Larry Dean – Randy Earl; Jim Campbell – Limp Male JCB; Alexander Miles – Melinda Relaxes; Stuart Black – Blu-tack Star
Persuaded by the fact that there were going to be three acts out of five at this gig that we hadn’t seen before, we set off, Brixham bound, to a new venue for us, The Lytehouse. In the end a female act dropped out so we were down to just two new faces.
Stopping off in Totnes, eventually we found ourselves using mobile phone, satnav technology and shoeleather to track down our venue, a small intimate little cafe with a raised area at the rear in the middle of the town. Having sorted out our tickets, we headed off to have a quick look around Brixham and get some dinner before returning to settle ourselves on a very comfy front row sofa on the small raised area at the back of the cafe where the mic had been set up.
The night was sold out, the rest of the audience in tables of four, six or more and most seemed to know each other. We felt a little bit conspicuous at the front but seeing as we knew the MC, Larry Dean, we were fairly confident of not having too hard a time for front rowers.
Eventually, at a few minutes past eight, we got off to a good start with Larry being his usual jovial Glaswegian self. Young, but confident beyond his years, Larry had questions for lots of the audience, finding out about them and their jobs and where they came from. Larry is a funny guy, and although we have seen several times now, he never fails to make us laugh.
Our opener for the night, Jim Campbell, we had seen earlier this year at the B-Bar in Plymouth (and last year at another venue) so we were fairly sure what we could expect and Jim didn’t disappoint.
He is a good opening act, personable, amusing, telling us about his age, his girlfriend, clever tricks with his genitals (!) and has a neat little goodbye line which we’ve heard a few times now but it always gets a laugh of surprised recognition from his punters. He got a good enough response without blowing the roof off.
So to Larry who introduced us, without anymore ado, to our second act Alexander Miles. We had had a few words with Alexander before the start of the show and he seemed genial enough, and as a new act to us, we were ready to be entertained.
What followed was not entertaining and, unfortunately, we think was quite possibly the worst, most embarrassing thing we have ever seen on a comedy stage. We have seen comics dry up, we have seen comics who are not funny, and we have seen comics who have nasty material but Alexander dried, then died with his “gags”, and then revived briefly, only to die again.
Continually semi apologising for himself and going off at tangents, unfinished rambling sentences leaving us … hanging, some of the audience, ourselves included, were hoping he was somehow going to pull his act back – he didn’t. Telling us that his jokes when he had them were “shit hot”, the few bits of material he did manage to remember were sexist, hate filled and there was even the almost inevitable rape joke. The mostly middle class and middle aged audience were not finding him the least bit amusing, some people got up to go out for a smoke, or just to get away from the painfulness of it all and Alexander had absolutely nothing else to give us. Eventually he admitted defeat and left the stage, the venue, and disappeared into the dusk! He is scheduled to be at Plymouth B-Bar on 4th September. If they don’t replace him, we certainly will not be there. And I suspect with that more rowdy audience, he will be lynched.
It was left to our MC, Larry to get on stage quickly and try to rescue the evening for the headliner, which, give him his due, he did. He had the audience eating out of his hand within a few minutes, and somehow dragged the energy back up, leading us into the break with a dinosaur impression that had US roaring!
And so to our headliner, Stuart Black. Very slim and of medium height with floppy brown hair, Stuart looks very mild and meek. He is however, a whole lot sharper and more observant than your average comic.
This was an Edinburgh preview, and although there is still a bit more material needed to make a full Edinburgh hour, what he had was very good, and Stuart soon knew which bits he wouldn’t be using, although to be fair there weren’t many of his lines that didn’t raise a laugh. A group of merry younger women in a middle table in the cafe were crying with laughter, especially one in particular who went off into several bouts of hysterics at Stuart’s impersonations of various bodily tics and noises and he had to tell her to “breathe” several times…setting off the rest of the audience as well.
With cynical Londoner references to tourists from America, and people with Henry Hoover faces (“big smiles up front but loads of dust covered shit whirling around at the back”) Stuart knows how to, in a totally unassuming way, get hold of an audience and keep them held. We certainly needed him to raise the total standard of the night after our sub zero middle section and he delivered in spades. Good luck to him in Edinburgh, you can find him at the Meadow Bar 6:15pm August 1st-25th.
Jim, Larry, Stuart, Alexander