Somethings We Know…
But it was with a muttered “What are we doing – we must be mad – traipsing all the way down the A38/A30 to a gig, which will finish late, the day before a very early start for the mighty Machfest?” that we got ourselves down a wee bit nearer the pointy end to the lovely beachfront cafe that is the Blue Bar.
If this cafe was anymore beachfront, it would be in the sea; there are alcoved, large (but sadly, always full!) window seats out to the ocean, sand everywhere on the wooden floorboards and the young , mostly male barstaff are all ruddy faced and blonde streaked salty hair. They are also very pleasant and very good at their jobs (one went off promptly when asked, to check out the vegan options for me and came back to explain my choices) and very numerate (Dave was impressed at the guy who added up our bill at the end of the night without recourse to a calculator and/or till buttons).
Anyway, enough of the ambiance. After the food and top ups of drinks, we vacated our table (it was very busy and people were hunting for table space) and got ourselves down into the performance space itself which is off to one side and down some stairs. We were table seated at the front and to the left of stage (although the organiser gave us a choice of right up front or at the back and I’m too short to see over anyone at all, so up front it was).
We started pretty much on time, Pat Gallagher was our MC for the evening and a very good job he did too, soon getting the crowd on side, with a few comments going to the young people taking up a very long centre table perpendicular to the stage. Pat tossed his hat to one side and got on with the banter, including the observation that with his balding head he’s been told he has a resemblance to a well known chef who likes to involve a bit of chemistry and physics in the kitchen.
Our first act to be introduced was Brad Tassell, an American from Santa Claus, Indiana. Brad also had some material on who he looks like, Robin Williams being one of the most common. Brad’s a nice guy, of Thumper likemindedness (if you can’t say something nice don’t say nothin’ at all) and although not breaking any great comedy barriers, Brad gave us a pleasant enough opening act and the punters seemed to be enjoying themselves.
Into a break before our middle spot – Sandra Hale, a self announced 63 year old lady who looks a whole lot younger. Her material was, tonight, mostly based around her views on the world from a mature woman’s standpoint and mainly on the blue side of the colour spectrum. Her own version of The Farmer Has A Wife rounded off the spot and off she went to some applause.
Our second obligatory break and onto our top spot, and the main reason that we had made the 110 mile round trip this evening, Ian Cognito. I’m not sure what else there is to say about Ian that we haven’t said already. His set opening catchphrase “Some things I know, some things I’ll never know” is enough to put a smile on my face before he even utters another word. He has been on the comedy circuit for three decades, but thanks to his unpredictability and probably some of his material, TV producers treat him like a piece of plutonium, powerful, full of energy, but far too dangerous to handle. A shame – in his own circles he is a comedic legend. He has blazed a trail for many others to follow. Nothing is beyond the pale for Ian, but all told so cleverly that our audience weren’t sure whether to be offended or not – and there is a valid point behind each “seemingly offensive” slingshot. Wee truth bombs were never lit with longer fuses.
The crowd was getting a 10/10 from us on the behaviour scale until one, obviously inebriated eejit, got up literally two mins from the end of Cognito’s set and made a move towards the door with his wife. Ian couldn’t let him go without comment which led to a couple of very awkward minutes while the punter slurred negative comments about Ian’s act and his poor wife apologising and rebutting his comments as they finally got through the packed tables, up the stairs and out of the door! It took the room a few minutes to refocus and let our headliner finish his set, and congratulations to him for bringing it back as well as he did.
We got back home around 11.30pm and set to packing our stuff for Machynlleth and the best short comedy festival in the UK. But that’s a tale for the next blog!
Ian Cognito, Sandra Hale, Brad Tassell (Pat Gallagher was elsewhere!)