Exeter Bikeshed 6/7/8 February 2015

The Comedy Year Starts Here!

This was our third year at the Bikeshed as part of the Exeter LOL festival following two previous years of delights. This year the eleven show lineup may not have featured as many big name acts as in previous years, but for us it promised a mixture of new and old names, some performing last year’s Edinburgh offerings and some early outings for this year’s festival.

We love this weekend as it offers a bridge between Edinburgh and Machynlleth and just about stops us getting the comedy DTs during those nine months.

Unfortunately for us Ivo Graham cancelled for the Saturday a few days before and Two Twisted Pairs had to pull out of their Sunday afternoon show due to illness on the Saturday so we were left with just the nine shows. But what a nine they were. We will keeps these summaries short as we know most of the shows were in an early state and don’t want to give anything away to anyone who sees them later.

Friday

LIAM WILLIAMS: Capitalism

This was a brilliant but at times uncomfortable hour. I can understand why it was nominated at the Fringe for best show. Comedy with bite from a really gifted performer. We loved it.

SHEEPS: Wembley Previews

Sketch comedy from Liam Williams (again), Daran Johnson and Alastair Roberts. Another outing of this show from last year’s Fringe. We were due to see this in preview last July, but had to cancel when the start time was changed the day before as it led to a clash with another gig we were due at afterwards. But it was worth the wait. We are suckers for all things sketch and character and this was a great hour for us.

We went the fifty miles home very happy and salivating over what was still to come.

Saturday

With Ivo cancelling we had a 4:30 start, which let us drive up and have a good charity shop rummage before settling down to:

JORDAN BROOKES: My Neighbour Is Taking His Bins Out

This was a really nice surprise. We have seen Jordan many times and he has impressed us more each time. This time, he was doing something completely different to the stand up we have seen before. More character based, and very zany. We think a few people did not get it, especially the strange mute gentleman in the front row. But we came out of this really pleased with what we had seen. I think this will develop into a fine piece of work come festival season. Charley Webster also did a turn as part of the show, which was a bonus. Whether that was part of the long term plan for the show I don’t know, but I suspect it was to fill time as the show still needs a little more fleshing out.

HENRY WIDDICOMBE: Plain Facts for the Old and Young

A strange premise for a show. The history of processed cereal. But what a cracker. Back after four years out, this was only the fourth outing of this show from the man behind this weekend. And there is a lot going on, performance, dance (and goodness me, Henry’s got the moves! – Carole),, videos and more. A real SHOW. This will be fantastic later in the year, it was really good even at this early stage.

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Henry.

PAT CAHILL: 5/6/7 Easy Pieces

Wonderful stuff here and, on reflection, our favourite show of the entire weekend. Lots of wonderfully silly routines from a performer who comes over as really warm on stage. “What is Yellow?” will stay with us for ages. Someone we will always be looking to see again.

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Dave and Pat. (Dave is not THAT short, Pat was on a step!)

FOIL, ARMS AND HOG: Loch’d

Definitely the single funniest show of the weekend, and the slickest. Fantastic sketch work from Ireland’s finest. We saw this in Edinburgh (Show 287 of the record) on Carole’s birthday, which is a date shared by two of the trio. The healthy crowd was roaring throughout, as were we. Beer Roulette was great but my favourite is the Fish Net sketch. A truly wonderful end to a fantastic day of comedy. One of those days that will be tough to beat for the rest of the year.

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Beer Roulette.

Sunday

Because of a major accident on the A38, our hour journey turned into 2 ½ hours and so we were a few minutes late for our first show of the day.

GARETH RICHARDS: Comedy in the Key of Gareth

We have seen Gareth lots of times and never been disappointed. For a musical comedian he only actually plays three songs in his hour on his Qchord. Interspersing with some lovely audience interaction and monologues. Sadly a small crowd, but definitely one that appreciated what they were given.

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Gareth and Carole.

Because of losing Two Twisted Pairs we then had a two hour gap to pop to the shops and to the pub to get some dinner – which is unusual when we are at festivals, so we arrived fully sated for our penultimate show…

HARRIET KEMSLEY

An early outing for the first full hour from Harriet. And she is lovely on and off stage (when we gave her eggs from our chickens and a picture of the rescue girl we have named after her). She has a really engaging tone on stage, which will serve her well. A twist had happened a couple of weeks before which had totally screwed with the ending of the show. So, still a little work to get that right, but plenty of time. And a really enjoyable first hour which will, I am sure, be fantastic when it matters.

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Carole and Harriet.

And last but not least…

MIKE WOZNIAK: “One Man Dad Cat Band”

We love Mike. One of our absolute favourite acts. We saw a very early run out of this at last year’s festival, filling in for an act that had pulled out the day before. It was pretty ropey then but still great and now it is even better. By his own admission, this has been on the back burner for a while with all the TV work, but it was a hilarious shaggy cat tale from one of the most original acts going.

A fantastic end to a special weekend in a special venue.

(I was put off slightly by Mike having lost his moustache, which had temporarily been removed for an acting job and when he came and said hi before the show I did not recognise him at first!)

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