After all the treats of this year already there had to be a comedown and this was it. This was a sellout night at the Lodge for the first time in quite some time, so it promised to be a great atmosphere. A lot of the extra crowd were friends and family of headliner Danny Ward, local lad, with a huge amount of talent. But the other big party were a bunch of women, out celebrating the 50th Birthday of ‘Rita’ supposedly a teacher from Stoke Damerel school in Plymouth. I don’t know if the rest of them were from there too, but if so, god help the kids. A few years ago, I used to run large scale big screen comedy nights, and Stoke Damerel was a client of mine, and I know from experience how these so called responsible figures behaved when no pupils around. This group forgot the first rule of comedy, which was that you can be as loud as you want, during the intervals etc. But while the comedy is on, laugh (if you find it funny) but don’t spend all of your time having private conversations, often shouting across tables, so that none of the rest of the audience, or comedians could hear anything other than them. If it was a cinema or theatre, they would have been asked to leave. It is not the first time, it has happened at this venue, the only one in the local area doing comedy over the weekend apart from the Leaping Salmon, which has a very different clientele and setting. As I have pointed out to the management, a lot of big weekend comedy clubs, do not let big groups in without them signing a behaviour bond with a deposit to stop this kind of behaviour.
So, with this backdrop it was almost inevitable the comedy was not going to be as good as it would be in a better atmosphere.
Our MC for the night was the wonderful Australian Matt Dwyer, who we have seen many times before. Matt is a very funny guy, but tonight, after a 5 hour drive from London arriving a few minutes before he was due on, he was immediately confronted with what he had to work with. And it was hard work, 2/3 of the crowd were up for it, but Rita and her crones were only interested in themselves, and despite attempts to gently cajole them into behaving, they wouldn’t. The night was pretty much lost before it had started, but nothing was going to work here.
Opener ‘Wayne the Weird’ is very funny, a comedy magician, with some bizarre tricks and groanworthy one-liners. he made a valiant attempt above the noise. He lives up to his name – the ‘weird’ bit. Having seen him before, we really like his act, being different, but it was a struggle in this atmosphere. His ending though was really funny and terrifying all at once (see the picture below). It could be a sign of what is to come next month when the master Ian Cognito headlines!
Into a break, where the management were telling the ‘ladies’ (used very ‘loosely’) to behave. And then into the middle section where some up and coming acts are given a ten minute spot. First up Zahra Barri who, being softly spoken, was always up against it with the naughty table drowning her out. Some nice material, which unfortunately, was missed by a lot of the audience, we will look forward to seeing her again where we can properly appreciate her act.
Zahra was followed by Jake Baker, only doing his 7th gig, again always going to be struggling here. Softer spoken than Zahra, he struggled to make any impression and with a lot of his act being different versions of the Bourne films it was always going to be difficult to connect with all of the crowd. Still plenty of promise, and time on his side.
Third up was Louis Burgess, one of the bookers of the gig, who was replacing another of the acts who couldn’t make it. He does some excellent musical comedy, and we have seen him wow crowds on quite a few occasions, but tonight even he struggled, and he was clearly bemused when songs that usually went down well, got virtually nothing.
The most memorable bit of this whole middle section was when Matt did one of his introductions. He asked where the ski slope was and then looked a right twat (appropriate when his name is an anagram of My Red Twat), when it was pointed out that if he turned 180 degrees he could see a huge ski slope out of the window behind him.
Another break and then Matt introduced the headliner, local lad, Danny Ward. For all our comedy, this was our first encounter with Danny. And he really delivered, with a beautifully crafted set, with plenty of build ups, absurdities and callbacks. With a lot of friends and family there, he had enough support to rise above the private party in the back of the room. Even so, he was still halted in his tracks by the pseudo-chavs in the back on a couple of occasions. He was, nonetheless, a great end to a night otherwise only memorable for the wrong reasons.
For us this was a 1/5 for the night as a whole, 3/5 for the comedy (with Danny significantly pulling the average up). And to Rita and her friends, thanks for ruining the night for everyone else ‘*&£% you’ and do us a favour and don’t come back.
Danny Ward – Randy Wand / Wayne the Weird – A wintery dew, eh? / Matt Dwyer – My Red Twat / Jake Baker – Bake a jerk / Louis Burgess – I use slugs bro / Zahra Rebecca Esther Barri – Bizarre Serb car heartache