25th July – River Exe Cafe

Go with the flow… 

Benny Boot – No Bent Boy, Danny Ward – Randy Wand, Dan Thomas – Atom Hands, Andrew Watts – A New Dr Twats (His own anagram), Marcus Gill – Gull Racism

Because of its logistics this is the first time we have been able to go to this night. You have to get to Exmouth Marina by 6:30 pm to catch the boat to the venue. If not, and you don’t have your own boat, you don’t go. With Carole working in Cornwall until 5pm the only chance of us getting there is in July and August when her school is on Summer holidays. It was also very hard and frustrating to get tickets. Being told over and over they would be on sale on a certain date to find that date pushed back. It took five phone calls in the end.

Still it was a beautiful sunny day and we managed to make it with fifteen minutes to spare. Then everyone got herded onto a boat with not quite enough seats for everyone and we set off on the short voyage to the venue, a floating café right in the middle of the River Exe. It was a beautiful trip and approaching the café reminded me of a similar trip along the rivers of Bangkok seeing the huts that people lived in on the river. The big difference being the obvious trappings of wealth evident here in Exmouth with the speedboats, yachts and riverside apartments in view all the way.

We arrived and our pre-ordered drinks were waiting for us – a pitcher of cider for Carole (which she could not finish despite giving a pint of it away to one of the comics). Lap food was available. We ordered the mini fish and chips, which lived up to its name, delicious but hardly a meal. And there was very little time to finish eating before the comedy started at 7:30. Still, we were very chilled out and having a lovely time catching up with the comics, all of whom we had seen before with the exception of our headliner.

Dan Thomas was MC’ing tonight – the first time we had seen him in this role. The last time our paths had crossed was at Annabel’s in Plymouth where he stood out on an otherwise poor night. He played up to the venue despite feeling genuinely seasick. He had to face the inevitable heckle for a Welshman of “Baa”, but the timing tonight actually made this very funny, as it reoccurred through the evening. He did exactly what was necessary in his role, i.e. make people feel at ease and set it up for the featured acts.

Tonight our opener was Danny Ward, a Plymouthian now based in London. We had first met him at Plymouth Ski Lodge all the way back on the 1st February, a night on which only he had stood out against a really disruptive section of the crowd. That night he dazzled us with an array of gadgets from Lidl. And we vowed there and then we would see his show at Edinburgh (and we will be there on 22nd August – White Horse – 4:45pm). Tonight his material seemed to have come on even more and his gentle rants interspersed with Yogic chanting to calm himself down, were a huge hit with this crowd.

A break, then the middle section, both of whom we did not know would be on until we arrived. First up a lovely young chap Marcus Gill from Exeter. Best described as an Uber Geek. His tales of Pokemon and failure to fit in with ‘the lads’ and the inability to meet women were really clever. He is only a youngster and has load of promise, which we also thought when we last saw him in November. The other middle act was a bonus in that it was a seasoned pro in Andrew Watts who found the gig as he was in Cornwall on holiday. We have met Andrew several times, always enjoyed his sets, and when we see the same material as tonight, always notice something extra we hadn’t before. A lot of his material can be compared to Marcus, with its level of geekiness. But Andrew cranks it up several notches. And he is a thinking man’s comic. Routines with huge payoffs result, with kisses on emails escalating to the rise of the Nazis. Another hugely enjoyable set. Being recently married and due a child very soon, we wonder in which direction his material will go next?

A final break and then our headliner. Another recent Australian import Benny Boot, our third Aussie headliner in a couple of weeks, all of whom have very different styles. Benny was so relaxed you could have seen him falling asleep on stage. His material consisted of a mixture of straight jokes (a rarity often these days), surreal observations, and occasional ramblings. We got the impression he was trying new stuff out for Edinburgh especially with frequent trips to his back pocket for notes. A nice bit came when he briefly recapped his entire set for a guy coming back to sit down. We enjoyed him a lot, and it was obvious the rest of the audience did.

A good night of comedy, but thinking clearly about it, this is more about the venue than the comedy. You pay your money for the setting and the uniqueness of it, and we will definitely go again. But from an objective point of view we can get this level of comedy for a third of the price without a 3-hour round trip. Tonight, Danny Ward was the stand out act for us.

Another trip back on the boat with a magnificent reflection of a golden moon on the river. And we also had the delight of being able to snigger at Andrew Watts trying to be nice to an extremely drunk punter who was pontificating at him. We only needed to hear ‘You’re my best mate’ to make this exchange complete.

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Dan, Andrew and Marcus

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Benny and Danny

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