1st March – Ski Lodge.
We were interested to see how this night would go following last month when a bunch of teachers ruined it for everyone else. Right off we found out that the numbers were lower than at any point since last summer when the gig fell at the start of a bank holiday weekend. So from that perspective it was a slightly hollow atmosphere. It was a good looking line-up and our host for the night was the Glaswegian Larry Dean. We have seen him many times before and he is an accomplished veteran of the club circuit despite his young years and looking about twelve. He manages to drag a laugh out of everyone and so got the night off to a great start before bringing on opener Ric Wharton, a slightly deadpan Geordie with lots of clever wordplay. The middle acts tonight had a total of less than ten gigs between them, but you couldn’t tell as they both put in very solid stints. Firstly youngster, Luke O’Neill, who mentioned me in his opening, a bold move for someone I had not met before! His set was slightly geeky but very good. Loads of promise.Second up, Sandi Smith, a bit older, and with a set focusing on her hate of her children and other middle-aged angst. Perfect for old farts like Carole and I!
Onto our headliner, one of the legends on the circuit, the unique Ian Cognito. A comedian, who constantly challenges the audience. Should I laugh at that or not? Ultimately he forces the audience to look inside themselves. A breakneck 30/40 minutes from a guy who would be huge if he sucked up to the comedy powers that be. But Ian, says and does what he wants and comedy is better for having people like him around rather than the multitude of, as Paul B Edwards puts it in song, ‘Prancing Russells’ all trying to copy the stars of today rather than forging their own identities. Long may he continue.
Sandi Smith (Hit and Miss) / Luke O’Neill (Unkle Ollie) / Ric Wharton (Narrow itch) / Larry Dean (Anal Dryer) / Ian Cognito (I, Contagion)(Go, Anti-Icon)
A fab night 4.5/5
2nd March – Totnes Studio Lounge
Another sell-out at the Studio Lounge. Three acts we have seen before, though two were a long time ago. First up our MC Kim Hope. An Aussie dynamo, new to us, who was flaky, wacky, pulled faces and had the crowd with her all the way. Very good indeed and we get to see her again this month at Annabels, where she will be opening. Opening tonight, though, was Jim Campbell, who last time we saw him was fairly unmemorable. With the extra experience he has developed into a very good opener indeed, with a nice stage presence and confidence. Middle act was Will Scrambler, who we saw last June at Raw in Exeter. Another young lad who has improved lots since the last time we saw him. Finally, headliner Mickey Sharma, who we only saw nine days previous in Plymouth. So nothing new for us tonight, but again, he put in an engaging intelligent set. This was somewhat spoiled by constant interruptions from one girl in particular in the front row, which kept breaking his flow, and stopped the continuity of what is a fantastic set.
A really good night in a venue which keeps going from strength to strength. 4.5/5
Kim Hope (Poke Him) / Jim Campbell (Lame Limp JCB) / Will Scrambler (LBW Caller Rims) / Mickey Sharma (My Hacker Aims)