Catch Up Post – 18th February – 29th March 2015

We have had a busy few weeks and apart from being away a bit we have been redecorating our guest bedroom with a comedy theme. Hence no posts for a while and a lot of catching up to do. So this will just be a brief post with observations of our last few shows to get back up to date.

18th February 2015 – Plymouth Pavilions – Omid Djalili – Iranalamadingdong

Last time we saw Omid live was at the grand finale of the Cardiff Comedy Festival a couple of years back and we have a wonderful time.

Tonight was a terrific show again, but why was it so empty? Especially when we had the bonus of the wonderful Boothby Graffoe supporting.

Omid Djalili

Omid Djalili

4th March 2015 – Plymouth B-Bar Paul Revill (MC), Jamie Gosney (Opener), Kevin Ross, Craig Leggo (middle), Nick Revell (closing)

We were tempted back to the B-Bar for a Mirth line-up which actually had four new acts for us. We were glad we did as this was one of the best Mirth shows we had seen in some time. Paul Revill did a great job as MC, engaging us from start to finish. Carole commented she thought he was the best MC she had seen in ages. Jamie Gosney did a solid, if unspectacular opening spot. This did surprise us as we expected Aussie Craig Leggo to be opening. We think they swapped so Craig could share the middle spots with his fellow Aussie Kevin Ross, who was a surprise late addition to the bill. Kevin was OK, but we would have preferred to see more of Craig who was really good. But nothing could eclipse Nick Revell, who did a blistering closing spot with a lot of very topical and political material. Overall, a very good night, and for once not totally spoilt by drunk hecklers.

Paul Revill, Craig Leggo, Kevin Ross, Jamie Gosney, Nick Revell

Paul Revill, Craig Leggo, Kevin Ross, Jamie Gosney, Nick Revell

6th March 2015 – Dartmouth Flavel – Pete Firman, with support from Danny Buckler.

A late addition to our schedule, largely because of Danny being in support, having seen Pete during Edinburgh. Also two potential autographs in Steve Best’s Comedy Snapshot book. As it turned out, I got Danny but missed Pete. No matter, we had a terrific time and so did the assembled throng. Well worth the long trip. We will never see Danny without remembering a truly great pub gig he did a couple of years ago in Horrorbridge after three of the acts broke down and could not make the gig. He gets better. Pete is probably the best comedy magician in the world.

11th March 2015 – Bigmouth Comedy Totnes – Chris Brooker (MC), Bobby Mair (Opener), Harriet Kemsley (Middle), Philberto (Closing)

To be honest, we probably would not have gone to this night if it had not been to see Philberto. We saw Harriet a few weeks before and expected nothing new tonight but another solid set. We saw Bobby at Edinburgh and many times before and love his dark material and he went down a storm again here. Chris did his usual great job MC’ing this gig. It was a sell out, and a great atmosphere from start to finish. Milo McCabe has been an Edinburgh fixture for us for three years, his characters have depth and nuance. Surprisingly we had never seen Philberto his club creation, and it was good to at last. Masterclass of character comedy yet again from a very talented individual.

Milo McCabe, Bobby Mair, Harriet Kemsley, Chris Brooker

Milo McCabe, Bobby Mair, Harriet Kemsley, Chris Brooker

13th March 2015 – Comedy Carnival & The Comedy Store, London

We had a weekend planned in London following the Totnes gig. It was to see our favourite band on the Saturday but I couldn’t let the opportunity pass without fitting in some comedy. So off we drove at lunchtime on the Friday to our B&B in Islington where we were originally due to see Mark Watson’s Comedywealth Games, until they were pulled a few days before.

I replaced this show with a visit to Bar Rumba for Comedy Carnival. Principally because the advertised line-up included three acts I had yet to get to sign Steve Bests book. As it turned out Ben Norris was replaced by David Morgan so we were down to two. The gig manager was very helpful in sorting out the autographs and it was a very good gig indeed. Our only criticism was. We paid an extra few quid for guaranteed seats, but this just gave us a name on some seats in the second row which was very tight to get in and out of. And most people were removing their names and sitting where they wanted.

On the positive side, there were some good drinks offers and we got a bottle of wine to share for a tenner which was great for London. And even better, the comedy was fab. David Morgan MC’d and was his usual charming engaging self. Steve Williams, who we hadn’t see before opened and was our highlight of the gig, terrific stuff, and he took time out to have a quick chat and sign the book in the interval.

Next up a big favourite of ours, Brett Goldstein, whose Edinburgh show two years ago was a big highlight of our festival, and who I saw again last summer when I popped up for the Pleasance Birthday party.

Finally, Pete Jonas, an Aussie with a lot of good material. But who missed the start of the gig and so missed a golden opportunity for some banter with some Spanish material of his, had he known he had a Spaniard in the front row.

All in all a really good gig, which just highlighted how poor many of the regional comedy club nights are in Devon & Cornwall.

From here we walked a few yards down the road for the Comedy Store late show. An absolutely cracking lineup and fantastic show, with a highlight being the girl in the front row who can back to her seat and sat on her boyfriends pizza. Alun Cochrane did sterling work as MC. Adam Bloom a top notch opening spot Suzy Bennett was a bonus to the lineup doing an open spot, then Pierre Hollins finished the first half with style. Pierre had become the 100th signature in Steve Best’s book before the gig began. But I missed Adam Bloom who snuck out while Pierre was onstage.

The second half gave us the wonderful Stu Goldsmith who we also wanted to sign the book, but he left while the headliner, the legend, Phil Nichol was on. Never mind though as I am sure we will add him when we see him doing a work in progress at Machynlleth.

We first saw Phil on the first night of our first Edinburgh and have loved him ever since. He is confrontational, surreal, and always grabs the audience by the nuts and drags them along with him. A brilliant night.

14th March 2015 – Radiant Vermin, Soho Theatre

A comedy play on the Saturday afternoon to fill the time before the concert. This was dark comedy, starring Gemma Whelan.

Terrifically wicked, great performances. Carole enjoyed slightly more than me as I found the detail a bit too far fetched, but loved the message behind it. Top stuff.

20th March 2015 – Kings Arms, Tamerton Foliot. Jamie Gosney (MC), Andrew Watts (Opener), Tim Ballantine, Mia Lane (Middles), Matt Price (Closing)

First comedy night at Tamerton Foliot for a while and a bit of a weird one. Helen, the landlady, has gone to a lot of effort to put these nights on, but the locals aren’t really supporting. It was an absolute bargain at a mere £7.50 which included a curry (appreciated by Carole and our friend Marie, who came along with us, as they happily devoured seconds.

Apart from us, there were four members of Mia’s family along to see her (she originally hails from Plymouth) and a handful of locals. So a weird atmosphere, compounded by the fact we arrived to find Jamie there and to hear that the rest of the acts, in one car, would be and hour and a half late due to traffic problems.

Finally the gig kicked off with a section that left us gobsmacked. On last New Year’s Eve, one of the locals got murdered outside the pub after the celebrations. It shocked and united the community and I think Jamie’s opening gambit of joking about the murder, was not only unwise, but deeply disturbing, as it immediately put the gig under stress. If there had been some more locals there at this point, I believe he could have been in serious trouble.

Andrew Watts is very familiar to us, and he did a sterling job bringing things back on track with his material from his Feminism for Chaps show. Top notch again. Then Tim Ballantine who we had seen a mere few weeks before in Brixham. Material was largely the same but did not have quite the same bite second time around. He is a strong performer but definitely cameover as more of an actor performing, rather than someone making a connection with the audience.

A break, then Jamie again trying some new material, which quite frankly did not work. He forgot where he was part way through the routine and resorted to reading it from a piece of paper. Ok fine, but he backtracked a long way and made us hear it all again to the point he had got lost. Not a good night for him.

Mia Lane was on next, and was the only new act for us on the evening. For someone so new, her delivery was good, she had touched of surreal, and at least tried some different things. Very good.

Finally our friend and, in our opinion, the finest storytelling comic out there – Matt Price. He played to the entire crowd, with particular emphasis on a strange old chap whose wife was at choir practise. We heard for the first time a lot of Matt’s new stories and they were great. And come Edinburgh we hope he gets some of the recognition he deserves.

All in all a weird show and, as you often get with a Mirth night, a night of extreme highs and lows. Unfortunately, with the low turnout and the cost of the night to put on, I seriously doubt this has a future as a night. A shame for us as it is so close to home.

25th March 2015 – Hall For Cornwall – Dylan Moran

I have always enjoyed Dylan,and was very excited about seeing him again. A lovely drive down to Truro and dinner before the show and we turned up with tickets right at the front for this sold out performance. The start was delayed by ten minutes with people getting seated before he ambled on to stage and went into his whimsical ramblings.

He had a backdrop showing his paintings in the background. And to be perfectly frank it was a massive distraction and highlighted how weak the material was overall. There were laughs but not constant. And a couple of persistent hecklers also stopped momentum. As well as Dylan himself abandoning a couple of stories because, as he said himself, they were not working.

The planned encore was another weak parody of 50 shades of Grey, and all in all, one of the most disappointing big name shows I have ever seen. And as for length, the show started at 7:40 and finished at 9:10 with a very long interval. Barely an hour of material and no support. With over an hour drive to get home we actually made it before most big Plymouth shows would actually be finished.

26th March 2015 – Blue Bar, Porthtowan. Karen Bayley (MC), Sully O’Sullivan (Opener), Andrew O’Neill (Closer)

Another very long drive down to check out a new venue for us. The weather was lovely and we got to the venue on the beach in time to enjoy a lovely sunset and meal before the show. Sully arrived early ad we had a good catch up chat with the amiable Kiwi who was hobbling about with a stick due to a five a side football injury.

We seated ourselves with a bunch of seven ladies on a night out, and waited for the show to kick off, Karen Bayley who we had previously seen opening in Plymouth did a cracking job as MC for the night, playing her cougar act with a young lad at the front, whose girlfriend was loving him getting ribbed.

Sully came on and absolutely tore it to pieces, with material that we had largely seen as part of his excellent Edinburgh show ‘Nationhood’. Very clever stuff about national identities.

A break then Karen did another good stint before bringing on the whimsical and weird Andrew O’Neill. It was a hit and miss headlining stint, with some bits falling completely flat and seeming to be purely for his own amusement. Constantly shouting out Bromley is a bit wearing after a while. The highlight of his set came largely due to the audience’s stupid contributions to being invited to shout out Michael Jackson song titles.

Sully would have better headlined this night, which was nonetheless, one of the most enjoyable club nights we have attended this year. The ambience and location itself can often make the night as well as the material, and we were thoroughly chilled out after a lovely evening.

Sully O'Sullivan, Andrew O'Neill, Karen Bayley

Sully O’Sullivan, Andrew O’Neill, Karen Bayley

29th March 2015 – Exeter Bikeshed – Birthday Girls & Mae Martin (Works In Progress)

A long trip to Exeter on a Sunday evening for a show starting at 9:15pm with the prospect of an early up for work in the morning. Not so for Carole, now on Easter holidays from school for a couple of weeks.

Well worth it though, with Mae Martin trying out some new material and going down a storm before the Birthday Girls tried out some new sketches also knocking it out of the park. A very healthy, if not partisan, crowd. Made a long trip well worth it. We hadn’t seen Mae live since the final of the Amused Moose at Edinburgh a couple of years back and she strikes us a modest and unassuming, but funny, and with something to say. A big hit in the Chapple household. As for the girls, they never fail to raise a laugh, and the new sketched were all winners, bar the snake one, for us.

Dave.

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