Two comedy nights in a row, – starting with a fast dash up the A38/M5 then west on the M4 to Port Talbot after work on the Friday evening, back to Caerphilly where we were staying, then west again to Cardiff the following evening for the Glee Club; a bit further than our normal Friday and Saturday but I was taking part in the Cardiff Half Marathon on the Sunday morning so we were up in Wales for the whole weekend. Regular readers of the blog might remember that I was in training for the HM all the way through August while we were at the Fringe so the day of reckoning was finally at hand!
Anyhow back to the main events. I was doing the driving up to Port Talbot on the Friday (Dave doing the return to home Sunday) and had made good time, beating the satnav’s ETA until we hit the M4 Newport area where we were held up in very slow moving traffic for a while. Eventually we made it to the Princess Theatre where we had the line-up of Jordan Brookes, Gary Tro and Tommy Rowson with Kieran Boyd (from the Wit Tank boys) as MC. There seemed to have been a change in the line-up as we were expecting to see Alfie Brown tonight so were a bit disappointed to find he wasn’t there. Would his slightly dark material have gone down well with this club type crowd – or would he have produced more of a lighter club set? We will never know!
In the end we’d arrived with enough time to grab drinks (coke for Dave, red wine for me), chat to the nice couple with whom we were sharing a table, and throw down a couple of sandwiches which were having to suffice as supper, having had no time for anything else!
The room was massive, with a high stage; obviously used for much bigger events than this. For this night we had about 12-15 large round tables with up to half a dozen seats around each. Table sharing definitely the order of the day for people in couples etc.
We hadn’t seen Kieran take the MC role for a while and of course he had just the right take on it. Plenty of banter, and mickey taking, getting the audience warmed up, a safe pair of a hands without making it all about him.
Onto our opener, Jordan Brookes, seen by us three times, first time at the 2012 Cardiff Comedy Gala just after he won the Welsh unsigned artist award, then twice at Machynlleth. Having heard Kieran say hello to Dave, Jordan mentioned this blog during his set, seeming to think we’d said something negative about him (but reading back later, we’re not sure what he meant). Jordan has a new girlfriend who tells him not to mind about how he looks, and told us he doesn’t do sexism (a good thing!)
We were only to have one break tonight (before the headliner) so next up we had Gary Tro. We’ve seen Gary at least twice before and he didn’t have anything new for us tonight but the punters were enjoying themselves. His stories of working at a primary school always go down well and because I work in education I can always relate.
Into our break then and finally we were introduced to Tommy Rowson, a charming Welshman. A previous winner of So You Think You’re Funny 2011 and a finalist in the New Comedy Awards Tommy had a good ten minutes of more solid material and then was into adlib and surrealism. His grandad was a fraudster (so he said!) and we had more stuff on drinking and wine.
A pleasant enough night, but we felt we’d travelled a long way for it!
Back to our Travelodge in Caerphilly where we finally got booked in by close to midnight only to find plenty of proof in our room that it hadn’t been serviced since the previous occupant! Taking a full bin, a dirty mug and dirty towels downstairs to show the receptionist, I complained. He apologised profusely and asked if we wanted to change rooms! As the bed looked like it had barely been touched (and just on one side) and we were exhausted, we decided to put up with it and asked for a complete change for the morning. I got clean towels etc and made my way wearily back upstairs.
Next morning we were up and out into town for breakfast at the local Wetherspoons by 10.20am, to find lots of early drinking going on, and then finding our first our first order was wrongly taken down and charged, our second order not appearing (eventually finding out it had been delivered and accepted at another table!) finally getting our food nearly an hour after ordering. At this point we didn’t feel that Caerphilly was treating us very well! A quick look around the rest of the town and then back to our car, worried that our extended breakfast had eaten up all of our ticket time.
Over then to Cardiff to spend a couple of hours, where we paid the extortionate price of £10.40 for three hours parking, but on finding an almost complete dearth of charity shops (our favourite haunts for you never know what you will find!) we headed out to Penarth on what was turning out to be a lovely sunny day, and found out there that it was charity shop heaven, ending the afternoon with a walk around the pier.
A quick nip into the big Tesco store there and after a furtive change into some smarter clothes in their loos (!) we got parked up in another expensive (£5 till 10.30pm with the option to top up if the show went on later) car park out in the Cardiff Bay area and settled down in a bar for a drink before heading towards the Glee club for our dinner and more comedy.
Our pre-ordered food was fine and tasty. Dave had a chicken burger and chips and I was busy carb loading for my next day’s run on pizza and chips, all very filling. We were sat behind a row of five male body builder types, all bulging necks, upper arms and straining shirt seams. They were sharing large pitchers of beer and the pitcher levels were going down very fast indeed. Their half naked, high heeled women, false lashes fluttering, were sat in their own little row beside them. There was a faceless voice on the mic telling us we couldn’t chat over the acts, that we couldn’t have our phones on during the acts and basically that any messing about or breaking of these rules would see the transgressors being ejected from the club forewith. Wonderful we thought. A proper comedy club with proper rules to sort the eejits out. Hmmmm.
Finally, we got going. Our MC, lovely Scotsman Iain Stirling got the evening off to a good start with plenty of banter. The inevitable few lines about the recent Scottish referendum got some laughs and a bit of Salmond knocking was also a sure bet. More material about industry, selfies and break-ups was all going down well.
Meanwhile we were putting up with the row in front of us, one girl in particular, taking pictures of her friends and the guys on her (forbidden) phone. The guys and the girls were all chatting throughout and we were wondering when the so called comedy police were going to come and put a stop to it.
Into our opener Noel James, well known to us and getting a lukewarm reception from the crowd with his somewhat hit and miss material. A lot of the crowd weren’t really up for any comedy as far as we could tell – they were far more interested in getting as much booze down themselves as possible.
The row in front weren’t getting any better behaved and eventually one of the security guys came across and had a word with Miss Couldn’t Put Her Phone Down, which at least she took seriously and put it away! The guys just kept talking. Hmmmph.
Then we were into a break that went on, and on, and on – and on.
At last the wonderful Mr David Trent, who gave us some of his Edinburgh multi media material which entailed taking a whole load of pee out of Michael Gove, the former and much loved (NOT) Minister for Education. Fab stuff for us, but not for our Saturday night Glee Club crowd who wouldn’t recognise a good act that wasn’t standard stand up if it fell on them…and we were still putting up with the steroid and beer fuelled lads’ night out in front of us …nothing was being done by the Club to sort it out.
After David T we were into yet another INTERMINABLE break where the Glee management must have made a lot more drinks profit.
Steve Gribbin was our headliner. A chap with a good line in political, topical, musical comedy, he had plenty to say and all backed up with some decent guitar playing. The crowd finally started to come around a bit and look like they were actually listening but not our body builders who were too busy grabbing each other around the neck and generally acting like arses. Totally tedious and tiresome and we were so annoyed with them and at the management for not sorting them out! If they’d spotted the phone lady, they must’ve seen what their bfs were up to; did the fact that they were all built like brick sh*thouses put the club’s bouncers off? Add to that the fact that the whole evening had run on so late due to the very long breaks we had to top up the car park fee so as to avoid being done for underpayment!
Back, at last to our lodgings where we found to our relief that the receptionist had been as good as his word and our room had at last been serviced properly. However the window had been left open and it was bloody freezing! I got my kit organised for the next day’s run, set my phone alarm for 6.30am and collapsed into bed.
Of and out early the next morning, Dave parked up as per instructions at Cardiff City football ground and we walked the mile into the city centre for the start of the Half Marathon. After a long wait at the race Portaloos, I joined on at the end of my colour coded race area and once I got over the start line, had a lovely run and managed a respectable 2:05:24 time, meeting up with Dave at the Aneurin Bevin statue at the end of Queen Street afterwards. Holding a large takeaway cup of tea for me, Dave congratulated me on the run and we made our way (me a little stiffly!) back to the football ground. A quick bite to eat at the Asda cafe there and we were on our way back to Cornwall.
Next trip – London at the end of the month!