13/09/16:THE CROWN INN

These aren’t really reviews they are blogs in every sense of the word because I’ll say what I think of acts in them but I’ll end up babbling in text for the most part. This blog begins with an update and quick back story since I last wrote on the smoof blog. We’ve had our August break in Shropshire whilst I went up and did the Edinburgh Fringe festival including taking the smoof brand with me for a daily showcase hour. Upon arrival it turned out to be in a un-weather proof, un-sound proof tent (LITERALLY a tent) in the courtyard of a busy pub at half past midnight and how that went is a whole blog in itself (I’m never going to write) but I also did my solo show called ‘Punderstudy’ as well which as the title suggests is a show with a lot of puns in it. Amongst other things it had it’s fair share of walk outs and fair share of people who loved it (very little middle ground in truth) but quite possibly the worst gag in the entire hour! a truly AWFUL pun from right in the middle of the show SOMEHOW made itself onto Dave’s top 15 jokes on the fringe at no.12!  …yep really (look it up) not that matters to me, not like I haven’t made a big of thing of it or anything (sarcasm alert) anyway….


The Crown Inn, Oakengates gig actually turned 5 in March 2011 so me landlord John Ellis had a chat about finally doing the thing we’ve always talked about and that is taking a risk and having a ‘big name’ headliner one month and when this was suggested the man I instantly wanted to book was my comedy hero and idol. Gary Delaney so I e-mailed him to see if he was free on the September date and if he’d consider doing it for a certain cash fee and much to our surprise he said yes! So upon confirming it we both sat and talked about choosing the support 10’s for the night selectively and we came up with some names we wanted (plus an act I’d already got booked in for that date since about January). So with the line up complete this was going to be the mother of all nights. Upon my return from Edinburgh 2 weeks ago I discovered it still hadn’t sold out yet but it was damn near close it and we did manage to get it to sell out about 4 days before. Another thing we had decided was that from this show onwards to kick off the show AT 8pm (instead of 8:30pm)…


I arrived to finish setting the club up at 6pm when punters had already began to arrive and due the high volume of punters they only had chairs and no tables in the front room meaning that everyone had to go into the back room & corridor to eat their curries. So the room setting up and punters eating curry overlapped somewhat and we had both punters not there for comedy still sat in the front room until the final possible minute and a bizarre gang of 3 sat in the backroom who kept walking around getting under everyone’s feet and I couldn’t make out what they were playing at… were they pub punters? comedy newcomers waiting for their curries? then I noticed they’d all got cameras and ‘autograph books’ and the penny dropped when one of them (having finally being told I was the guy to ask I think) came up and asked me (AND I QUOTE) “Where he is?” “Who” “Gary, the mock the week bloke from tele? where he is?” …aah autograph collectors clearly not interested in buying a ticket and watching just there making a nuisance of themselves because ‘person off the tele is going to be there’…had to disappoint them by explaining he wasn’t going to be there for another 2 hours or more yet so they all suddenly disappeared…Jesus 3 paragraphs in and I haven’t talked about the acts yet.


Right, Nick Clarke our resident compere back for his first gig since may was first to arrive and with about half hour to spare (he normally likes to turn up 3 mins before the start usually just to keep me stressed ;p) but opening act Lovdev Barpaga did that this time so he kept me on my toes. I had planned for Jay Islaam to come and do 5 minutes of new material on 2nd but instead he wished to do a short stint as his alter ego bambam shakih (his strongest material in fairness) so Colin Harris arrived in just enough time to be able to switch places. “GET TO THE FUCKING NIGHT AND THE ACTS THEMSELVES ROGER!” the voices in my head are telling me as I type this.. the show started BANG on planned time! (another first I think)


John Ellis did his usual pre-compere compering before bringing Nick Clarke onto do his stuff and after a long time he was totally back in the game and had them eating out the palm of his hand with crowd interaction that injected instant energy into the room from the off with no material needed at this point in the night, outside in the corridor middle section act Theresa (who had yet to gig with him until now) asks ”He’s professional I take it?” ..shocked when I told her no!!  as GD is one-liners we made the choice to book end the one-liner acts and Lovdev Barpaga opened to an amazing fanfare. He’d had same venue and was in the timeslot before me in Edinburgh each day and his blessings had been mixed much like mine from day to day. Tonight the audience bought straight into him from the off with his ‘dogs name’ punch line getting belly laughs. Almost seemed taken back to just how well it was going and broke the 4th wall when his ‘m***ge festival’ aside got a round of applause. ”That’s never happened before” he was loving his stage time tonight laughing at his own gags as ever just a tiny bit rusty and seemed to be hiding behind the mic stand for some of the set but an amazing start to the night.  Colin Harris went next and decided to drop the new stuff in favour of 5 minutes of the classics which proved a smart move I think, it lowered the pace and energy of what had just gone before but he held his own for the duration perfectly well with some nice gentle laughs, the material consisted of the stories from his previous job as a security guard which is soft and gentle but has really a nice punch line at the end. Wayne Beese closed this section and won’t deny at first I wasn’t sure how it was going to go for him with another shift of gears because his persona is totally flat & deadpan with an intentional dead behind the eyes-ness to it, the stories are long and drawn out but the material is really good & well written when you go with him on the journey and the punch lines are killer when he gets to them and the audience went with him tonight. Not seen his club set for a while and he’s really gotten it down now come such a long way since I first saw him on about his 5th ever gig, well worth booking for paid middles on pro bills.


After the interval Nick Clarke went into some material and quickly hit a comedy cul-de-sac but broke the 4th wall by acknowledging it which itself got major laughs and brok the tension and he shifted gears fast and once again quickly got them back on side in professional style and he then really got the energy back into the room. Theresa Farlow was next who I have so much time and I really like her on and off stage. She really works hard and is trying to be able to adapt herself to different rooms and thus gigs as much as can. Her material is quite Sarah millican-esq but her delivery is really quirky and different much more like Victoria wood with so much shock value and brilliant unexpected punch lines and has recently added in some great toppers too. Of course at present still one of those acts who isn’t completely safe just yet but tonight’s audience totally loved her and really went with it and it was the best reaction I’ve seen her get to date. BamBam Shaikh followed and Jay won’t mind me saying it’s a hit and miss act that can go one of two ways and I totally saw it go both ways in Edinburgh. I’ve talked about it before it’s a piece of satire in the vein of Al Murrays ‘the pub landlord’ but he plays an Arab and plays on peoples perceptions. It fly’s high and makes people uncomfortable in equal measure but it was a well lubed room and just perfect conditions for it too fly here. He kept to his quota and wrapped it up after 5 mins though which I was surprised by because it would have been criminal for me to cut him off at that point if he hadn’t done it himself. Acts smashing it and overrunning I’m never going to complain about ;p. Black country legend Johnny Sorrow was next up who hadn’t done this gig in simply years (about 4 years ago I think was last time, back in the days when it was free and we never got an audience) anyway it’s a character act and a very tightly scripted set and it’s not dissimilar to mine in that’s it’s high energy and very polarizing. So it’s a concept and you either buy into it with him quickly or you just get bored/confused.. The concept is (for those who don’t know) he’s a bitter comedy has been from yester-year angry that he didn’t make it with memorable catchphrases and repeated recurring jokes throughout.  To begin with he had a bit of hard time but then began to split the room clean down the middle but it slowly started to spread as more & more got on board with it as he went along as was having a blast by the end, dunno how he keeps the energy at his age still. Missed the last 3 mins or so on the night as I was needed in the courtyard but re-watched the tape to check. I’ve also Invited him back so he’s going to come back and do his ‘other’ character Trevor Never at the christmas show.


Had to rush outside as it turns out Gary D had arrived but the autograph hunters from earlier had come back and had managed to mob him. I get that they collect autographs that’s their thing and were grabbing their moment but they hadn’t bought tickets for the show and were really delaying him out there and I found that rather out of order, but anyway he managed to get away and come inside and try and check over his notes. He had few new gags he wanted to throw in his set tonight but delays in him checking them as punters coming outside for fags, toilets and drinks at the bar were all then wanting to get selfies with him. I pulled out my secret hidden chair and shuck myself onto the end of the front row (yes it was planned, I’m a fan boy you know)


Still keeping to time (almost) 3rd and final section behinds with John tricking people into thinking he was bringing him on ”he made the top 15 jokes in Edinburgh”  …it was me ;p. I went up on stage to tell me ”award winning” marmite joke then to show off The Sun newspaper from August where I had been printed next to Gary … and how much that meant to me (IT DOES! It means a lot to me),  finally Nick Clarke came back to try out 3 minutes of all new material all smutty as usual but all of which went down a storm before the main man Gary Delaney finally came onto the stage for his headline set. I won’t continue without saying everything said here on in is bias because the man’s a god to me and I want his brain, his joke writing abilities. He opened quite laid back though almost with a dead behind the eyes ‘I don’t want to be here’ look about him but this soon became apparent as just a trick because  he said he had some gags to try out randomly in tonight’s set and proceeded to do my marmite joke and the mask was off then. One Liners that’s what he does, no frills, no gimmicks, it’s just one liner gags thick and fast but the quality of each and every gag is amazing to scary levels, all 10/10 applause worthy. If ever there was a bar to be set this was setting it in the heavens. ”Smashing” a gig means nothing compared to what he did, nah smashing it is an insult and understatement he literally assassinated this gig beyond anyone I have ever seen at this gig before. Even he was shocked by just how much he could push it and where the line could be drawn with this audience. It couldn’t because everything was game here. The meta stuff about ‘neighbouring town being shit” got belly laughs as well. The front door had been locked the whole night and a sign had been put up telling people to come around the back but someone choose to ignore this try and instead try ram the door off then pressed the door bell. This didn’t phase him in the slightest ”there’s someone at the door! I’ve been heckled before but never by a fucking door bell!”…. Put simply the man’s a god like genius and I am awe of him and was it wonderful and amazing I finally was able to book him for the gig (and that he agreed). He may be doing mock the week now but still does these pubs gig when he can, what a gentlemen.


Put simply best night of Comedy at The Crown Inn we’ve ever had in the 5 years we’ve been doing it. In fact now comes the comedown for me ;p,  right next month it returns to earth a bit with an excellent line up of acts. It’s another really strong line up and headlined by Carl Jones who’s a got an amazing great club set but now the bars been set that high ;p    We are going to do it again though and go for a high end act with TV credits to come and do it again at some point in the next year though


Buy tickets for next month….please ;p


Photos > https://www.flickr.com/photos/roger_swift_1983/albums/72157673766024266


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