Closing in on the end of 2014, we find ourselves with just two comedy dates left on the calendar.
Firstly the Watermark, Ivybridge.
The Noise Next Door, a five man improv troop, was one of the highlights of our Edinburgh this year and so, a few months ago, when Dave spotted that the guys were coming to the Watermark venue, just a few miles from us, he booked our seats and hoped that the locals would reward the venue for their faith in the act by filling up the room, given that we think the Noise is relatively unknown this end of the country. As it was, on the night there was a respectable audience, especially given the time of year.
To a background of five large portrait posters of themselves, the lads bounced on stage to a bastardised version of The Boys are Back in Town, ( I think you, blog reader, can probably guess how it was changed). The lads, all similarly dressed in tight jeans/check shirts/tshirt with the addition here and there of a smartish jacket, gelled hair or beard, introduced themselves as Charlie, Sam, Tom, Matt and another Tom! More info on their background is available on the link above.
The Noise’s act comprises of improv skits taken from audience members’ suggestions. Given that audiences will quite often give similar contributions to a similar set of questions, all of the improv probably isn’t completely new, but, given that, there are always variations and the boys made everything seem fresh on the night.
Smutty suggestions are just as smoothly incorporated into the sketches as clean ones, and we had guitar playing, singing and dressing up (or down to just pants!) to add to the fun.
Skits included Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, people going through customs, news headlines to be read out by a newsreader (this was part of the second half, with headline suggestions being asked for via a large poster with a text/twitter contact left on stage).
Of course Dave had his own contribution for that and was proud to hear it being read out as the first item.
All in all, a very good night, with the audience seeming to have enjoyed themselves and nobody giving the boys too much in the way of heckles or grief.
Then, on the Saturday after Christmas we had a lovely evening at The Lytehouse in Brixham.
We had food included (very tasty!) and soon enough that was cleared and we were settled with a drink to watch the show. We were sharing a table with Graham, who lived in the town and whose wife was normally at the comedy with him but was away visiting their grandchildren on the night.
I could only see one empty table (which was just in front of us), the night was, as always, well attended.
First up was Cerys Nelmes in her role as MC for the evening. Cerys kicked off the evening by reminding her audience of something that had happened last time she was MCing (and several remembered) – we were soon onto Cerys fulfilling her compere role by getting to know the punters. We hadn’t been to the Lytehouse for a while (since before Edinburgh) but even we recognised several of the punters as regulars, especially the big table of nine up by the “stage” area. Then, further questioning by Cerys uncovered that we had a fourteen year old girl sitting immediately behind us with her mum, dad and big brother. I’m not sure about under 18 year olds coming to adult comedy; parents need to realise that the topics and language can be (but aren’t always) of a very adult nature and not always for younger ears. Some parents don’t seem to realise this and then get very po-faced when things get smutty…
As it is, Cerys is a proper earthy West Country lass with a voice to match and has no qualms about going where others would fear to tread…she is no stranger to embarrassing photographic evidence, and that is all I’m going to say about that!
Next up was our opener, Paul T Eyres. Again no stranger to us, in fact the only new faces to us on the evening were going to be our middle spots, as we’d also seen our headliner, Susan Murray, before, at Annabel’s in Plymouth and at The Bedford Hotel in Tavistock.
Paul has been doing stand-up for about nine years, and has a smooth and confident delivery. We’ve seen Paul do his club set several times and most of this was familiar to us, with the odd thing thrown in that we hadn’t heard before. He is very professional and when a couple of slightly challenging lines of material didn’t get an enthusiastic response he was quickly able to return to safer themes.
Into the first break and then onto our two middle acts, firstly Tim Ballantine, a new face, a theatrical delivery and fan fiction. To begin with, he explained what this genre was for those of the audience who weren’t sure, and then proceeded to read some eye opening lines from some erotic fan fiction written in the world of Harry Potter, which had several audience members audibly groaning in disbelief and covering their eyes as if to blot out the mental pictures that his words were painting. Tim had to stop several times while they recovered themselves, and the punters’ reactions just got funnier and funnier. A very confident delivery and courage in the face of adversity!
Next up we had ten minutes in the form of Jim Daly, musical comedian and writer from South London and Golden Jester semi-finalist in 2013 and 2014. Jim gave us some geekiness and his own version of The Little Mermaid – which we thought could have done with being a verse shorter but it went down well enough with the crowd so who are we to say. He seemed like a nice guy and I think we needed to hear more to find out what other stories he has to tell.
Our second break soon over, we were onto our headliner Susan Murray.
Susan Murray has definitely come on in comedy stature since our last viewing. Confidence, material, delivery, timing – it is all there for her and the punters were there for her too on our visit. She does a good line in accents especially (her family are Glaswegian so we had some very strong Weegie tones), Welsh, her own Brummie, and her material is wide and varied.
Her work is definitely on the smutty side and so down to earth, she must be washing the mud off before every gig, but very funny for all that. People were taking sharp intakes of breath at some of her lines and then finding themselves laughing anyway as she got away with dart after dart.
Another very good evening at the Lytehouse. Carol, (the owner and our hostess, comedy fan and fellow Scotswoman) delivers yet again!
From the left: Paul T Eyres, Susan Murray, Jim Daly, Cerys Nelmes and Tim Ballantine.