An early Christmas present.
It is no coincidence that Plymouth Comedy Club have thrived while many other comedy clubs have struggled. They started relatively small, with one night every three months, then upped this to two each quarter. This was their biggest show to date an ambitious 400+ seater venue. The little details of the organisation mean people keep coming back and the shows keep selling out. Chris Brooker, resident MC and booker does something no other local booker does and brings down new fresh acts, often from near his Manchester base. The quality shines through time after time. Whereas the other local clubs rely on two other bookers, who have a tedious overlap of acts, so much so you end up with a same headliner four or five times a year over the handful of local venues. We look forward to these nights more than any other club nights in Devon & Cornwall and they never disappoint. Tonight was enhanced by the sale of Movember stick on ‘taches and a photo booth for this.
Tonight’s line-up consisted of the excellent Chris Brooker, again doing exactly what he does best and setting things up for the acts, and four other acts all of whom could have headlined a normal club night. On the few occasions things threatened to get a bit rowdy he stepped in with the kind of control only a top class teacher can do, with no need to resort to insults or raising his voice. Tonight he had a stag do to marshal, with the groom to be wearing a fetching dress. The group concerned were good fun throughout and never threatened to get rowdy at any time.
We started about fifteen minutes late and after a bit of banter from Chris had the excellent Brendan Dempsey as an opener. Brendan is an accomplished actor as well as stand-up, and was an inspired choice as opener with a relaxed set where he often left the pauses where he knew he was going to get the applause. Lots of beautifully conceived and timed material about children left the Irishman as a major hit with this crowd.
Then the first of two breaks, which for us were two long, but that’s a minor quibble on an otherwise great night. Next up two middle acts starting with Dominic Woodward, like Chris, down from Manchester. For us he was the star turn on this night with a set full of fresh observations, magnificently presented, with some great facial expressions to go with them. Straight on then to Noel James, the only main act of the night that we have seen before. Three times at gigs in Plymouth and Totnes where he headlined each time. It had been a year since we had seen him last and so we were disappointed insomuch as his material was pretty much identical to every time we had seen him before. A set full of puns, some deliberately groanworthy, combined with some visual impersonations of the highest order. A great set again. His Robert De Niro impression is great, but we found two nights later that Jimeoin does it almost identically.
Another longish break and finally our headliner, the veteran comic and TV presenter Bob Mills. He knew his strengths and played to them with a set heavily laden on tacking the ‘big issues’ i.e. being fat. Being in the front row, I did fear I might become a stooge for this but fortunately Bob did not do a huge amount of crowd interaction, with a mention of the stag again being as close as he came. The crowd loved him, as did we.
A triumph of a night and we hope the next progression will be that the three monthly nights become more frequent. Their nights this year have been a country mile the best we have been to in Devon and Cornwall.
Anagrams: Bob Mills (Slim Blob – appropriate considering his set!), Brendan Dempsey (Embeds Randy Pen), Noel James (Jam On Eels), Dominic Woodward (Micro Woodwind Ad)