The third night of this gig at the Kings Arms and this time they were charging to attend, which was great news as it cut out a lot of the casual in and outers. The tiny £5 ticket price also included a plate of very nice curry or chilli so they were still not making any money on this night but they tell us they are still trying to build their audience so we will wait to see what happens in the future. We think a ticket price of £10 is nearer the mark and more in line with what the LLLS * were charging.
Arriving at the venue we quickly got our drinks in, settled ourselves in some comfy tub chairs and got tucked into our respective dinners (nice on both counts). A bit of “who shall go in first” to some ladies stood near us, and eventually we started filing into the comedy space. We decided that the second row was the safest place for us as we weren’t familiar with several of the acts and didn’t want to be singled out.
Our compere Tony Vino was one comic we were curious to see as we had heard his name before when reading Andy Kind’s books on being a stand up comedian. According to Andy, Tony was like a mentor to him when starting out.
The show started in good time and Tony bounded onto the small stage area. Long and lean, he came across as very confident and experienced. With a smashing northern accent he soon began some bantering with the very masculine looking front row, to find that they were all retired ex-marines (friends of the landlord). More chat with a buff looking chap in the second row found that he was an actual SERVING marine, which Tony said upped the old guys, and the room thought this was hilarious.
After quite a long warm-up, Tony brought on our opening act, tall, dark and bearded Mark Palmer. Hailing from Cape Town, SA, Mark has been over in the UK for just two years. Lots of material around Mark’s take on the UK had the punters laughing. He has one story about being mugged while checking his bank balance at an ATM, and the mugger feeling sorry for him because his bank balance was so low that he wasn’t worth mugging.
During Mark’s act there was a bit of consistent heckling going on from one member of the front row who had clearly imbibed a little too much of the landlord’s ale and was garrulous to say the least. Harmless enough, he was just one of those who can’t do whispering when talking to his friend sat next to him. Mark had to stop several times and pick up the thread after these constant interruptions but finished his stint well. A good opener indeed.
Catching up with the landlord at the first break, I was assured that the happy heckler would be spoken to during the interval to be asked to keep it down a bit.
More of our compere to begin the middle section and Tony had a bit of theatre to show us, with four “volunteers” being pulled up onto the stage area to re-enact, after some audience contributions, a “scene” from Camelot. We had an ex-marine playing Lancelot, and other punters as Guinevere, Arthur and Merlin. We had the straight (!!) version and, again after some audience suggestions, a reggae version which had us all rolling about. Well done to our players, they threw themselves into the fun of it and gave it their all.
There had to be a bit of a dip after all of that excitement and so it was that Tony brought on Philip Jones. Hardly ever one to badmouth a comedian, this time I have to say he was probably the worst act we have seen so far this year. From the beginning it was quite difficult to hear what he was saying as his speech seemed very muffled to me. But once my ear tuned in it really didn’t get any better. Amongst some generic comedy lines, we had some material knocking his girlfriend’s cooking, which other comedians do, but not in the way it came across here, some other material which sounded like a rape joke (but not quite), and then some more making fun of the subject itself. Let’s be clear, there are some scenarios where maybe a comedian can get a smile out of the subject of rape, but it wasn’t here. I think that comedian needs to be a woman, who it has happened to. They are the only ones who are qualified to say if they think there is anything funny about the subject. The rest of us need to shut the fuck up.
Philip had brought the energy of the room down so far that it was an unfortunate Tim O’ Connor, second act in the middle section, who had to try and retrieve things from the comedy cul de sac, and fair play to him, although tonight bringing out some tried and tested stuff, (we know because we’ve seen him before several times) he did manage to lighten things back up to the point where the audience were genuinely laughing again, and not just being polite. Tim’s older material relies on laminated posters and pictures and some lines around local places and he does it very well. I know there is some new material in the pipeline and hope to hear it next time!
Our second break (where I had a quick chat with another punter who has been to the B-Bar several times and backed up our opinion on Philip (“worst act of the night”, I didn’t appreciate the rape stuff) Jones.
So to our headliner, Wes Zaharuk. We had heard good things about him (“he works with props”) and were looking forward to seeing what his act was all about. We didn’t have long to wait. Using a vacuum cleaner, toilet paper, quick outfit changing “magic”, lots of visual comedy, some volunteers/victims and slapstick, Wes had the customers in an uproar. The aforesaid B-Bar regular was begging for mercy somewhere behind me and Dave was holding onto the seat in front of him, doubled over in mirth.
It was comedy gold and Wes more than upheld his reputation as a funny man with a difference.
It was nice to go to a comedy night with a bit more variety than just wham, bam stand up man. Some nights it really is just one obligatory observational comic or one liner comic after another, but the Mirth comics mixed it up for us a bit on this one, with Mark and his observations on the UK, Tony’s theatre, Tim’s pics and Wes’s wonderful physical comedy, there was something for everyone.
More variety out there please!
Tony, Wes, Mark, Tim, Philip
* LL = Late Lamented Leaping Salmon