Nobody’s on the slippery slope here!
The Ski Lodge was full, the food and drink was flowing and everyone was up for a good night. We started on time and our MC Ben Harrington came bouncing on to the floor area, high fiving people as he went. Smily and performing his warm-up role nicely (although he almost didn’t need to; the audience was ripe to be entertained) he got them responding nicely to his opening moves. Nothing here to get offended at, and the almost obligatory practice applause for Team A, Team B, and Dave getting his own Team C for loudness (both of laugh and for shirt!). We were a little divided on our opinions of Ben’s material but as an MC, he got the job done, no doubt.
Our opener Mat Ewins was in full “getting the audience to participate” mode, getting one crowd member then another to use his hi tech camera to film him as he went along. We had a good interactive censorship gag (not giving anything away) and just as Eskimos have a hundred words for snow, so did Mat try to describe them in his own original style. Mat gave us a short taster of what he’ll be up to in Edinburgh next month with a very surreal impersonation of one of our most famous mediaeval monarchs with accompanying homemade costume and song. I don’t think some of the audience knew what to make of it but, liking our surrealism, we found it hilarious. (Dave: Mat is at the Pleasance Courtyard at 22:45 – we will be seeing him on 24th August – the last show on Carole’s birthday)
After a break, we had our three short middle acts, all of whom we’d seen before, but all good hard working comedians…and nobody standing out as weak.
First up, Chris Tavner. Chris has a definite look, something that is always great for the stage and gives us his opening lines based on that. The comedy audience likes a guy who can poke fun at himself and he had us well hooked within a minute or two. The well known, one, two, three and there’s the punchline, this time involving kittens had us at first laughing then being kept in suspense for the climax, because we know something bad is coming, it’s just a matter of when. A confident comic, Chris promised a good time and delivered. (Dave: We liked Chris when he MC’d at the sadly missed Leaping Salmon last year. He is also at Edinburgh at the Free Sisters with ‘Real Men Have beards’ starting at 1am – He will be the first show of Carole’s birthday).
Our next comedian, Graham Whistler, came onto the floor and launched straight in with his main theme, his disability. Graham, like another comedian we’d seen recently, has Cerebral Palsy and uses it in his act to good effect. He pokes a little fun at the audience as tax payers (my benefits are great!) and tells us about how he was great at rugby because no-one was allowed to tackle him…there’s plenty more in that line, and a nice little call back at the end re yet another performer with CP. He is likeable and still very young… plenty of time to develop more material on other themes too.
Our last middle section act, Geraint Evans, waiflike thin, with longish hair and a strong Welsh accent, gave us a strong little section partly based around his sex life. We learned about his sexual prowess (or lack of!) and about the delights of the VD clinic. Sex is always a funny subject, and Geraint’s self-deprecating style definitely went down well with the Plymouth audience.
Another break and then on with our headliner…Yianni. We’d seen him just two days before doing his Edinburgh preview (see the previous entry) and were hoping for a better
audience reaction to different material. He gave us background on his ethnicity (Cypriot/Australian), his family and his body hair! There was lots of adlibbing and off material jokes…Yianni is an expert at this and won’t give in until he gets what he wants from the crowd. Holding conversations with himself in multiple accents (despite telling us he only had four voices) had us in stitches. Then we’d get to some scripted stuff, then more winging it…much going off at tangents, then back to the same sentence starter…he must have moved to the UK about ten times to become a comedian! It takes a confidence and assurance to do this, to bring the audience back again and again, waiting for the story, and this man can do the business. Roll on the Fringe and Yianni’s big venue.
All in all one of the best clubs shows we have been to all year, a belter of a crowd, comedians all at the top of their game. If it continues like this it will be by far the best monthly night in Plymouth.
(Dave: Anagrams for the night. Ben Harrington – Nothing Barren, Mat Ewins – Wins meat, Yianni Agisilaou – Nay Again Louis II, Chris Tavner – River Chants, Graham Whistler – Whale Mirth Rags, Geraint Evans – Avenges train)