21st November 2014, The Plough Arts Centre, Great Torrington – Mark Simmons and Seann Walsh

Responding to a Twitter giveaway, we found ourselves, very happily I might say, in receipt of two tickets for this Comedy South West gig at the lovely Plough Arts Centre. It’s a long way from Saltash to Great Torrington (110 mile round trip), I was doing the out journey on pretty horrible roads. Add to that the fact that it was very dark, pouring rain, and I kept being harrassed by drivers who obviously thought they knew the roads better than me, and you can imagine we were both pretty relieved to get there in one piece!

The venue bar and box office area were packed when we got there, but finally we grabbed our drinks and very shortly were making our way to our seats; and amusing ourselves by watching the seating confusion that had been caused by the venue adding two extra rows in front of the properly labelled A row.

We’d seen Mark Simmons, our support act for the evening, in Edinburgh this year. We’d both seen him do a short stint at a lunchtime show in the Pleasance’s cabaret bar, but Dave had also seen his full show in Plymouth at the uni. Mark is a pun and word play master. He has a slow, measured delivery, perfectly timed for maximum impact and I have to give him due respect; even though I’m not a fan of pun gags, Mark is a funny guy.

Shame that on this occasion, several of his jokes were drowned out and interrupted by a lad at the back who was having a birthday and his mates had decided that a comedy night would be a good night out to celebrate. He’d had quite a lot of “lemonade” by this time and so of course thought the show was all about him. This is the sort of comedy heckler who you wish had sat in an ejector seat, so we could happily watch as he catapults through the venue ceiling. Harsh? I don’t think so! Also in the same row I heard one of his mates say during the break (of Seann Walsh) “This guy had better be funny!” Oh really? Didn’t you know who you’d come to see?

The first few minutes of Walsh’s show is taken up with a short, spoof biopic video of the man himself. This had the audience chuckling before he even came on stage.

Seann came on after a wee bit of back stage banter over the mic with Mark re Waitrose ( topical and local; Waitrose are trying to break into Great Torrington and the locals are up in arms about it) and launched into his Lie-In King hour. We’ve seen it before but each time it just gets funnier and as Seann warms to his theme of newly co-habiting with his girlfriend and the trials and tribulations thereof, I can’t ever help but feel sorry for the girlfriend.

In the first few minutes on stage Seann started bantering with a local in the front row who turns out to be a dairy farmer. Cue much discussion about “fisting cows” and the many reasons behind that. The banter took an even funnier turn regarding the dairy farmer’s living arrangements which ended up having me and Dave in those sort of rib aching hysterics that make it hard to breathe for 24 hours afterwards. An oft said phrase, but you really had to be there. Seann was finding it hard to carry on for a minute or two himself!

Mr Birthday at the back chirped up a couple of times early in Seann’s act but between a couple of zinger put downs from Seann and his mates telling him to shush, he finally, thankfully, piped down.

Seann freely admits that, left to himself, he’s lazy, doesn’t do mornings, doesn’t wash dishes until there’s none left to eat from (and who needs a plate to eat toast while you sit on the loo anyway??) and finds any form of exercise abhorrent. There’s plenty more exasperated, frustrated observations and complaints before the show is up, ending with a letter from his long suffering mate giving her side of things and then a very accurate and funny take-off of Michael McIntyre as a short encore.

All in all, a very good night, and despite the long drive there and back, definitely worth the trip. Thank you Comedy South West!

Carole.

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Seann and Mark.

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