The King’s Folly
We found out about this gig a few days before and rang the venue to be told it was free and that there was a happy hour from 6-8pm. If ever there was a warning of what to expect that was it.
We arrived at 7pm and were confronted with four locals and a barmaid. The landlord had apparently decamped to Mauritius on holiday. When I asked where the comedy was taking place I was pointed to an area in front of a TV showing football in the corner. There was no setup for the night until the comics started to arrive and did it themselves, including bring their own microphone.
By the time the start time of 8pm arrived there was a small area with 20 or so seats in rows to one side of the l-shaped bar. There were also a lot more locals in by then, and it was 50/50 as to the numbers who were remotely interested in comedy and those who were out for their Friday night piss-up. With no payment involved there was no filtering out of the audience done.
I will gloss over the entire first section. It would not be fair to our MC Pete Dobbin and opener Rhys Mathewson. Pete is a lovely chap who we have seen twice before and we know he is a fine MC and act. Rhys is a superb young Kiwi comic, who we rate very highly indeed, and have seen several times. His Edinburgh show last year was wonderful and we had also seen him really excel when supporting The Boy With Tape on His Face earlier that year.
Tonight though they simply could not be heard above the absolutely disgraceful locals (the ones there for a drink and not the comedy performance). Not their fault in any way, this was the worst audience we had ever seen apart from one late night show at Edinburgh when security were call to disperse a particularly rowdy bunch. There were of course twenty members of the audience who were there for the comedy and they were respectful and there for a good time.
A real shame, as we had really wanted to see Rhys again, and will now have to wait to see his new show in Edinburgh in August. He is off home to New Zealand for the Comedy Festival there and we are a bit ashamed that he had to come to a gig less than five miles from our home after a five hour drive from London to be treated like this. A completely wasted trip.
So, into our first break and fortunately for us the night was somewhat rescued by the decision to move the comedy into a small, back, restaurant type room where food is usually served. This room was far from perfect and there were still a few distractions with a VERY creaky and rattly door, in constant use throughout the rest of the gig with people coming and going to the toilet and bar. At least we now had an audience who were there for the comedy.
Rather than a middle section and another break, there was a wise choice made to do the middle and then headliner in the same section.
First though Pete actually got to do some material and got a good response, especially for his SALARMS story, which I already knew. The night was back on track. Onto Sandi Smith, doing the open spot. Despite having seen Sandi several times, and liking her every time, it had been nearly nine months since last time, so we were keen to see how she had developed. She had planned to do some new material tonight but with the strangeness of the night decided to stick with her tried and tested material most of which we knew already. It was a wise choice delivered really confidently, and got a LOT of laughs. We don’t have to wait long to see her again as she is at Plymouth B-Bar this Wednesday. She should get a much better crowd then.
Straight on to our headliner, the only person we had not seen perform before, Colin Owens. He was very dry and so laid back he could have been horizontal. Glass of wine in hand a lot of the time, he told an assortment of tales which kept the crowd entertained. I can only remember one thing that really made me laugh, inducing a very loud snort from me. Not sure this was so much as from the joke itself, rather than it reminded me of a rather gross short story I read several years ago. Here it is:
A good end to a night that had been rescued from being one of our worst. We both feel that Rhys should have been the headliner here.
This was an inaugural night and if it is to happen again, needs some serious thought, it would need a permanent move to the room at the back, which we think is probably a bit too small to sustain a night. I am not sure we could be tempted back.
Anagrams: Rhys Mathewson – The Showman Yrs, Pete Dobbin – Nibbed Poet, Sandi Smith – Shits Admin, Colin Owens – Console Win
Sandi, Pete, Colin, Rhys