The swan is my ‘decent(ish) budget professional standard gig’ that I’ve been running at the posh restaurant / bnb in the small village of Forton a mile outside of Newport, Shropshire for about 2 years now. This one is run ad-hoc and we do about 4 a year or so. Previous shows have had audiences that have been on average about 35-40 people and always been in the venues function room. This one I also very selectively book as they have always been a much more reserved audience. Tonight all that went out of the window though as I had an e-mail the day before from the land lady Lisa telling me she had sold 75 tickets and counting and that it would be in the what is usually the dinning room of the venue which is bigger in order to cope with the numbers. Half way there to set up John rang me up to see if he could come along so went to drop off my equipment and see that she had already laid out the room ready and it was perfect chairs going back in perfect alignment. However the stage area (huge) was backing onto conservatory windows backing onto the view of the car park…and curtains that couldn’t be shut (decorative only) which was fine for tonight as it was dark already but in the summer it would have been a major problem. Also the back half of the room was side by side of the main ‘bar’ space so noise bleed from folk not there for the comedy concerned me but none of this proved to be issues at all. So upon a drive back to telford to pick up John we came back and finished the banners, pa, lighting etc and slowly the acts began to arrive with opening act Rob Coleman being first who acted as a guinea pig testing the lighting rig position.
It was an EXTREMELY late start (billed 8:45pm, 9:25pm when it properly started) with a rammed full room of 100+ punters tonight compere Alex Hylton started the ball rolling with his first gag (heckled in welsh) getting a huge laugh and straight away we off as it wasn’t going to be like normal the atmosphere was electric and they were laughters from the off. Knew straight away I’d be regretting not doing a turn myself on this one. After a 10 min warm up they were already ready for opening act. Rob Coleman; I don’t really need to explain what he does but he’s at his core he’s a one liner comedian but he mixes banter and some short stories into the mix and had fun messing with the group on the front row but getting into the jokes, he had an electric first 10 minutes then he went a bit more hit and miss for the rest splitting the room on different gags but a perfectly good opening 20 and he really enjoyed himself as did the majority of the audience…..expect the group of 4 who straight away left at that point as they had already decided live comedy clearly wasn’t for them (can’t help but notice it sorry). ”he said swear words” looks of degust across their faces at they all got in the car. ;p
Getting a lot of them back into their seats for the middle section proved hard as most were still outside or in the bar and we just had to start again leaving Alex with a hard time trying to compere whilst about half the audience found their way back to their seats again but once all seated he launched into some material which get them all back on side and the magic was still there as first middle act Billy Maguire who came close to stealing the show as he had them in belly laughs throughout his short set. He did his classic opening lines before doing his JFK assassination material which went down a storm with them but he kept it short and sweet as we already running so late and straight into the second middle act was Hannah Silvester one of the midlands finest breakthrough acts it has to be said. She had a bit of a shaky start but the laughs started to come after a couple of minutes as she got the women in the crowd on side which then engulfed the men too by the time she’d got the second half of the set. The song at the end rounded her set off nicely, very solid act with a very solid set she’s doing well and will go places.
Final section and it was getting very late (past 11pm) and as expected we lost about 15-20% of the audience in the second break but the ones left all came back once again slowly after the section had already begun Alex bantering away with the folk all returning to their seats and he quickly (once all were back) welcomed the headliner to the stage John Newton. I had chortle post vetted the headliner for this show and via his you tube video and comedy cv seemed perfect for the job, he was. Not a lot to say other than it was slick, polished and very gag laden….the audience lapped it up and the waves of laughter didn’t stop very good end to the night.
Landlady was happy, John was happy, I was happy (gutted I didn’t do a turn as I would have smashed it for sure) but much better than any night we’ve done there by miles, it was better in that room, but as Lisa said afterwards it really does need the tickets sales to past 45 to justify doing in that space instead of the (smaller) function room but we can but hope. She ordered another show in February next year with a promised much increased budget if that one hits those numbers again….the punters were all asking when the next show was at the end tho…. Here’s hoping
I’ve only got this venue (ad-hoc) and the crown (monthly) ..elephant & castle, dawley gonna be a 2 times a year thing (gong show in march & edinburgh previews in july) as of now. I’ve now decided I actually like running gigs again now so I WANT to take on another venue somewhere in Shropshire again …I want someone to get in touch about it ;p