19th July – Wardrobe Theatre, Bristol

A pre Edinburgh treat

Back in April we went to Bristol for my 50th Birthday which we spent with Pat Monahan at the Hen & Chickens. Straight after that we planned this weekend for a pre-Edinburgh treat fully intending to spend 2 nights at the Hen & Chickens at their excellent series of shows the Bristol Brou Ha Ha. We booked a cheap hotel then, a £28 Travelodge and then realised this weekend clashed with the excellent Plymouth Comedy Club. At the time we decided to forgo the hotel and stay at home, then we decided we would go to Bristol for the evening and then do the Plymouth show at its second Saturday showing. When I found the Wardrobe was doing an excellent series of Edinburgh previews we booked for this night expecting to see Lloyd Langford and another yet to be named act. Lloyd was then pulled and we waited over a month to find he was being replaced with Mat Ewins and finally the day before when we booked a table for food we were delighted to find out that the special guest tonight was to be one of my absolute favourites, the superb Jon Richardson.

So, while b0th the acts were a surprise to us, we turned up to the venue and the first person we saw was Geraint Evans who had performed for us at Plymouth Ski Lodge two weeks previously. A bill opened by Mat Ewins. So there were feelings of Deja Vu. It is also worth mentioning that we had visited this venue once before, on my 49th Birthday. That night we had our first meeting with the excellent Jon Wagstaffe, and the night was headlined by the surreal but sublime Sam Fletcher, who went on to be nominated for best newcomer at last years Edinburgh Fringe. This is an excellent venue, and the shows here are never more than £5.

I digress.

The room itself was sold out tonight with word of mouth having let people know who the surprise guest was. And the only drawback to the night was that this was the hottest room we had ever been in for comedy. With all the windows shut to stop noise coming in, it was quite literally like a sauna. We had some of our friends from Bristol with us, Mario who has been to quite a few comedy shows now, and Viv and Gill for whom this was their first ever night despite them both being retired!

And so onto our opening act, Mat Ewins, previewing his Edinburgh Show ‘Once Upon A Time In The Jest’. The show purports to chart the history of comedy with a series of videos and then Mat doing stand up as various characters from history. With Mat claiming to be a historical comedian, our friend Viv delivered a heckle only to be put back in his box 🙂 Mat’s first character was Cleopatra which I found hilarious but a few people in the audience appeared not to get. He followed this with a change into Henry VIII helped by his impromptu dresser, our mate Mario. Next he did a skit as Peter Da Vinci (Leonardo’s brother) dressed as the Vitruvian man, a costume put together by the audience in a participation segment. Finally, he was a space rocket replete with colander on his head. Carole and I found this all wonderfully surreal, but then we are massive fans of this kind of humour as our Tony Law fetish goes to prove. It did seem large portions of the rest of the audience didn’t get it. Our friends said they had trouble hearing what was being said, and also thought a couple of the jokes were just too niche for an average audience. Carole and I will be looking forward to seeing the full show again in all its finished glory at Edinburgh on her birthday, August 24th, 10:45, Pleasance Courtyard.

Everybody welcomed an extended break due to the heat. Then on came Jon Richardson, one of my absolute favourite comics (I know I already said that once). This is probably due to the fact I have so many OCD traits myself, his humour rings so many bells. This was a very early preview of what will be a UK tour in 2014. But apart from a few looks at notes, this was very polished stuff. Jon has such a unique delivery, and is so natural this was already as good as almost everything else we have seen this year. He also has some fine accents in his repertoire. We loved everything from start to finish, as did our friends. And we reckon his tour next year will catapult him to the very top of the comedy ladder. His tales of train journeys, and stag dos in Oklahoma are already winners. And I don’t think there was a single thing we could say was not funny.

Like so many people we have met this year, Jon and Mat were more than happy to have a chat. I had a chat with Jon about his past days when he performed in Plymouth at Club Fandango. It was a real pleasure to be there. Value for money this was number one this year at a mere £5 a ticket.

Anagrams Mat Ewins – Mensa Wit, Jon Richardson – Cornish Jordan.



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