Thursday 20th February 2014 – Annabel’s
MC Philip Simon, Tom Glover, Kevin Shepherd.
Annabel’s is one venue that we don’t attend too often any more as we’ve had some strange audiences in there and quite often it can present as very much a crowd control situation. Tonight was no exception as our MC Philip Simon was soon to find out.
We were quite happy to have been seated at the back; not that we worry about being stuck in the (supposedly scarey) front row, but Annabel’s can be very crowded which makes it difficult, if you’re by the stage, to get to and from the bar/loos at breaktimes. Even the comedians have to be secreted up around a side entrance so that they can get on stage quickly without having to fight their way to the front! There’s also the late start (usually after 9pm) and two breaks to take into account which makes sure we’re never home much before midnight – no good for old ‘uns like us who have to get up for work in the morning!
Philip Simons was new to us and we were hoping for a strong character to quiet down and lead the very packed and noisy room. The lighting wasn’t helping at all as it seemed to have been set on some sort of fade in and out sequence of different colours for the first part of the show with no noticeable spotlight and because of crowd chatter around us we couldn’t hear him that well either.
I know that Philip had a hard time getting the crowd warmed up and there was a smattering of heckling going on which was more annoying than anything as he also had some good material to deliver but didn’t really get the chance to put it across. I really hope that we get to see him again with his own set in front of a more respectful audience so we can get to hear what material he has.
Our opener Tom Glover is a lovely West Country guy who we’ve seen four times in the last year as part of club nights in various venues so it really isn’t his fault that we’ve seen some of his material before. He’s a funny guy and in four viewings has never had a bad gig as far as we can see. Tonight there were some new set pieces; he has some material on a foamy bath product for kids which you will never look at in the same light again and my favourite is his West Country turf wars piece complete with brilliant accents. There were new call backs this time and the audience by this time were listening well and I felt really appreciated his set, especially the lady on the table to our right who was screaming with laughter and setting us all off.
Into a break, then the joke competition ‘What is the difference between Jessie J and a mop?’ (which we didn’t enter for a change largely over protest at Jessie J being termed a celebrity) and into another break before our MC brought on our headliner Kevin Shepherd.
We’ve seen Kevin three times before , twice at the Ski Lodge, and once, most infamously of all, on our first night in Edinburgh in 2012 as Festival virgins at Espionage where he was MCing for a line-up including Bob Slayer and Jeff Leach, but no more will be said (by me at least) on that notorious evening in this particular diary entry! (Dave: We call it the ‘incident’ Wankgate. We were due to see Kevin in his well reviewed show at Edinburgh 2013 and even bumped into him and chatted about it. We never actually made it due to the accommodation disaster we had part way through our trip, we did see his other half’s show, and that was absolutely superb and also deserved brilliant reviews)
Kevin is (or appears to be) calm, cool and collected with enough defences and ammo to make sure that he stays well protected from heckles whilst on stage and he launched straight into his set with no hitches.
Kevin had lots of new material, much of it written around his new girlfriend and how they met and began dating. His girlfriend is a comedian who is known to us and who we love so we were enjoying his uproarious material all the more because we could picture her in each scene as it unfoldeded. The rest of the audience were thoroughly enjoying Kevin’s stuff too and we came away at the end of the night feeling that we’d had a good evening despite the pockets of disrespectful members in the audience.
Tom and Kevin
(Dave, Anagrams: Philip Simon – Pop Nihilism, Tom Glover – Tool v Germ, Kevin Shepherd – Hived Hens Perk)
Friday 20th February – Babbacombe Theatre – Comedy Variety Night in aid of THHN (Torbay Home Helpers Network)
Revan and Fennell (comedy sketch duo who were playing hosts and MCs), Stu Turner a comedy magician, The Three Half Pints (comedy sketch trio), Tamar Broadbent (comedic musician) and Phil Blackmore (a juggler who had been on Britain’s Got Talent).
The THHN provides free holidays and volunteers to families with very poorly or terminally ill parents or children and is a charity well worthy of support. Local businesses and all of the acts had volunteered their time and/or services and goods for the evening and a large raffle was also underway at the door and during the break. Revan and Fennell had played a very large part in organising this event and clearly had a great time hosting the evening.
I had taken a day off as Carole was on half-term and we decided to make the trip over to Babbacombe because it was for a well deserving charity and looked to be a bit different from our usual comedy gigs. (Dave)
This was a real mix of acts in a very nice wee theatre which we had never before visited. We had seen Revan and Fennell before in The New Sketch Act final hosted by Mark Dolan at The Gilded Balloon at last year’s Edinburgh Festival and were impressed with them then… so we were looking forward to seeing them again. We had also seen the magic man Stu Turner during one of the most fun gigs we attended at Edinburgh 2013 – on top of a double decker bus on a beautiful sunny lunchtime day in August.
The schedule for the night consisted of Revan and Fennell coming on and doing small pieces of their material in amongst introducing the various acts, (The Three Half Pints were on twice), mixed up with a break and a short session when the raffle was drawn before our final act, Phil Blackmore and then an all singing, all dancing finale.
We enjoyed this night as a real change from our usual mix of club nights and one off single act shows. Revan and Fennell are a talented duo and had clearly put a lot of effort into the night, bringing down a good selection of class acts from far afield.
A very pleasant change and worth the 80 mile round drive!
(Dave, anagrams: Revan and Fennell – Flannel and Nerve, Phil Blackmore – Lamb Chop Liker, The Three Half Pints – Phatter in the Flesh, Stu Turner – True Runts, Tamar Broadbent – A Bomb Retardant)
25th February 2015 – Plymouth Skeptiks in the Pub, Plymouth B-Bar, Guest speaker Robin Ince
This was not a comedy gig but is well worth a mention. Robin was a real hit with us when we saw him at the lovely Calstock Arts Venue last May. And I found out about this guest spot the Friday before via the B-bar site. So we thought we would go along despite not having gone to any of their events before. We thought we might get a short talk from Robin which would be worth the fiver. As it turned out, it was pretty much a full Robin Ince gig. He started at 7:40 had an interval at 9pm, then did a monster Q&A session until 10pm. Amazing value for money.
The crowd was very different to one of our normal comedy nights with a lot of members of the Plymouth Skeptiks, and Humanists, and I recognised a lot of staff and students from the nearby Plymouth university, where I also work. It gave it a really nice dynamic, and the crowd were much better behaved than at most comedy gigs we attend.
Robin gets on stage and just talks, his mind wanders and takes us with it, on a journey where we are given thoughts and ideas, and what can be better or more entertaining than something that provokes ideas. No overt cock jokes needed, though there is mention of a particular animal’s threat response!
If you haven’t seen Robin before, please do. He is not a conventional stand up but you will laugh a lot and you will come away with a stimulated mind. I am already looking forward to next time, maybe doing something extra at Machynlleth Comedy Festival where he will be performing his new show.
An absolute treat and a bonus night for us.
The skeptiks have a different guest speaker each month so check them out, we will certainly be back. https://www.facebook.com/groups/PlymouthSITP/
Anagram: Robin Ince – I Born Nice