yet, like everyone’s could be improved and edited but she’s got the punch lines in all the right places and audience REALLY took to her tonight and she had a blast. By complete contrast from story telling to straight forward one liner gags it was Ryan Brown next who too had an amazing gig, such well written and delivered one liners and he laughs at his own gags which just adds to it and builds momentum, 9/10 of his gags are really good and he’s got the odd one which wouldn’t be out of place in Gary Delaneys set, his only pitfall as I’ve said in previous reviews is he has his comfort blanket his piece of paper he keeps looking at….learn the gags and it would be a slick as hell and unbelievably strong then, regardless he really had the audience belly laughing throughout. They really are a ‘gag’ crowd at this and the landlord Colin clearly loves the ‘gags’ too.

Final section and Rob Kemp who has been nominated for an award for his solo show at the Leicester comedy festival. ‘Comedians’ Comedian goes without saying and tonight he confused them for the first minute before declaring “Yes I’m the weird one. Every comedy night there’s a lady comic, an ethic one, and the weird one and that’s me tonight” this spelt it out to them pretty clearly and won a lot of them over to him. His whole set is ‘meta comedy’ and he’s so self aware it’s hard to tell where he’s going and thus difficult to explain so you either get on board with it or you don’t, tonight he was a surprise hit overall but I will say he lost them somewhat in the last few minutes with stuff about the bible. The payoff at the end of that bit is totally worth it though and a really good bit as part of a longer show. He’ll hate me for saying this his ‘zombie comedy’ bit still makes a better end to a short 10 set. Masai Graham closed the show and the guy rightly won the title of UK Pun Champion a few weeks ago (he beat me don’t you know) and I’ve reviewed him many times before he does jokes and puns with banter around the jokes and they range from corny to seriously dark. Tonight he joked and bantered with them flawlessly and I expected totally knocked it out the park and did a solid 25 minutes (I’d put him on last so that he could do as long as he wanted anyway) hit after hit after hit and he still left them wanting more. I couldn’t fault, perfect closer for the room. Night ran as smoothly as it could have, everyone there was there for comedy and the show was finished by 10:35pm and thus we didn’t loose a single audience member everyone stayed. A completely successful second night and all good for the next one.

Although to anyone reading this it must be said! Older, conservative audience, must hold back on the swearing and filth (must only be done in context when needed) and despite the budget being low for the time being. It’s not a gig I can book anyone for really it’s just not a night for new material and must be acts who can at least deliver a good well rehearsed 10 minute set with confidence. They like the ‘gaggy’ stuff and can’t be anything political and needs to have punch lines etc so won’t be able to book just anyone for this one for the foreseeable future and I will have to turn some people down sadly. Lovdev Barpaga, Phil Pagett & Rob Coleman will be perfect for this though in the coming months…. to give an idea.

I have a success on my hands it seems, just hope it doesn’t loose momentum quickly and I’m not taking anything for granted yet.

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09/02/16: THE CROWN INN

So it was just another comedy & curry at The Crown Inn, this month it was a lower turnout than the previous one but it was still a full front room with an as always nice and up for it audience. This gig has a good reputation and word of mouth on the comedy circuit now for being good & well run and more & more folk out there are getting in touch me with asking to come and do it. Which does mean some coming from much further a field which presents a double headed sword. It means fresh and different faces for the audience but it means them travelling long distances and it takes them a long time with delays in them getting to the gig and the lata is what made the first part of the night seriously stressful for me, with a foursome coming from London/Southend!

On the other end of the distance spectrum we also had a guy from down the road in Donnington who had messaged me asking if I’d be kind enough to let him have ‘a go’ at stand up at my gig and given such a gig didn’t exist locally 7 years ago when I wanted such a thing I said yes he could come and do 5 minutes (given I’d been in his shoes once). So by 8:20pm he was the only act at the venue ready with panic gripping my soul & stress levels at an all time high and the audience all having finished their curries and ready for the show to begin our resident compere Nick Clarke arrived then JUST in the nick of time the two brum acts Jim Kelly & Neil Irving arrived with just minutes to spare. It wasn’t my original plan but with the London carpool still another 15 minutes away at least we had no choice but to open with these two and opted for Jim to go first.

Nick Clarke was on form like he always is; seriously just give that man an microphone and an audience, wind him up and watch him go and did what he always does a solid 10 minutes warm up totally unscripted at the top of the show and got them laughing from the off. It was one of our regular punters Aaron’s birthday and he got him on stage for an audience rendition of Happy Birthday and he took that in good merit and really got the audience ready (me outside in the corridor checking down to the minute when the carpool was due with time running out & panic gripping my soul). Jim Kelly took the opening spot (well it’s never really an opening spot at this gig now as nick gets them going so well at the start each time). Jim has been to the gig before but not in over 18 months and was due to do an all new material set but given the position he was in he opted to ‘mostly’ his normal set with a bit of new stuff thrown in. His style is on a personal note my kind of thing, it’s a mix up on silly one-liners and short stories, he’s got a really nice tight set and would be bigger doing paid 10 on pro bills by now if he had the time and transport to do them. He did a great job opening and got the audience on his side. His comedy sidekick and comrade Neil Irving then followed and his material and style is better suited to going later in a gig but just didn’t have the choice here. Like Jim he did mostly stuff from his normal set with some new stuff thrown in. His delivery style is rather quirky and unique but it does work well if you just ride it and buy into him as a character and he gets rather blue with his material about anal beads which I’ve seen get different results at different gigs here it split the room a bit but got the laughs it deserved (it’s all about the perfect timing and the sound effects). Mid-set one of the carpool finally walked though the door and though into the corridor literally arriving by the skin of their teeth literally 3 minutes from one of them needing to take to the stage. Cressida Wetton kindly volunteered to go straight up and close the first section. Turns out she is originally from the west country and didn’t (quote) “expect to find this to be radio 4 audience”, very confident, very slick but laid back delivery who the audience took to very well and very well crafted material, she would have worked well as an opener but wasn’t possible.

First break and Nick got them back into the mood again with a story about some crowd interaction he did from a previous gig (now often uses this gig to tell those) before getting into the second of the London foursome; Matt Arlington who was a very traditional style story teller who had a bit of a shaky start but soon got his feet into it when he got to his bit about the odd ”symptoms” you get on the information provided with medicine. Ross McGrane followed who it’s fair to say I would defiantly be rebooking for my other gigs if he was more local. Perfect stage persona, delivery and timing and some very clever and funny material, the bit about what the 90s equivalent of facebook game requests would have been like was the highlight for me, totally embraced by the audience too. Adrian ‘Taco’ Jones was the last of the carpool to do his thing (I had met him in Edinburgh last year) he had a set of two half’s, very good first half but did trail off a bit in the second (needs some editing) but still very good and well received by the audience. The political stuff about sending immigrants home (he’s an Aussie currently living in London) went down well with some the regulars who I know are also very political active locally.

Final segment and opening it we had Sean Massey who was doing his very first gig and had sat in the corridor as a bag of nerves the whole night. Nick had given him a great intro and the audience had given him a lot of love. Even so he came alone and hadn’t packed out the audience with his friends (common for first timers) and his nerves clearly showed but he had no notes and had clearly rehearsed his stuff at home and remembered it all with no fluffs or anything. Audience took to him nicely and he got the laughs he deserved; Material was also above average for a first timer too and I will be interested to see if wants to develop it more and do more gigs, I think he has some potential. Finally the headliner; Craig Deeley who despite being local amazingly had never gigged for smoof until now and he debuted in style and proved to be perfectly suited to headlining this room. He’s almost a one liner comedian but not quite as it’s well crafted one-liners balanced flawlessly with short stories etc but peppered with perfectly timed punch lines and he never goes too long without a laugh. His Indiana Jones joke is still the highlight of the set for me. He commented earlier in the night how ”such a lovely audience” they all seemed and then how much he enjoyed the gig afterwards. Top fella, top headliner, another great night in the bag and this month nobody bombed and everyone had at very least reasonably good gigs.

One thing I will say is that from out the corridor then watching the video camera footage back, acts actully are clearly getting more than laughs than they appear to on the night. Outside the room and round the corner the atmopshere is somewhat lost, gonna sit inside as part of the audience here on in.

Love what this gig has become, here’s to the next one and the rest of 2016! Looking forward to seeing what they make of Stevie Gray in april ;p


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