22nd May: Robin Ince – 24th May: The Boy With Tape On His Face

Robin Ince – The Importance of being Interested, The Old Chapel, Calstock Arts Centre

We have rarely had a week where we have gone to shows at such diametric ends of the comedy spectrum. First up our first encounter with  Robin Ince (Ironic Ben), possibly the best known scientific/atheist comic in the country. This was highbrow comedy, with tales of Darwin, Feynman with a touch of Dawkins. All absorbing and engaging and with an onscreen accompaniment of slides to heighten the experience.  This show had a big message, nothing new, but presented with humour. You only have one life, use it and revel in the wondrousness of it. The Naked Mole Rat, The Blob Fish, The Sponge Crab – all examples of the wonders of life. This was one of our highlights of an already magnificent year of comedy.

And it is worth mentioning the backdrop of a really unusual room, with its view over the Tamar and Calstock Viaduct. Before the sun went down it was another example of the wonders of the world. We had the chance to talk to Robin after the show, and he was as engaging off stage as on, totally enthusiastic about everything. The show was well over two hours and we loved every minute.

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The Boy With Tape On His Face , Plough Arts Centre, Great Torrington

Anagram –  liberties taken with spelling of Bet! (Bette Each Way, Photo Finish)

Two days on from one magnificent show and we made quite a long trip up to great Torrington, for what was a cathartic show for us. We were due to see this show as the highlight of our last night in Edinburgh last year. Carole misplaced her phone and we missed our last three shows of the Fringe backtracking looking for it. So we were nine months late catching this show. And with the hype, rave reviews, and awards it has received over the last year, we were licking our lips.

Firstly a mention of the venue itself it was, like Calstock, absolutely lovely. Great welcoming staff, a lovely bar with some great real ale (not expensive for an Arts Centre), and a nice looking menu which we will definitely try next time.

An added bonus tonight was a support act, and how we laughed when we found out, when he came out on stage, that it was young Kiwi Rhys Mathewson (Ah! Why Monsters), who we have seen three times already this year. He has jazzed up his image, with a proper shirt and a face defining beard.

It was really good to see him on a proper stage instead on a tiny space in various pubs. We liked him before but this time he really raised it a few levels. Some material we had not seen before, on clothes shopping , was good and the rest of his material was enthusiastically received and his Macdonalds / Haka routine was fantastic in a proper setting. We are now really looking forward to catching him at the Fringe this year, though we think he is already sick of the sight of us! (Pleasance Courtyard – 7:15pm). See you on the 24th August Rhys (Carole’s umpteenth birthday).

And so to the main reason we were here Sam Wills aka The Boy With Tape On His Face. An act so different to everything else we have seen this year. As suggested by the title, this is a silent show, with Sam having tape covering his mouth for the entire show. But it is something special, magical. A succession of audience members are pulled out to take part in various skits. Part of the fun, is when they don’t get what they are supposed to be doing and particularly illustrated by the guy who was playing a Star Wars character with a light sabre (metal tape measure).  Another huge element is the way Sam weaves a miraculous tapestry with such mundane objects. Everyone gets sucked in and feels part of the journey. Before, we went Carole was fearful this show was going to be pretentious, but far from it, this was the greatest single hour we have had the pleasure to see. Nine months late, but worth the wait. If you haven’t seen it already, please do, before you are too late. On tour now and at the Fringe in August.

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