We were due to be at a triumvirate of gigs this weekend, with Hal Cruttenden due to cap the weekend, but due to illness his Sunday gig was called off a couple of days before. We were still in for a treat.
Friday’s lineup was advertised as Zoe Lyons, Tim O’Connor, Luke Graves and Garrett Millerick. Luke Graves pulled out at the last minute and so we had Chris Mayo added as opener and another middle act of Simon Hillyard. Garrett has become very familiar to us over the last few months and this was the fourth time we had caught him. This time we were seeing him MC for the first time and a very fine job he did again. With the required audience build up and his familiar stories, which we love, he has a very distinctive style and has received a superb reaction every time we have seen him. Opener Chris Mayo, was new to us, and was a very solid performer indeed, very confident delivery, excellent crowd interaction, a very polished performer already.
Into a break and the second section of the show, which was the two open mic spots. First up, Tim O’Connor who seemed to do very well in front of what must have been a big crowd for him. However, despite being sat at the front of the big hall, we struggled to see his A4 pictures, and visual humour does depend on being able to see, so this section left the audience a bit flat. We are due to see Tim in Horrabridge at the end of February, then Plymouth at the beginning of March so we will hold off judgement until then.
The second act of this section was very well known to us, Simon Hillyard, who we have seen/met lots of times over the last year. He is a nice bloke, but really does not have an act. The last time we saw him, he played Top Trumps with a member of the audience for his 10 minutes. it was not comedy, as there was no thought to anything else with it. So then he died on stage and earnt the number 2 spot in our worst acts of 2012 (with 142 shows seen – that was how bad it was, though it seems he would find this an ‘achievement’). Tonight he opened by putting on a Lidl equivalent of a Slendertone belt and then occasionally saying Ow, feigning electrocution. He then pulled out a punter for Top Trumps which lasted a couple of minutes in Simon being beaten. he had no contingency for this, or for the stunned silence of the audience, apart from the occasional call for him to ‘do some comedy’. Apart from that he swore at some audience members and then finally snuck off the stage to no applause. It was a comedy death of epic purportions, showing a total lack of entertainment. He single-handedly put a big void in the night, maybe between the E & D in comedy. “COME DY” would be a very good motto for Simon, and we suggest he has a serious think before he inflicts this drivel on anyone else who has paid for the privilege.
And so it was up to Zoe Lyons, to bring things back on track. And she did so with what seemed total ease. A succession of mundane observations, made into hilarious absurdities, with hilarious facial expressions, and voices. She milked the crowd and they loved it, and it was easy to see why she is so high up the comedy ladder right now, a performer on top of her game. A well deserved encore and rapturous applause.
Anagrams (Zoe Lyons – Oozy Lens, Garrett Millerick – Larger clit Kermit, Tim O’Connor – Moron tonic, Chris Mayo – Oh i’m scary!, Simon Hillyard – I’m silly hard-on)
A 5/5 night brought down a point single handedly by Simon so 4/5.
Saturday we went the other direction down to the Hall for Cornwall for the superb Chris Addison. (I spoke to Chris after the gig and pointed out my rather good anagram of his name ‘Sordid Cash-in’ – he was really pleased to find this out, and you never know, this could be the title of his next tour?).
This was however, no cash-in, Chris overran by 20 minutes and did a show over 2 hours, which stayed fresh throughout. With lots of local references, and slagging off Plymouth, this was a razor sharp comic brain, with a host of subjects. His political takes being particularly sharp as well as his audience interactions. This was as good as it gets, and has set down an early marker for best show of the year.