This was the first of three days of comedy in a row with hour long shows. Last year we had a fantastic time, and on the back of it went to the Machynlleth festival in May, which has been our single best comedy weekend ever.
Henry Widdicombe had once again put together a wonderful weekend of shows, some of which we had seen before and loved, some others that were new and in a couple of cases mouth-watering, and a couple of work in progress shows.
Friday’s line-up consisted of Tiernan Douieb doing an hour as the first night of his self-arranged national tour. Next up was Holly Walsh doing a work in progress. Finally we had Nish Kumar with his show ‘Nish Kumar is a Comedian’, a show which we had originally seen last May in Machynlleth and which introduced us to a lovely chap and massive talent.
Before we get to the shows themselves a bit of what happened beforehand. Because Carole works until 5pm, she could not make it to Exeter for Tiernan’s 6pm show. Of course I bought two tickets stupidly forgetting this and then had to take a half day myself and catch a bus up the A38 to get there myself in time. This actually got me to Exeter three and a half hours before the gig, so after doing a bit of shopping in the teeming rain and getting lunch/dinner, I got to the venue itself a good couple of hours before the gig and settled down with a hot chocolate and my book.
Shortly after this a band started setting up for a gig they had at the venue after the comedy. Then a bespectacled, balding, tallish, scruffy guy came in, bought a beer and was asking the bar staff about getting tickets to the band as a reviewer. He quoted a member of staff at the theatre who was not there, and was claiming to do reviews for Radio 4 Devon and of course if he got free tickets he would promote the theatre.
When the box office opened for ticket collection he was in front of me and blagging a ticket to Tiernan’s show as a reviewer. He was claiming to have done a couple of positive reviews for the theatre before and, I can only guess because Tiernan’s show had plenty of spaces. They let him in.
So we settled down for the show
Tiernan Doubieb – Tiernan’s Tour
We had first met Tiernan in Totnes two weeks before doing an opening spot, along with his tour support Chris Coltrane and they had both left a very positive impression on Carole and I. Carole was very sad not to be able to make it in time. Because this was an hour slot, Chris was not with Tiernan and Tiernan had to cut time from his full show.
It was great from a watching point of view to see how the twenty minutes at Totnes fitted into the hour. A wide ranging bunch of subjects held together by the framework of travelling and listening to a podcast of ‘Moby Dick’ and the ethics of the different readers of the chapters. A lovely tale of festival going and Sigur Ros, being a twitter addict and being burgled were all memorable. But I felt Tiernan’s political section was particularly strong with NHS privatisation, fracking, wind farms and Conservative MP’s all subjects for discussion.
It was all tied together with a return to the ‘Moby Dick’ podcast and a different perspective in judging the material of the book itself. A wonderful show, which again left me wanting to hear the other bits that were cut to bring it down to the hour. And a great start to the weekend’s entertainment.
But what about ‘The Reviewer’? He tried his best to ruin the show with a couple of interjections and comments such as ‘I’m reviewing this – five stars’. And then towards the end of the show he got up and walked out, presumably for the toilet, but causing the maximum disruption by way of missing the exit and walking into the wall.
A half hour break during which ‘The Reviewer’ collared Tiernan and was seen deep in conversation then…
Holly Walsh – Work in Progress.
This was an early work in progress show for a planned Edinburgh show. Holly is getting quite a big profile now with a number of TV appearances, but this was the first time we had seen her live (we – as Carole had arrived after a dash up the A38). As Holly described it herself this was a show ‘featuring trailers for jokes coming soon’. For us there was a beautiful mix of material – jobs, strippers, league tables for partners, Costa, and even keeping chickens which was a big winner with us. We love works in progress and for such an early stage this seemed very advanced, and very funny. We are sure this is going to turn into a real winner of a show and can’t wait to see how it turns out come Edinburgh. Holly has a wonderful stage presence and it was lovely to see and hear her perform in the flesh.
But what about ‘The Reviewer’? For some unbelievable reason they let him back in again. He immediately heckled just by sitting right at the front eating cheese and biscuits, and joined in several other times as well with his now trademark ‘I’m reviewing this – five stars’. Everybody was getting truly pissed off with him by then. He was asked at one point why he was not taking notes if he was reviewing ‘It’s all in my head’ being the response. I got so distracted that I took a page of my notepad and wrote ‘DICK’ in large letters with an arrow pointing downwards which I then spent the rest of the show thinking about putting above his head. But he was already disrupting the show enough single-handedly and I did not want to add to this.
Another half an hour break and then…
Nish Kumar is a Comedian
As I mentioned earlier we had first seen this show the previous May when we had taken a punt on his show, not really knowing of him at all. We were glad we did then as he left a huge impression on us, not only on stage, but off it too. With Machynlleth being a small intimate festival, you can’t really go anywhere without bumping into people and we bumped into Nish several times, he was always friendly, smiling and would always have a nice word to say.
His comedy is highly articulate and delicious both in delivery and content. He started with a heckle amnesty as ‘you know who’ had gotten in again. And then launched into a delightful show, which was even better than the first time we had seen it. Nish seems to have become so much more polished in less than a year, that we see him as a future superstar.
This is a great show and has several threads and messages, beautiful call backs, and delicious word play. Beautiful observations on racism, but without letting it be a show about racism. My overriding message being, always look for the context and intent before leaping to conclusions.
But of course, while the audience were intent on enjoying the show ‘The Reviewer’ was intent on disrupting it. His interruptions became more frequent and more bizarre culminating with the strangest I have ever come across. He stuck his hand up and would not take being ignored for a no. Nish finally let him speak only to be confronted with a rambling question about whether Nish thought paedophilia was acceptable. His point seemingly being that if Bill Wyman had a thirteen year old girlfriend it must be OK. Later he interrupted again with his hand up only to say he was an anarchist. This was beautifully deflected by Nish pointing out that if he was an anarchist then he wouldn’t have his hand up. Beautiful counter. By then the crowd had totally turned on this prick. His catchphrase followed with an additional ‘I’ll buy you a drink after the show’. At this point I lost my rag and shouted at him ‘You should buy us all a drink for being a twat’. His supercilious smile turned to a frown at this point and he left shortly afterwards, again before the end of the show.
There are several more serious angles here as a simple search of this guy on the Internet shows. The venue have now barred him and I hope considering his past this does not cause problems for them. I am not going to name him as this gives him credence he does not deserve.
I prefer instead to highlight how wonderful a night this was from the comedy front and would like to thank Henry and the acts themselves for providing a wonderful set of shows in what is a lovely intimate venue.
Tiernan Douieb – Obtained Urine / Holly Walsh – Shh! Way LOL / Nish Kumar – Rims A Hunk