27/11/18: Granvilles, Stone

This is more of a logistical report from the promoter than a review and I won’t say what I think of each acts set in too much detail as they are all different and made for a great selection box for a first night of a gig.

This is one that’s a 25 mile (50 mile round trip) from Telford but me and my close friend/landlord/boss of the Crown Inn John Ellis went along to meet and talk with the landlord Adam about doing a comedy night. We laid down the rules, format on how it should be run and how the room should be laid out. The venue is a local live music venue and it’s one big huge open plan layout with main stage in the corner where the audience is split down either side with the bar in front of you. We talked him out of doing the comedy there and to instead use window bay area as a stage and put the chairs in rows in front of it. He agreed and to also ticket it and agreed to a ‘’fairly’’ good budget, the day was set. After that another venue in nearby Shifnal spoke with us about doing a comedy night for them and they too agreed to such terms and the date for that came first. That gig was a success and will be going monthly now too but didn’t end up writing a report on it.

My focus had been on this Stone gig, Unlike Shifnal I decided to not do a turn myself at this one (that proved a BIG mistake there) as I am beyond self aware how polarizing my own act is. It my personal opinion as a promoter that unless you have a budget that’s big enough to pay for 2 professional standard club comedians to book end it who are safe and know how to work a room don’t have an opening 20 on the first night regardless. Instead have 4x ‘polished’ 10 spots instead. My reasoning here is because even if the compere is sound if the audience hive mind decides they don’t like the opening act that can kill that gig there and then. If you have 4x decent 10 spots if they don’t like the one 10 spot they’ll like the other as you go into first break. I have seen first hand entire groups leave a (first night) gig as the opening 20 act rubbed them up the wrong way/offended them etc and can always switch to opening 20’s after first show. Night 1 always give them a selection box with the 2x 10’s is my opinion.

On arrival at the gig we were lucky and managed to get a space JUST in front of the gig which was a god send as we so much equipment to bring in. Upon entry we found posters labelled with ‘sold out’ across them and landlord Adam had done everything we had said in our meeting to the letter. So the chairs were laid out in rows going right to the back of the room. The venue is on two levels with a huge balcony looking down at the ground floor to the window bay / stage are and the upstairs had been declared the green room. Adam also had rigged up this light hanging from the balcony that worked PERFECTLY and couldn’t have been more perfect which meant I had brought my light and rig for nothing. Set up with my own pa system tho which proved too quiet for the folk at the back and had to keep turning it up throughout the show to the point where it was as loud as I could get it without feedback/distortion.

The problem this gig has was the standard from a first night; late arrivals still eating curry and the classic…. Herding the people into the seats and thus we had the classic of them all filling from the back. The two rows at the front remaining almost empty, people hanging around the bar refusing to sit down and a gang of about 8 guys who came into the upstairs area (the green room) to watch it from above. This got under my skin but it was to be expected from the first night one of the few tweaks to sort for next time.

The show got underway around 10 minutes later than planned and John did is usual thing of being the comperes compere doing the intros. Aaron Twitchen was the host for the night who is always the perfect choice for audiences new to comedy and he got them laughing pretty quickly but like any new comedy audience they began life reserved and hard to get started but he was doing a good job still. They weren’t’ chatty or rowdy as such just ‘in their shells’. Rob Mitchell opened and he is always my go to when it comes to first 10 spot at the first night of a gig (he had done it at shifnal last week) and he once again proved a good choice as he’s very confident and his pull back and reveals always hit well. Unlike shifnal though his one-liner-y style jokes and puns got laughs here not awkward silence and eye rolls. Still not the finished article by any means and material needs a little tightening in parts but proved his worth again and made a good start to the gig.  Dave Dinsdale the governor followed next with his much more old skool style of joke telling and this proved somewhat hit and miss with the crowd. He didn’t do anything wrong of course so didn’t try new material and stuck the classics which I applaud him for but as I keep saying COMEDY IS SUBJECTIVE! The room were still warming up and he did his job without any complaints from me, he ended on his song with his uke and got a big laugh from his final joke(s). A lot of the crowd were younger than we had thought they were going to be so it was just a generation thing for a lot of them I feel. Good but just a bit hit and miss.

First break we finally got all but 2 of the guys who go downstairs and like always I see if we’ve lost any of the audience already at this point (we didn’t). The second section began with Aaron really ramping up the energy and the crowd were really starting to come alive now and he got some good crowd interaction going by finding out that the group of men were from a local charity and he had a lot of fun playing with that throughout the rest of the show. Harvey Hawkins opened this section and it’s fair to say proved the crowd favourite of the support spots, he used to be a straight up one liner act akin to Milton Jones but he’s gone more down a story telling route now whilst keeping his good one liner gags embedded in the stories. The guy is professional level when it comes to his confidence on stage and was getting the stronger harder laughs now. They were getting properly into it now although his opening story is always a hard one because it takes him nearly a minute to get to the pay off and first punch line although I’ve never seen it not prove totally worth it for the payback it gets. Hannah Silvester then followed and too had a good gig and stuck to her classics she struggled a bit at very first but soon got them on side with her. She’s been going down this route more lately than the musical comedy stuff but she ended on a song which didn’t get that great a reaction but I thought they were a live music venue so this came as a surprise to me as well.

Final break more pacing up and down the green room hoping the audience didn’t get slimmer (we lost no-one) and the audience came back, ready for the headline act. Andy White who I’ll just say had them round his little finger for the next 30 minutes. I’ve heard all his material many times before but his Nelson Mandela bit still gets me every time. All that went though my mind the entire time was ‘’perfect choice, what a pro’’ as I sat looking down from the balcony with John, Dave and Aaron. He did loose them briefly when he made a reference to something from the 70s that went completely over most of their ‘younger’ heads but didn’t take long to reel them back in. A master class in club comedy and he’s a lovely, friendly bloke off stage to boot no edge on him at all.

The landlord Adam couldn’t have been happier and gave to go ahead instantly to go monthly from Jan onwards, with a few small tweaks. We’ll get a rope to banish punters going upstairs for starters, try and get it started on time. Also I used my own PA but at the end tested running the mic and then small mixing desk I seldom use into his own in house PA and that works fine so OOOPS we’ll be doing that next time. So much less equipment and stuff to bring in and it also need to work at ushering them into the seats better to get the front two rows filled.

On my end sticking with paid headliners and think I’ll do opening 20’s even if I can’t afford pro standard ones but to do middle 10’s or a 2nd middle 20 is one I’ll stew on as hard to know exactly what act is exactly the right fit at this one as it stands but it was a huge success and will hopefully make a great addition to the circuit.


Aaron Twitchen [MC]

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