So now in it’s 3rd year The Swan at Forton is my professional standard gig that runs 3-4 times a year and had always been a 30-40 or so in attendance in one of the venues slightly smaller rooms however last October that changed when they sold 100+ tickets and moved it into a much bigger room next to the bar itself and was one of the best nights smoof has ever run (see the review for that one further down the page) the atmosphere was electric and audience were so up for it. So with that in mind and believing it would be another one like that again booked a line up that would be both a mix of styles and ‘hopefully’ right for the room so going on last one I picked Nick Clarke as compere (always my first choice) Patrick Draper opening with Marshall B Anderson as a wild card 10 spot and thought the 2nd middle needed to be a ‘one liner’ act and my first 2 choices were sadly unavailable for the night so I thought ‘why not me?’ not done the gig before as I never thought I was right for it as had always been a more ‘reserved’ audience until last one but maybe now (going off last time) I finally would be right.
So John once again came along as my roadie and upon arrival found they had sold 92 tickets! and had laid the chairs out and we had to move one to fit the lighting rig in and also was using my new screen & projector which meant removing a chair on the front row to get that in, the room filled up fast with people coming in and reserving their chairs via putting coats on them before hand and we actually ready to start at 9pm this time so almost kept to time. Nick Clarke kicked the night off in style like a true professional and for few mins I was worried they were going to be a reserved audience but soon the laughs came with a gang of 5x 20 something lads showing they were totally up for a laugh and not much work was needed before the opening act could come on and do his thing. Patrick Draper who it’s fair to say I’ve never seen stronger with his slow deadpan persona perfectly suiting the mood of the room at that point. His joke about performing in a conservatory and reading out the postcode from his hand creating instant ripples of laughter. Without giving too much of his act away his roll down props pictures are always the highlight of the show for me and funny to see people at the back standing up to see what the front of the room were laughing so much at. Put simply he proved to be the perfect opening 20 for the night and we had our first interval.
Nick Clarke felt he hadn’t done enough warm up stuff in the first bit so he tried working the crowd more and tried doing his ‘rampant rabbit’ material but this soon detailed into a 20 minute tangent discussion with a guy in the audience Ricardo who’s son apparently worked in Anne Summers, this was not a bad thing though because the audience were completely on board with both of them for the entire duration and shows Clarks true professional skills as a compere being able to ab-lib on the fly and could have carried on with this for the entire show but eventually had to cut it off and bring the first middle spot on Marshall B Anderson. Now Marshall has always gone down well at my monthly Crown Gig and last time Billy Maguire had gone down a total storm in this spot here so after much thought I decided if he did his ‘grumpy old man’ esq. material it would work quite well here (a wild card choice). It was sharp and as well executed as ever but sadly as always is with acts like this that can be hit and miss, just wasn’t right for the room/audience on the night he did get a very good laugh out of some new material involving sound effects from his phone. Roger Swift followed and it’s hard to write about yourself in the 3rd person but I ‘initially’ had a hard time with isolated tuts and groans but I piled on the energy and the asides and quickly forced them into submission and the Stephen Hawkins joke really proved to find their level and bring them on board and 75-80% of the room then got on and rode the crazy train with me and by the end me doing asides pointing out the minorities in the audience who just didn’t get it just added further to the waves of uncontrollable laughter. The projector gags still add an extra level to it and it’s worth the hassle of setting it up as it means I can end of the pink panther/dead ant gag and once again that killed!
Final section and didn’t loose anyone! Always a sign how good this night had been Nick very quickly got the headliner Daliso Chaponda who was doubling up having had opened for Wayne Beeses newly reactivated Lamp Tavern gig in dudley and arrived just in time during the break. Seeing the full time professional club comedians work the rooms like they do always reminds me how much of a line between there is, no polarization no people not getting it just an audience all laughing in unison and doing their job in a true slick fashion, they are just another level entirely. He refers to himself as an African comedian and it’s a slick set exploring the clash of cultures and his observations of current affairs with some brilliant pull & back reveals but unique angles on the subject matters. He was playing to an audience entirely middle class and white and this just added to the position he was in and made the room take to him even more, knocked em dead for 25 minutes. Excellent headliner
Audience came away super happy having enjoyed a brilliant and good value for money comedy night and were asking when they could buy tickets for the next one. Takes me and John nearly an hour to take everything down again and put it all back into the right boxes and bags, then load it all into the car though ;p Also the ‘stage’ area is in the conservatory windows and has no curtains can see car park out the windows (without the smoof banners and screen covering it up) fine for dark nights but will need a solution for when we do shows in the summer and it’s light nights….too distracting. However totally different audience and atmosphere to what we used to get so can easily repeat acts I had on in earlier days now.
Photos > https://www.flickr.com/…/roger_swi…/albums/72157678544459432