Having been lucky enough to win premier tickets for this, the last evening of the Bristol Comedy Gardens (many thanks to http://www.comedysouthwest.org/), we had a lovely evening for the drive up and for a pre-show drink in the beautiful Queens Square. A proper comedy village of food and drink tents had been set up, with the huge comedy marquee itself off to one side.
Our friend, the lovely West Country comedian Cerys Nelmes was helping out in the beer tent and introduced us to a few people, including: George Rigden (who we have yet to see perform), Will the Organiser and Colin McKenzie, Close-Up Magician http://mackmagic.co.uk/ who amazed us with his sleight of hand card miracles. I still haven’t worked out how he did any of it!
Soon enough it was time to line-up and get into the queue and find some seats. We were lucky enough to land in the middle stalls area, third row back, which afforded us a great view, and, more importantly we thought, well off the comedians’ radar – although we ended up being slightly off target with that assumption.
Our MC for the night was the wonderful Andrew Maxwell. Last seen by us in Edinburgh last year, being the angelic half of the commentating duo (Brendan Burns being his devilish partner) for The Wrestling. That night Andrew did a magnificent job and centre stage in Bristol as MC, he was equally impressive. It wasn’t long before he was having a pop at the city of Bristol itself, (“slave port”) and other equally endearing lines guaranteed to get a response from the loyal Bristolians.
Andrew has a lovely relaxed delivery and all done in that soft Irish accent. He had a chat with some of the front row, then asked who had come the furthest for the show. Dave had to shout out on our behalf (“CORNWALL!!”) which got a response from one young lady in the front row that she was at university in Plymouth and that she was a student teacher. Andrew had to interrupt the chat to remind us that he was trying to deliver some comedy!!
After some great lines from Andrew, including the fact that Ireland’s summer temperature can get as high as 20c (“Can you imagine the Irish Tourist Board’s line: ‘Come to us, we’re at room temperature!’”), we were introduced to our opener, the excellent Stephen K Amos.
We saw Stephen not a million years ago, at the Corn Exchange in Exeter so weren’t expecting huge changes of material, but there was some classic audience interaction, especially to the 16yr old lad in the front row, who Stephen asked if he had had The Talk (sex education). There was more enlightening material around condoms and bananas – no more needs to be said!
Stephen is a great act with plenty of delicious facial expressions and body language to go along with his delivery. Definitely worth catching if you can!
After the break, (when we all nipped off to the Portaloos in true festival style) we were re-introduced to the totally delightful and surreal Terry Alderton. Last seen by us in Edinburgh the previous August, Terry had new stuff, old stuff, and all delivered with an alternately angelic grin or a wicked smile. Quizzing the punters on his own sexuality, one minute mincing in a high camp way across the stage, the next lunging menacingly at us in full thug mode saying – “You don’t know do you – you don’t know what to make of me.”
As PHH blog readers will know, I am a sucker for a well delivered accent and Terry has a huge talent here; delivering an accurately observed range including South African, Australian, Indian, (not in a racist way I hasten to add) and various British regional ones.
With his back to the audience Terry holds audible conversations between his good and bad personas and his physical comedy is a revelation with some wicked take offs which had the comedy tent rocking with laughter. There’s a fabulous ending with Alderton doing a yoga type shoulder stand, legs high in the air, and has his shoes talking to each other. We’ve seen this before but this time his feet, clad in very cool tartan converses (where did he get those? I want some), had some new lines.
I’d highly recommend anyone who loves a bit of surrealism and physical comedy to get themselves to a Terry Alderton gig as soon as possible. Well – what are you waiting for?
A second break, and off we went into the third section for the night. Al Murray’s beer swilling Pub Landlord never gets old as he finds new victi … errr punters to talk to every time and he knows how to deal with any to which he takes exception. This time we had a copper and a couple of people in pensions who were the target for his ire. He led the copper into a very short lasting sense of security by telling him how wonderful the “thin blue line” are, and that he’d never pick on a policeman, before letting loose with a devastating list of name calling…of course, not HIS opinion, just what he’s heard others say!
A lady’s partner in the audience was handed a £20 note and harried out of the tent to get her a fresh drink after the Landlord swilled her cider (to check it was a “fruit based drink”) and then Al ended the night with the retelling of the story behind a famous nursery rhyme. Let me tell you – any gig that ends with a couple of hundred people in a grass floored tent being conducted to sing Incey Wincey Spider at the tops of their voices, not once, but three times, accompanied by the appropriate hand actions is definitely worth a ticket!
A great night of comedy all round, just wish it was a bit nearer! Come to Plymouth!