17th November 2013 – Plymouth Comedy Avengers – Maritime Inn

A minor Marvel

After several nights out this week we were fairly tired but somehow got ourselves out the door to pay another visit to the Comedy Avengers open mic night on the Barbican. Whatever else, we can usually count on at least a couple of acts we haven’t seen before.

On arrival the pub seemed fairly quiet and we were wondering about audience size but we needn’t have worried, it soon began to fill up and by the time the comedy got underway the main seating area was fairly full.

Our MC, Phillip Cooper, flat cap at a fashionable angle, slim and very Welsh, got the night off to a good start with tales of his teaching assistant work at school with an autistic lad, and other tales about what Google thinks you are searching for when you put in the first couple of search words. A few minutes into his warm up, Phil was interrupted by a late audience member sitting down in the front row, having been encouraged to sit there by the Maritime’s resident heckler (he is an act all on his own). The late arrival was wearing a hearing aid, which didn’t seem to be  working correctly much to general hilarity. This all served to make sure that the audience were well warmed up and ready for our opening act, Chris Chopping.

We’ve seen Chris before (at the Ski Lodge AND the late lamented Leaping Salmon) last October. Apart from not seeming to have had a hair cut since then, he didn’t look very different and still with the iconic glass of red wine in hand! The wine is also a device for some of his material. He has a definite laid back and chilled out style…no fast talker here. Each word is considered for the effect it has on the audience and there are some killer lines. Chris seems more assured and adept than before. What next for the “specky shortarse”? (his words not ours!)

A break, then back onto the stage our MC, Phil, who has by this time divested himself of the fashionable headwear, to reveal that he is slightly hirsutely challenged, a fact that he is quick to address. Phil keeps what hair he has very short, and attacks those who prefer the combover style, not trusting them an inch! He is soon introducing the first of our three middle acts; the very well known to us Richard James, one of the night’s organisers (Comedy Avengers).

Richard comes out with some poetry to read. An anthem for Devon (to out do the new Cornish Anthem written by someone from Torpoint) and another poem on old people. Now…as a fellow poet, it’s hard to be too judgemental about anyone else’s work; I know how hard it is to write the stuff,  but I think Richard would be better off staying with his usually excellent observational material.

Our next act, Robert Manifield, came out with some outrageous lines but passed it all off as “banter”.  He did get some fun out of the audience when asking couples who had ever “shared a bath”. Some mishearing at the front caused uproar when someone thought he had asked if people had ever “shit in a bath”…luckily we sorted that misunderstanding out and it was generally agreed that sharing the tub wasn’t as wonderful as it’s made out to be thanks to the lack of space in the average sized bath! Robert seems fairly inexperienced but also shows a lot of promise…we await developments.

Last up in the middle section was the unknown to us James Fenn. A Proclaimers/Joe 90 lookalike, after a few introductory lines and a quick glasses swap tryout with the aforementioned late arrival,  he whipped out his ukelele (not a euphemism!) and proceeded to give us a rendition of his own very cultured little ditty “A Huge Vagina”.  As an act opener it certainly livened things up and was thoroughly enjoyed by us and the rest of the crowd.  He claimed he was fluent in Italian and gave us some examples in song and then asked for one word ideas from the audience to give us some improv verses and uke playing. The audience loved him and he went off to big applause just before our second and last break.

A last minute or two from Phil our MC and then straight into our headlining act Tom Glover. Hailing from Bridport, we had only just recently seen Tom at last month’s Ski Lodge where he was MCing and wondered what he would have for us in a headlining spot. He had some good new material on Waitrose (original Waitrose staff V staff who were kept on when Waitrose took over Somerfields branches), vegetarians coming to grief in Come Dine With Me, and exactly what kind of people he thinks take Sun £9.50 holidays.  All in all a good top act for the evening.

The Comedy Avengers is an open mic night and these are all people still learning their trade so nobody is close to being the finished article, but there is a lot of promise here…and we enjoy seeing these guys at this early stage in their careers; when they are famous comedians we’ll get to say “We saw them when they were open mic’ers and we spotted the talent then!”


HPIM2011 HPIM2012

Carole took two pictures but managed to leave Robert Manifield out of both – doh!

Anagrams: Philip Cooper – Lippier Pooch, Chris Chopping – Hip Choc Spring, Richard James – Jeds Armchair, Robert Manifield – Deform Nail-Biter, James Fenn – Jen Efs Man, Tom Glover – Mog Revolt





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