Hot off stage, even hotter on.
(Anagrams: Chris Brooker – Rob His Rocker, Gareth Berliner – Angrier Blether, Harriet Dyer – Hardier Tyre, Mickey D – KY Medic)
Another jaunt up to Totnes for what has consistently proven to be the best gig we go to outside of Plymouth. During the hottest week most people can remember we did wonder what the size of the crowd would be, and were pleasantly surprised that it was very healthy indeed, bearing in mind both the weather and the fact this is a midweek gig.
With the exception of host Chris Brooker, who books fantastic acts both here and at the Plymouth Comedy Club, all of the acts tonight were Birmingham based though none have their origins there. More of that later. We have reported many times, that we think Chris is one of the best hosts of a comedy night going. He certainly stands head and shoulders above others at gigs in the area.
Tonight he did exactly what was expected as MC, chatted a bit about himself and a lot to the audience, especially tonight to front rowers Debbie and Rich who were there together despite being divorced making them an easy target for probing, and probe he did, unpeeling the fact that they now lived together again and other juicy tidbits. One of the interesting bits of having a regular host is that they can give life status updates which can often make you feel more involved, even if they are made up (are they?). Last time Chris was in Burnham-on-Sea back with his parents. This time he has moved to a bedsit in Salford which is so small he rolls over in bed and bangs his head on the cooker.
And so onto our first act, the terrific Gareth Berliner. A very interesting chap both off and on stage. A real dry style in many ways and you can see by the way his eyes are going that he is judging the crowd and going in different ways based on how they react, a point he made at the end of his set. He oringinally hails from Camden in London which provided some of his eclectic material, as did bullying via facebook and how his girlfriend liked to be wooed. Gareth is now married to the actress, writer and comedienne Kiruna Stammell. She features in the act quite heavily due to the fact she is 3ft tall. Though it is clear from the material, there is a huge bond between them. At one point Gareth also showed us his catheter a result of Crohn’s disease. Really interesting set and we will look forward to seeing Gareth and Kiruna’s new show at Edinburgh in 2014 (if not before).
Our second act was Harriet Dyer, originally hailing from Cornwall and still with the unmistakeable Cornish twang in her voice. We had seen her before, Edinburgh 2012 at her late night show at Espionage. That show came immediately after the notorious ‘Wankgate’ incident featuring Jeff Leach and Bob Slayer and most of the crowd then stayed for the show after. And to be honest I think we were all still too traumatised about what we had just seen to pay much attention to the next show. So tonight, we were to be very pleasantly surprised. Harriet is tall and very thin. Something she makes a lot of references to during her set ‘No, I am not a Polish lesbian’, and being so daddy-long-legged her mum had to get her out of the house by putting a glass over her. The material was good and varied with peeing at festivals, sex with a celebrity, drugs, and crustaceans. But where Harriet stood out was in her mannerisms and expressions, I thought there was a touch of Kenneth Williams and Frankie Howerd, and kept expecting her to say ‘Oh Matron’. Carole didnt fully agree. But what we did agree on was that we enjoyed her tonight, a lot. We have the late night show at Edinburgh on our schedule again, so will be seeing her again on 15th August at Midnight Madness at Espionage 12:15am. (She is also doing an afternoon show at 3:45pm at Espionage with Freddie Farrell).
Our final act of the night, was the Aussie Mickey D. A real class act, award winner down under and here, and who has featured on TV in both countries. He told tales of Adelaide life, Scottish hecklers, Married life and single life with a great bit about folding duvets. How he has learnt to say sorry all the time to his wife and the consequences of getting complacent about it. A Thailand holiday featured, as did accents, and what to do with a doughnut when hungover. And his routine about cats was just superb as was his one about his dad heckling him. Again what stood out though was not the material, but the delivery, a man who knew exactly where to pause or laugh at himself to get more laughs. It is hard to describe how good he was. We read he was one of the most asked back acts in the country, and it was easy to see why. At one point Carole was in tears and we were both snorting, which drew his attention. Brilliant. We are looking forward to watching his DVD and seeing him again in the future.
Another triumphal night. By far the best comedy night in Totnes. This is a night for people who love comedy, run by people who love comedy. Long may it continue.