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