26/01/16: The Dog In The Lane

This was a brand new venue that is out the middle of nowhere on a road leading out of Shrewsbury that had been many months in the making because I first went and spoke to them in early October last year but they wanted to start the night in January give it plenty of time to be promoted. They also wanted it to be free (which I’m always against) but went and saw the venue and meet the landlord & landlady Colin & Sue. They were owners (it wasn’t a managed pub or a chain) and they had been running the pub for over 10 years and these are the kind of venues where comedy nights sometimes prove to work as no ‘management’ who get paid regardless. So with a date for the first night sorted I decided to not book a ‘headliner’ but instead a decent compere and vet 6x solid 10 spots …well I’m a solid 10 spot so could do a turn myself and vetted 5 others and I think I made the right choices from those who applied but as the time went on I added a 7th who we then lost again and went back down to 6x but that proved to be the perfect number on the night itself.

Me and John had visited the pub for a drink on the way back from a car crash (one off) gig I ran in wem last November and even back then he had the posters up so we knew it was off to a good start with this one. On the night itself we had a phone call on route from compere and head driver Dave Dinsdale who was having difficultly getting hold of Dave Pollard at home but this was soon resolved. Arriving at the venue Colin & Sue had already turned all the chairs and tables the right way round allowing us to just step up the PA and lighting rig. However the way the pub is it means the ‘comedy area’ and the ‘stage’ is right in front of the toilets, so they have to open up some secondary toilets at the other end of the of the pub for people to use and this didn’t prove a problem as I thought it might at first. However yet another issue I didn’t foresee is that they wanted us to rig my PA though the pubs in house speaker system allowing people all throughout the whole pub to hear the show. I principle a good idea however we realised this would make people all sit in the back half of the pub not in the comedy area itself and refuse to come forward which as you expected they all did but we had enough come forward and throughout the night more came forward. The audience was about 25-30 who had come in for the comedy. Still some who laughed but sat and watched it from the bar the whole night. From here on in I’m not really going to talk about the comedians routines and what I think about them (I think 4 of them are solid turns with good polished sets) it’s much more how they were received by the audience on the night.

Dave Dinsdale was the right man for the compere job as he started before the show started (if you’ve seen him you know what he does) he pre-comperes before he comperes and it showed the audience weren’t rowdy nor were they talkers etc they were well behaved (average age 60) but to begin with they weren’t really laughter’s very much and it took a lot of easing into it. Thomas Rackham had the hardest job of being the first ever act on the first ever night and I think overall I made the right choice with him. His set is very laid back, confident and slick, material still needs some editing but he has punch lines in his material, they were so polite and reserved at this point I was beginning to worry but he did his job with no complaints and enjoyed himself. Andrew Nightingale came next who again has a good laid back approach with nice story telling with punch lines in all the right places although he does get rather blue with some of stories and some of the punters got a little uncomfortable it seems. It’s all in context of course but punters will be punters and hear the words they want to hear, no complaints again he did his job and laughs were beginning to pick up slowly now.

After first interval we lost one table to the back of the room but others moved forward in their place. Dinsdale put his foot on the gas more by doing the higher lower game which injected some much needed life into the room and got them laughing. Danny Beet who I had booked as a token ‘new’ act, have one newer act on to balance the night out and I let it be him. I’ve seen him get mixed results at various gigs already and his delivery, timing or stage presence isn’t very good at all to be honest but he did tell jokes and that’s the first step in this, just saying ‘remember this’ only works if your peter kay and rambling stories without any payoff only works if your Paul Foot. Anyway Danny is new, in-experienced but did a good turn here and the audience laughed at his punch lines. Roger Swift followed and I got a really good introduction and I won’t dwell on my own set for too long but I had a good-un and I really wasn’t a room split at this either because I won 95% of the crowd over and the timings on my self deprecating asides is really getting good, I was happy with this one.

Naturally we lost a few more of the audience the final break but things really kept moving and kept strong with Dave Pollard who did all his classics tonight (not the nasty character) which was for the better. His style and his jokes all hit and he was well suited to the audience and room. Finally rounding off the evening was Jay Islaam’s BamBam Sheikh who he wasn’t sure about, he had his doubts but he lay those to rest after a shaky start. His ‘Cross a Jew’ joke didn’t really land here but he still won them round with it pretty quickly after although as I had guessed they did laugh at it at a face value and didn’t see the irony in it, but we had spoken before and had both agreed that would properly be the case here.

Although a laboured start the gig was a success for the first night and certainly laid the ground for what will hopefully become a good night. They’ve ordered monthly gigs here on in on the last Tuesday of each month (par August & December) and tho budget isn’t great I am going to still (for the first 6 months anyway) stick with 6x 10 spots and will vet as they are an older audience so stuff that’s good for the studenty crowds, political and very blue material are a real no no for the time being, needs to be more solid observationalists and more ‘joke’ based stuff for the moment. Gig will be ticketed (£2 only) from here on in as well. Also going to take most of the tables out and just have rows of seats, keep less people from sitting at the bar and far end of the room and get them into the main room space. At any rate Teknicolour Smoof has a new monthly venue I ‘think’ and hope will last providing I book the right acts for the first 6 months and


Teknicolour Smoof – Dinsdale, Monmoth, Anderson, Swift, Brown, Milton, Miyagi, Pollard, Graham, Hylton, Farrell, Pagett, Pearson and Nightingale Bros (MC)

08/12/15: THE CROWN INN (our first ever show reviewed by another)


Last night I was at Roger Swift’s Teknicolour Smoof gig at the Crown Inn of Telford. This gig has a splendidly quirky name, that tickles me every time I see it. This is also a gig I’ve wanted to go to for a long time, but due to the fact that it is located in Middle-Earth or some place, I’ve not been. It seems miles away from home. In fact, I was only able to attend it due to a car share with Jon Pearson. I’d never been to Telford prior to this. I was aware that it was a new town, somewhere between Birmingham and Wales, but beyond that, the place was a mystery. I was pleasantly surprised by the venue. The Crown Inn isn’t a new pub. It was actually built in 1835 and has a lovely solid feel to it. The audience (sold out at £2 a ticket…

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10/11/15: The Crown Inn

Haven’t blogged one of our gigs in far too long. I’d love to get Peter Fox (Nots comedy reviewer) to one of these nights, get a review from a less unbiased non comedian set of eyes. So anyway here we go as tonight we had quite possibly the greatest night of comedy at The Crown Inn in all the years we’ve been running it since 2012! Well maybe not the single strongest line up of acts but the biggest audience turnout ever as this was official first time we’d declared it a sell out! with every single possible seat we could bring into the room sat on (and 2 standing and 2 more watching it ‘THOUGH’ the bar from the other room!) prior to the show I did my usual thing of pacing up and down with acts on route stuck in traffic meaning by 8:30pm and the audience more than ready to start we had to run with what we’d got.

Nick Clarke took to the stage and really don’t have to say too much as I cannot praise him enough. Comedy can be a getting the right shaped pegs into the right shaped holes sometimes and he’s just become the dream compere for this gig a square peg in a square hole I don’t know how it does it or what his magic formula is but he ripped into a bunch of people coming for a works night out who turned out to work for the taxman, the banter and laugher from ripping with them was obviously organic, he loosened everyone up more by bringing people onto the stage for a sing a long of Morecombe & Wises ‘Bring me sunshine’. First 10 spot of the night came from Sarah Airey who is going though so much in her life and is such a sweet person I’ll go back to my holes in holes analogy here. She needs the right dynamic so round peg, square hole and to quote landlord John Ellis ”Just wasn’t her audience but put her as a warm up at a Sarah McMillan gig and she’d have a blast” I got to say he put that better than I ever could. So some more razor sharp organic compering from nick followed and next it was Colin Harris (& Me) who have been resident new material every month this year (save july/aug) I give him a theme (I use a online random subject generator) and he had ‘swimming’ and because it’s always new and has never been performed before it is extremely hit and miss and twice has it turned out to been very good throughout tonight; the first time that happened was back in January and the second time was last night so it proved a book ended gold mime for him the year. Roger Swift directly followed with his clipboard and tried 2 minutes of his usual ‘bad pun’ ‘popular culture based; one liners (only one with a prop this time) (I had another prop one but forgot to do it oops) I also have this random ‘mini casetteboy’ audio cut up line I’ve been trying out and it’s always been getting a big laugh despite the sheer lack of context I’ve yet been able to find to put in it but got a big laugh again here. The one liners themselves nearly ticks again tonight (it’s more about the rhythm and delivery with my standard set it’s working this new stuff into it always). The original plan was for another act but with it being a full room and thus being so hot and sticky we had to call a break at this point and re-jig the rest of the night.

Monty Burns opened the middle section and ‘show stealer’ is a total understatement he was high energy with lots of punch lines that was PERFECT for the audience and room tonight very assessable flawlessly executed observational material about his family and trivials of his daily life, given I’ve done so many gigs in so many different atmospheres can still totally imagine gigs where this wouldn’t go so well but here it was perfect. Landlord and a few of the punters who spoke to me afterwards all said they wanted him back (so did I) already booked him to come back and headline next year. Next up was a sketch troupe Frasco Fools now sketch troupes aren’t ever collectives of traditional stand ups their comprised of actors; not saying that is bad just stating how it works because it just means they aren’t always common currency to book like traditional stand ups are and I really like having the sketch troupes at comedy nights because they are such a refreshing alternative to put on in the middle of normal stand ups but I’ve still seen some of them perform to silence in the past but not tonight. 3 ‘word’ perfect and completely different comedy sketches with well timed punch lines throughout and suburb acting, one about toffs and northerners one about health & safety and one about a Yorkshire family having a argument whilst having a brew., highlight for me though was still right at the start when one of them said she needed to do a vocal warm up and screamed into someone on the front tables face. No microphones meant I couldn’t hear it all properly from the corridor outside but watched the recording back and it’s a huge thumbs up from me, would like to put them in a middle spot at my pro standard bill see how it play out in that environment but will be booking them again for this gig and next year if I can. One of our regular punters even commented on his face book that’d enjoyed that sketch comedy surprise. Dean Mavros who has twice in past ‘just piped’ me into 2nd place at gong shows further up north (not that I’m bitter ;p) he reminds me of a northern Graham Milton in that he’s got extremely crafted intelligent material that flows so brilliantly, punctuated with the call-backs, he’s delivery is very slow and paced (matches the material subjects) magic with the right audience and he too had a good gig here tonight.

Final section with the show running very overtime and very late. Wish I had more powers to control the breaks more to keep them exactly 10 minutes each time (but it’s not my pub) penultimate act is a guy called Tim Hoskins a new act from Tewksbury (he came with headliner who followed).. this is an act I really didn’t know what to make of it, if my opinion was a jury than the juries out on this one. It was like a series of sketches with different characters (different accents) as far as I could tell it was certainly different but really needs a lot of work. I just felt that rob halden of juice comedy (who is a master writer/workshopper) he could really do something with this guys ideas. I’d book him again tho as I’d be interested to see how it develops because he’s got some really out-of-the-box concepts here but needs a lot of focus. Jon Wagstaffe finally took the stage for his headline set at 10:50pm and the audience were hot and tired by this point but he delivered the goods with a bang as he does. High energy story telling (much like Monty burns earlier) with flawless interflowing crowd work and a solid 25 minute ‘club’ set because wag is a club comic though and though, not saying that’s a bad thing just he’s perfectly suited for the weekend comedy club gigs. He managed to get out his note book on the fly and throw in some shreds of new material about fishing because wag is a club style comic even his new material ideas are always pretty fully formed and barely need tweaking at all.

Late night that went on too long but audience loved it and I think it was one of the best nights we’ve ever had at the gig. Next month is our massive Christmas special show with everyone from the year who had good gigs crammed into one show! Hoping this sell outs again and with every act on the bill being good with the atmosphere we got at this one it’ll be the best night ever! fingers crossed

12/06/15: The Swan

So this is a new gig and venue for Teknicolour Smoof and this was came about much earlier in the year (February) when I was contacted by the landlady who wanted to ask about ”booking a comedian” so went and met up with her and talked her round from that notion into booking a ‘comedy night’ and we agreed a budget (she wanted a pro headliner) and a date which later had to be changed due to the function room being double booked. This was a hard decision because this could be the start of something big so I straight away made the conscious decision I’d not make any money from it as it was night 1 as I just wanted it to go right but do I spend it all of the headliner or keep some back to split amongst the support acts. It’s more of a headache choosing the right acts and asking nicely if they’ll do unpaid than it is to offer them money, but I did just that and assembled what I thought was the best possible support act line up but alas it wasn’t to be by the night itself, but I had the best I could do given I’d dug myself into a hole over how’d I chosen to spend the allocated money.

We had a problem as the landlady had laid out the chairs perfectly fine so they didn’t need to be changed at all as they were all in rows but all had high backs making it so the people sat at the back could only see the top half of the comedians but we actually managed to people to sit on the front row. SHOCK HORROR! That’s after they’d finished their food though as it’s a posh restaurant/b/n/b and bar as apposed to a pub. So we were rather late starting the gig and for a while as is the norm panic started to grip my soul as the room was empty and we started to ask where the promised audience of 26 were? fortunately it took until 9:05pm but they all showed up and with only a few empty seats too. As I had guessed it was a mixed ‘middle class’ audience who were not belly laughers, quite reserved in fact and I think the original line up of comedians I had booked for this would have all been literally perfect for the room but alas it wasn’t to be.

Dave Dinsdale was on compere duties and he was naturally my first choice of compere for this gig and he has recently given up on just being himself and adopted a new character persona, voice and look for his comedy which he feels more comfortable with but he’ll always just be Dave Dinsdale to me however he packages it. He did his pre-compering compering trick and set the night of a nice friendly start, always a safe pair of hands for the job. First act was Alex Hylton (only remaining support act from my original selection) he has a very laid back low energy persona so thought he’d make a good start to an audience who had never been to comedy before and by his own admission he scored a 5/10, it was a 50/50 mix between his stuff hitting and missing. Stevie Gray followed him and he was unknown to me as he was a last second substitute for the gig as I had had to put out a plea to find someone in the end but he didn’t want to do be limited to 10 minutes and he wasn’t as he did a microphone-less 20 minutes of material which contained a mixture of crowd interaction and topical material rounded off with a song and jokes about secret santa. The material isn’t unique or cleverly constructed, but certainly gave the audience exactly what they were craving Nice, simple, easily digestible gags and will book again in a heart beat when I have space somewhere.

A longish break followed with Dinsdale doing more pre-compering and his higher lower game proving hit and miss, it got the energy up but as always some people always hard to get anything out of. Theresa Farlow was next up who is one of those great acts who has gotten very good very fast and has a nice rounded 10 minutes of material already. Tonight she had a good gig but her cradle joke is always a tester for any audience as they didn’t seem the ‘sweary’ type of crowd but alas she had a good-un. Roger Swift who wasn’t my first choice for this gig but any means but he obviously was available and here he proved to be pure neat marmite straight from the jar with stone/bored faces juxtaposed with people literally crying with laughter and there was ZERO middle ground. Which I’d be happy with that anywhere else but not here as this was the first night of a new gig and wanted far less risky acts who would please all, but hey it proved a surprise and added a mixture to the night.

Another long break and finally we had Dinsdale do his song and why not? It’s a great song and it got the laughs throughout. Noel James was the headliner who I show bias towards because it’s really my kind of thing comedy wise. Gag laden tight set in which he tries to get as many gags into each bit as he can and they all really well written good quality gags too, wasn’t the ideal headliner for the room though as they clearly were more of a ‘story teller’ crowd but he’s clearly been at it long enough to be able to pace it well enough to make it work in any given environment. Love the part where he manages to get 2 minutes of material and gags out of his guitar bag, a sentiment to this creative genius.

All in all a good night, not the best choices of acts for it but they all enjoyed it and came away happy (save the 4 who left mid-noel james’s set it seems) and landlady Lisa ordered a second show on Friday 18th September with an increased budget yay! and before I start getting the messages asking for spots it’s going to be a (quote) “once every 3 months or so” thing and they cleat want story tellers and run of the mill so know who I should book for this one. Andy White headlining and Jon Peason opening the next one 😉 should be a good show.

09/06/15: The Crown Inn

Right another night of comedy & curry at The Crown Inn and our last ”comedy club” show until September (July is Edinburgh previews and pub takes a break from all live entertainment in august) tonight as is the normal we had some drop outs but managed to sort out some replacements but for the first ever time we tried having a paid headliner’ at the end of the night.

Our regular compere Nick Clarke was away on holiday so it was the turn of Dave Pollard who had done a grand job of it back in January and tonight it was a lower turnout than it has been the last 4-5 months but still a nice atmosphere and he did another fine job. Myself and Colin Harris share a 10 minute spot as resident new material every month and this month we tried going first with it as an experiment but it seemed to work well enough; his theme of washing powder was turned into a string of puns on all the brand names, then Roger Swift followed with some new stuff which contained some gems that’ll I’ll for sure try incorporating in my new 10 set I’m constructing. Next was Danny James Clives who is a really hard worker, his set is improving each time I see him. He comes across as if he doesn’t know what he’s doing/making it up on the spot but I get that’s the whole idea. Closing the first section was Marshall B Anderson who won’t mind me saying I’ve seen his stuff at multiple gigs and I have seen it go both ways but tonight as I guessed he got a mature audience who were totally on his level and went with his ‘grumpy old man’ style of comedy flawlessly. Even got told by a few punters afterwards he was their favourite of the night.

Patrick Draper opened the middle section and he’s been coming every other month this year each time with completely new material as he tries to write his Edinburgh hour for this year and he has a Midas touch as everything he touches turns to gold he’s come so far with straight forward stuff, a bit about national stereotypes in graph form and tonight he rocked up with a guitar and gave us more new material which was already almost fully formed ending with his heavy metal rendition of 1,2,3,4,5 once I caught a fish alive (itself call backing to something in his previous material). Next up was Rachael Goldie Lloyd who had come along with headliner Phil, she had a lot of confidence and nice persona but her material needs work. Finally flipping that round was Ryan Brown who has some amazing one liners and lovely quirk of laughing at his own jokes but he’s always looking at his notes. Really needs to learn the gags and do it laid back confident Gary Delaney style and he would be amazingly good

Opening final section was the lovely hard working Jo D’Arcy who I’ve always said has a lovely likable stage presence and a lot of confidence. She was road testing out some new material which had some really good ideas she needs to work on some more but ended on her ‘speaking in Spanish’ bit though which is still my favourite bit of her material. Finally the gig ending on another experiment a paid headliner for the first ever time and what an excellent idea it proved to be. Philfy Phil had sent me his video and after viewing it I booked him believing it would work well in this room with this audience. I got a little nervous at very first wasn’t sure but couple of minutes in he had his feet under the table and once into the filthy and deprived areas including a song about necrophilia going down a storm with them and proved a great finish to the night. Shall be sticking with headliners at the end for the foreseeable future.

No standard club next month, instead 2 lots of Edinburgh preview shows on 7th & 21st July, standard club then returns on September 8th with headliner Al Rudge and what a show that’s going to be.

12/05/15: THE CROWN INN

First review I’ve written in a while, recently our Dawley venue has been put on hiatus for the time being meaning some of the regular punters from that one came over to this one instead plus all the regulars and more new faces meaning it was our highest ever turnout for this gig with every seat in the front room filled. 10 acts booked with an east midlands car full and a London car full both of whom had to replace some acts on the day. I don’t like to be a judgemental arse these days, which doesn’t mean I can’t be though. I’d be lying if I didn’t of course have my own criteria and what I personally think makes a good comedian/set of comedy material which I could use and make clear across each of the acts on any teknicolour smoof gig if I really wanted to but I like to think I’m open minded enough to see past what I think and see what punters like etc and at least have some idea of what I should re-book etc. So I’m not going to write out a judgemental review of each act this time I’ll spare them all my praise and/or wrath.

Tonight though it’s fair to say the star of the show was the compere Nick Clarke though, a regular compere of this gig because the crowd here love him and it’s a no brainer to have him as the compere as often as possible at this gig. Such a lovely likable man on and off stage that puts the crowd at ease. Rather blue with his material at times but here the like the blue/dirty stuff at this gig, because 4 of the acts were booked blind for this I didn’t realise I was going to have 10 acts with 4 of them being deadpan! Any gig like this needs something of a mixture of styles and the gig lacked someone with a bit of umph! or Energy (if they hadn’t all seen my standard set already I would have been a good one to inject the needed energy into this gig in truth….well me or Johnny Sorrow)

The London car full consisted of Nig Lovell, Si Deaves, Red Richardson and Simon Caine (Laughing Horse Finalist! – That generally means, they are not going to be shit to those in the industry) not gong to judge each act but will comment that Nig Lovell stood out the most of them because he’d done his homework with some material about the local area that played very well to this crowd. Alex Hylton did some new material with some nice ideas in it and Stoney Coleman (who runs FAF promotions comedy nights across the midlands) made his smoof debut but he tried doing his set deadpan tonight and it worked pretty well for him. (Just let down by the fact 4 of the 10 on were deadpan). I’d given Colin Harris an impossible topic of The voynich manuscript (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voynich_manuscript) for this show which he had turned into 8 minutes of material about the middle ages but kudos to him for getting something out of it all. Nigel Needham who had been a crowd favourite back in January was back again to try some new material and was asked to close the room this time and was the best choice for the job. 4th deadpan act of night but still the strongest and the best crowd pleaser it has to be said.

All in all it was a successful night, but it was a bit mundane in that virtually no-one bombed but no one came and stood out and took the roof off either but we sold 7 tickets on the way out from punters who wanted to come back so gig is a keeper and in good shape and will get better when we start having the paid closers and slightly fewer open spots from September onwards.

07/03/15: The Clive & Coffyne

This gig had come about in a some what unusual way but the landlord had contacted me about running a comedy night in Market Drayton a small town in North Shropshire about 18 miles from where I live. So went to see the venue and meet him. The pub was in the middle of the town and he had recently taken the place over but he insisted on it being on a Saturday night which I’ve always been against but it was a separate room he had round the back of the pub so decided it was worth a try. Budget really wasn’t much and he wanted it free entry but if proved a hit it was worth having but I decided against a low paid closer and to I’d just get the best ‘open’ 10 spots I could find who were free that night and just pay someone for light mc work. I started out with 11 acts, but ended up with 9 on the night. Upon arrival found something amazing the landlord had done his job right! He’d got posters up in the shops around the town; he had it on signs outside the pub and had spread the word virally. He’d also set up the PA and seats out in the room perfectly, I really couldn’t fault a single thing, even the lighting was right all I had to do was set up the banners and plug my net book into the system, set the camera up and we were ready to go. All we needed now was the acts and an audience. The acts all arrived one by one and eventually the first set of punters trickled in and then more of them, and more and more to the point we had run out of room and more chairs had to be brought in from the front bar and then the ones from outside as well! I mean it wasn’t all perfect as you’d expect the hassle of those people who wouldn’t sit at the front and we had people standing at the sides but it didn’t matter we had a rammed room of punters.

Billy Maguire was guest compere and this audience were there for a laugh and REALLY didn’t need much warming up he got them laughing pretty much off the bat and they understood the rules and what was expected of them at comedy. They wanted jokes and filth that was clear from the off so opening act Dave Pollard fitted the mood nicely. I’m not going write out in detail what each act does too much in this review but seriously has he improved so much in the few years since he started; now a teknicolour snoof regular I will never turn him down for gigs. At this point we lost a couple of guys sat near the back, maybe they had just come in killing time until their table for dinner was ready or before whatever else they had planned or maybe live comedy really wasn’t for them who knows (I’d guess the lata). Dave Tomlinson was next very with slow burning material which requires the audiences attention to work, good act and they liked the fifth when he drop the punch lines but they wanted punch lines quicker and faster. As expected about 6 o r 7people now decided for themselves this was time for a break but the rest of them were treated the bizarre and original comic creation that is Mystic Mike. Apparently this act can go either way but I’ve never seen him have a bad gig yet, he plays the part of a really bad physic if you’ve not seen it; tonight a few gags did miss but overall they bought into the concept and he had a great gig.

Now comes the panic as I think were going to loose people in the first break, it may have been one or two but not of them came back and Billy didn’t need to do much before we welcomed the first act of the section to the stage. Martin Hubburn who I have said before has come on in leaps and bounds recently and it wasn’t his best gig I’ve seen him have but he still had a pretty good one. Just saying the words “thieving gypos” caused a huge cheer, you could see this crowd’s level pretty easily. The lovely Jane Huxley was next who has always gone down really well at both The Crown & The Elephant & Castle, but I had her at my new Clun gig last week and it was much the same there as it was here tonight. She’s a great sweet likable story teller who’s great with those quieter more laid back lower energy audiences (I type that I always struggle bomb with) but just not one for the ‘never been to a live comedy gig before’ audiences. I love her stuff but they wanted jokes and filth tonight. Once again 6 or 7 people decided they were going to take their break now just as it was my turn. Roger Swift; now I can’t change the gags or the order of the gags but I can assess a room and adapt its pace pretty flawlessly now. It’s not big headed to say with an audience who’ve never been to comedy before then my act always goes down well (providing I’m not opening) as it takes them by surprise. Had the guys at the back of the room in tears so another great gig in the bag for me. Yippee.

Second and final break and as expected we lost about 20% of the audience but the ones who were left were then treated to BamBam Shaikh who put simply stole the show (well him and me) won’t go into details of what he does I’m sure those reading this will already know but he was exactly the right sort of act for this audience will be having him back again at the gig for sure. Ste Jones had a hard time following that and naturally audience were a bit comedy’ed out by this point anyway (less acts, format change next time but will come to that in a moment) one liners with no frills, not all gold but has his voice and delivery style are already in the can, just needs to write more jokes and do a bit of editing, audience tried by this point but still had a good gig. Finally James Hatley who I put last because he cannot keep to 10 minutes. When on form he’s one of those marmite comedians who can go either way or split a room clean down the middle tonight he was drunk and clearly hadn’t gigged in a while so slurred his material at the start but won it back with an ab-lib about the sign on the wall telling people not to shit on the pool table. When on form he’s belly laugh comedy genius (imo) but he was too all over the place to start with but had gotten back to grip by the end of his set (cat beard/flame thrower elvis) again though audience were also tried and comedy’ed out at the point.

Overall this was another huge success and landlord has ordered the gig monthly here on in. It’s a small town and nothing else is going on and it’s a separate room so it being on a Saturday is going to be better for getting a audience and full room turnout each time. However getting certain acts who are good enough to now be doing the weekend clubs coupled with Saturday being the day a lot of non-pro acts want to spend with family etc means it’s going to be harder to get stronger acts to do this one with ease, it’s a catch 22 situation for sure but landlord did agree to increase the very small budget a tiny bit for the future ones meaning I’m going to change it to 4/5 open 10’s and a low paid 15-20 minute closer (crown inn stays as the factory floor open mic night). Although I said I wouldn’t ever trying expanding the smoof empire again (and I’ve ended up dong exactly that) and said I’d never have a go a compering again either…….but given how this room is and what it’s clearly going to be like each time. I think I night now be able to get with compering this myself (SHOCK HORROR!) no “what do you do then” or “is this your wife” is ever going to be needed with this crowd just some intro music 2-3 minutes of puns at the top of the night to make em laugh, then fire though the acts (just a few more non-prop one liners in-between some of the acts) and I’m laughing. I think with this crowd I’ll be able to get away with it …he says until after next month when he changes his mind again!

Hopefully yet another monthly hit gig on my hand…ALTHO always got to remember the new inn, Newport where we filled it for three months then a month later 6 people, the 3 people then the audience never showed up at all again….. Always got to be a pessimist ain’t I ;p

25/02/15: The White Horse Inn

This gig had been several months in the making and to cut the back story as short as possible, whilst John was posting one of our regular comedy nights on facebook a friend of his (a landlord of a pub in Clun) spotted the post and asked him how he went about running such a night as he’d always wanted to try one out and thus put him in contact with me. I went out to meet Jack and see his pub in late November last year and agreed a start date and budget (far more than I had ever been given to run a gig before). It was a one roomed venue but oddly shaped so it broke off into different parts. So with this mind I blindly went ahead and lined up a complete night of comedians that were all to my own personal taste. No I didn’t do that because that would be stupid! thought about all the possible ways the gig could go, thought about what sort of audience it would be and decided to go for the best mix possible. It was to be Dave Dinsdale compering, Jon Wagstaffe as opening 20, Jane Huxley and myself as the middle 10’s and as it was mid-week and he was able to carpool with Dave I was able to book Andy White to headline (his Teknicolour Smoof debut!)

On the day before the gig John decided to have a night off and come along with me as a punter and watch the gig. Sadly just before we are planning to set off Wagstaffe had his car die on him so couldn’t make it, but Jon Pearson was able to fill in for him at the possible moment (what a life saver). Upon our arrival at the venue it was rammed, rammed with people out having an evening meal that is, no-one seemed to be there to see comedy. Jack wanted to set us up right in the main bar area (where a group of people were having a meal at the time) but John managed to convince him to put us down the long far end of the pub where the pool table usually is. Moved the pool table to one side made a make shift ”stage” out of two pieces of wood and brought in all the tables and chairs we could from the rest of the pub to make it into a makeshift ‘comedy club’. I had been told a PA would be provided for us but this hadn’t happened! fortunately I had had the foresight to bring my smoof box of bits with me so had a microphone and I also now keep a small guitar amp in the car at all times now just in case and this is what we had to use tonight. It was far from perfect but did the job well enough for this small room.

We waited, then we waited and waited and waited and waited and no audience showed up by 8:50pm still no audience, when Dinsdale started his usual ‘pre-comere’ compering material thing and suddenly a gang on 5 blokes came in and sat down (all-be-it as far away as they could get from the ‘stage’) with yet more onlookers stulking around at the bar watching from a far we started the night. Dave Dinsdale is a professional standard compere who would be professional if we wanted to be, but happy doing it as a hobby. Really I don’t have to explain what it is he does I’m sure we all know and he handled it as professionally as he could given the situation. Naturally the ”audience” we had at this point only gave us half of their attention trying to pull people away from their smart phone screens in any comedy club is an ever ongoing battle. Jon Pearson opened and given he’d recently played to about 300 people at the Leicester comedy festival performing to 5 punters (not counting the acts, john and jack the landlord) must have been a major comedown for him, but soon as he tried to material and reach to punch lines battered by a drunk heckler (the village drug dealer it seemed) this was where he was at his finest, ad-libbing away meant he didn’t need to do much material to fill his first 10 minutes but handled it like a true comedy professional, and was a fine opening 20.

After the first break we hadn’t gained any extra punters in the seating area BUT yet more ‘stulkers’ gathering at the back and dinsdale doing what dinsdale does best tried to inject life into the room with his higher/lower game which had some effect but really it was John and the other comedians leading the way with it. Jane Huxley was the first middle 10 here and she showed a lot of skill in dealing yet again with our local village drug dealer friend by taking him down pretty well for someone still very new to the comedy scene, when she went into her material she did ok, nothing wrong with her act or the material itself in any way but this lot weren’t rowdy per say but still had short attention spans so any more story teller based act would have had something of a struggle in this environment, but she did very well against what was facing her. Roger Swift was next who you will have heard of, the loud mad guy who throws dildos and toys around the stage? let’s just say it was exactly the right sort of act for the environment at the time as it blasted them and forced them into submission. I’d rank it a 7/10 from my point of view. Some misses (7 or 8) but when your doing 50 of them in 10 minutes, that’s still a good hit rate. I pulled more people in from the bar too, who wanted to see what this chaos was about.

Final section of the show and NOT MY WORDS A MERE QUOTE I HAVE NOW CUT & PASTED IN ‘Andy White was concerned about having to “Follow Roger Swift after he had stormed it.” ‘ Dinsdale shouted to the room at large that a professional comedian was about to perform for them and it worked in getting the sat down gang of blokes to move forward (finally) and yet more people to come and stulk in the standing area at the back as the headline act took to the stage. Andy White headlined and put simply (sorry for a hack reviewer type line now) tore the roof off for a solid 30 minutes and 20+ minutes of that was actual material too as we only spend about 7-8 minutes of it dealing the drug dealer who started heckling random points that had no relevance to the material andy was doing at the time. I don’t like to spoil or write out bits of acts actual material in these reviews ever but on a personal note his bit on the racist joke he once received from a mancunian which he then transitions into a piece on Nelson Mandela breaking out of prison is the highlight of his set. Also him explaining who Jimmy Saville was to the young-uns was magic. Put simply a professional comedian and rightly so and worth every penny what he got paid (and more) if you run pro night gigs he is a must book act and in terms of the standard, leaps and bounds above any of us mortals.

In summary it was a slow burner but we got there and it was a surprise overall success, Landlord loved it and gave me a verbal contract to run it monthly at least until June, so have a paid act gig for at least a few months with this one. It’s still going to take a while to build up and iron out all the bugs with it but think I’ve hopefully got another hit on my hands with this. I can already foresee though exactly the kind of acts that’ll work at this one and the ones that sadly won’t at this early stages so will have to be selective over who I book over the coming 3-4 months…..

Clun it’s a village that out in the middle of nowhere (literally) so …. well it’s a work in progress like anything else. Clun comedy club, last Wednesday of the month starts here though.

The elephant & castle: 30/01/15

Well the ”between xmas and new year” show was a total sell out and we were back with the first show of the new year and once again we filled the room out with 30+ advanced tickets sold and yet more came to pay on the door. Most of the regulars were in along with some new faces and this is how it went down. Billy Maguire had originally been booked to compere on boxing day but we ended up shifting the day of that gig and thus he was rebooked for this night with my blessing. I’ve tried my hardest to not stress myself over things like I once did at this gig and I’m getting there manage to stay much much cooler the whole time but as per usual late letting the punters in, late start (but only about 10 minutes or so tonight). It looked like it might be a cold night in terms of atmosphere at very first but was proved wrong about this after a few minutes as Billy did no banter and went straight into material but that was right for the room because he started to get the laughs early on, and hit the track running he made them laugh and wasted no time in getting the first act on after about 6 minutes or so. Paul Nightingale one of the newer acts whose been putting the leg work in and crafting his act. I’ve seen him when he’s been very confident and slick when doing really small rooms and open mic gigs but he had a packed room tonight and he was on first so this nerves obviously showed but he soon eased himself into it nicely. Nice material, very likable persona and pretty good delivery but as an act it’s just not as tight as it needs to be yet but more gigging will fix that. I wouldn’t book as a opener but I would recommend him for open mic and middle 10’s to everyone. I book acts for my open mic gig in Oakengates first then re-book ones who are ‘ready’ and right for it to do spots at this one. Martin Huburn came to oakengates last year and confess got the cross afterwards but came back to do it again in a few weeks ago and showed vast improvement over last time and got the tick this time and due to a previously book act dropping due to getting paid work a few days before, Martin jumped forward and made his debut at this tonight and was once again really on form. Very likable persona on stage with well timed and paced punch lines although his material tends to get very blue the more he goes on, if you’ve not heard his ‘love honey’ routine yet than you should really book him to hear it and the crowd warmed to it pretty fast as well (the newbie’s in the crowd had all had their seals broken now).

First up in the second section was Andrew Nightingale who said it was first gig (save co-compering at his own venues) in nearly 6 months although it didn’t really show that much as he really got into his swing and the crowd now well lubbed and clearly well up for a laugh, though he hasn’t really changed his material since I first saw him but his confidence, delivery and sheer likeability on stage has come on in leaps and bounds and had a great gig here with the crowd getting ahead on his call-back punch line at the very end of his set. Next was Theresa Farlow who became the first ever non-headlining act John had to trust my judgement on (as she did the oakengates gig on the only night he was away last year) and tonight she put simply was the ‘show stealer’. Although bit of a cold start but she very quickly got into her stride because she flawlessly managed to incorporate some of her material into some banter with a married couple sat close to the front and this is what brought the house down and totally won them all over big time and proved to be the literally perfect act for that room at that moment, if all goes to plan with my 2 new upcoming gigs shall be booking her for a paid 10 at those two no question and if you’ve not booked her for your gig yet, do it now.

Closing the gig tonight was Matthew Fong who recently went full time with the comedy. I had seen him at a gig in Blackpool last year and he then asked me for a spot so knew he’d be the perfect sort of act to close this gig and I was proven very right about that. Very professional, very likeable and he has a very tight, very slick and strong 25 minutes of material that’s clearly very adaptable to most rooms. Some great build ups and nice call backs. I would recommend him to others for opening 20’s.

Another great and successful night and they were lovely crowd who were totally up for a night of laughs and though he now have a bunch of regulars coming every time, still not enough repeat trade yet so once again hope the new ones come back next month because ‘word from the regulars at the bar is the last 3 nights have been the strongest lines up they’ve ever seen ”gone up 2 levels not one in terms of the quality”


The Crown Inn: 13/01/15

A new year and the first teknicolour smoof gig of 2015 and for the first time since moving it to a Tuesday 2 years ago we have ran it in January and thus didn’t know what to expect but a few days before the gig I was informed it was up to 29 tickets and we’d be in the front the room for it so this is how it went down. I never say no to act who wants an open spot I’ve not seen so this gig is already filled until may but as per normal drop outs on the day (No I won’t name and shame them). So all those folks I have to book 6 months ahead really need to try messaging me 2 hours before the gig because that’s when I need acts ;p but a last second plea meant I rounded up an extra act for the night at the eleventh hour and we had a show.

We had all of the regulars in tonight and then some. Guest compere was Dave Pollard (his 4th compering outing) and what a fantastic job he did of it because it needed to be material based instead of banter based for this crowd and he did a great job of incorporating local knowledge he had read up before hand at the start of the show. Well warmed up after about 10 minutes we had what is sometimes known as a the graveyard slot (but not tonight) up first was Marin Huburn who was really on form tonight. John described his stuff as ‘old skool’ and I’d agree with that and it’s not the best or strongest material I’ve ever heard but he has trimmed a lot of the fat away now and has a very nice delivery and he comes across as very likable, certainly got the audience on side here. Owen Morris was next up who again got the crowd on side; nice pacing and very confident on stage. His stuff is very laid back with some nice pull back & reveals and very well timed punch lines. It’s very good & composed for the first 5 minutes after which it did trail off a bit and needs some editing but a thumbs up overall and will rebook for dawley. Closing the first section was the act who’d braced the potential weather warnings and travelled the furthest Nigel Needam who is another character/concept act that you really have to buy into and give your full attention to reap the rewards. It’s really hard to review him without giving too much of his material away but its a super sour totally bone dry deadpan character which is kind of like the material concepts of Harry Hill but delivered in the style of Stephen Wright (for a lack of a better way of describing it) recurring themes, weird tangents of thought and completely random lines that wouldn’t be funny at all out of context of this act. Comedy marmite but totally genius if you buy into it and they REALLY bought into it here tonight, the regulars are really getting comedy savvy at this gig.

Second section begins with more of Dave Pollard really doing a fine job of compering and finding great ways of incorporating bits from his normal set into it. Ste Jones was first up in this bit who I’ve gigged with a lot and though hasn’t changed the material the delivery of it gets better every time I see him. One Liners delivered in a cross between straight and deadpan but has a great way of beginning his set so that you don’t think he’s going to be a one-liner comedian to begin with. There not all gold of course but some really good ones in there, he needs to keep writing more. Next up was the first outing of what is to be a new monthly feature of the gig this year; brand new material from Colin Harris and myself (blocked together as 1x 10 minute spot) Colin Harris first up with a surprising good and well constructed set (considering it was all completely new) don’t like to give peoples material away too much in these so can’t go into more detail here but he had some keeper material in there for sure. Next was Roger Swift (that’s me) opening with 5 new prop puns (all ticks) then read from my clipboard of all my recent facebook statues, which I’m saying out loud to an audience for the first time, then had a few new picture puns to end on. I will always have to do this new stuff more straight (far less energy & rhythm than my normal act) but all but one of them got ticks here tonight; meaning they got laughs and/or groans. What then followed was Dave Pollard doing his ‘Roger Swift – Tribute’ routine which his him doing his own version of me which is near perfect in every detail complete with bright Hawaiian shirt, homemade props and unstoppable energy which given 50-60% of the audience who were there were familiar with it and had only been reminded of it a month before it went down an absolutely storm (just lost it’s pacing for a second whilst he tried to dig out a misplaced prop) a well placed break then followed.

In the final section we began with Toni Mullider a local lady on only her second ever gig and I’m going cut the pleasantries for a moment and be totally honest and blunt about something here. She did something what a lot of first/second timers never do; she didn’t go on and bore the audience to death for 15 minutes with tomes of material they’d pre-visualised in their minds as all being brilliant and being in a total bubble when doing it completely unaware of how much they are literally boring the audience to death. To be clear too many do it (BECAUSE I DID IT MY FIRST TIME) but she didn’t!!! she kept it lovely, short and sweet with a piece where she was comparing Monica Lewinsky scandal to the modern UK political landscape, as you’d expect her nerves showed but we all start off somewhere. Top marks for effort. Chris Shaw local guy from Shrewsbury was next who is a nice guy off stage and really enthusiastic but I will be blunt about him as well and say sorry but it’s just a incomprehensible miss mass hodge podge of loopy ideas with absolutely no structure or focus as it stands. He has informed me that he is going to do a comedy course and that’s for the better because my honest advice to him is that his current approach is not working , so start again from scratch and try going for a much more straight forward style and go from there. Final act of the night was Ben Powell who stepped into this gig at the last moment. Nice fella who has some really good material that’s very intelligent and very original and he’s got an absolutely killer call back near the end but he does needs better pacing and the material needs editing but lots of potential and will be booking him again.

Great gig to kick the year off, be nice if we could get this many punters in every mouth because the regulars get confused why it’s in one room one more and another the next. If the attendance varies like it currently always does then that just can’t be helped.

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