Sat 25th April 2015 – Brendan Riley (MC), David Whitney, Jollyboat and Carl Hutchinson. Laughs Comedy Club, Bristol.

In retrospect, it’s quite strange to review this gig. I won’t tell you why yet – I’ll tell you at the end, because I don’t want to colour the views of anyone reading it.

Going all the way up to Bristol for one gig seems a little excessive, but it was a bank holiday on the Monday and there was also an event running in the Lloyds Amphitheatre that I wanted to attend (Bristol Vegfest – a large vegan/veggie festival). We were also going to meet up with some old friends (from when Dave used to work in Bristol many years ago).

Laughs Comedy Club’s venue was at The Cuban, a bar just off Millennium Square. We went into the bar, and then in through another door, separately manned by some friendly door people who checked us off their list.

We soon had our inclusive food ordered and drinks on the go (Dave was on a jug of cider) and shortly after our friends arrived and by the time we’d all caught up with each other, the show was about to start. The room wasn’t full by any means, but we had enough for atmosphere. Someone was coming around selling raffle tickets, prizes being free jugs of beer/cider or free tickets to the next show, so we bought a few, not expecting anything to come of it.

First up was our MC Brendan Riley. A cheeky chappy who made much of the fact that one of the front row audience members looked quite a bit like him – i.e. bald and wearing glasses. They were even dressed similarly. To the back of the “wider than long” room was a threesome made up of two blokes and one young lady, who were all a bit three sheets to the wind and noisy with it. Brendan fulfilled his MC role well and introduced our opening act, the lovely David Whitney.

We’ve seen David at least three time before, firstly at the Edinburgh Fringe in and twice later in Bristol  and he almost always comes up trumps. To be totally fair, the Edinburgh one was extremely hard work; (Late and Live and absolutely horrible – we actually walked out of this show as it was full of drunken, noisy students and totally unbearable). This time around David delivers a smooth, seamless twenty plus minutes. Born in Scotland (hurrah) he tells us he has problems when he announces this anywhere north of the border, because he hasn’t the faintest tint of tartan in his voice at all, but I have to award him mega points because he also tells us that he plays the bagpipes, and marmite though they may be (you either love ’em or hate ’em), anybody who plays the pipes is a goodie in my book and I make no apologies for it! David had some good material as well, it’s not all about my love of all things Scottish!

Next up (no break, hurrah!) we were straight aboard with Jollyboat. Two brothers, Tommy and Ed, one singing, one playing acoustic guitar, piratical and quite, quite mad. Tonight their act consisted of several pirate alter versions of well known tunes, plus lots of physical larking about with obscene looking, pink balloon swords (one which was “won” by the drunken trio and the ensuing squeaky balloon noises were extremely irritating for the next few minutes) and then we had some flip chart type comedy using keyboard shortcut pictures (you really had to be there)!! I liked these guys, manic and very good fun; they certainly went down well with the Bristol punters.

Into the only break of the night, when they drew the raffle and David found out to his surprise that he’d won four tickets for the next show (!!) and then a bit more of Brendan, who had his pic taken with his “twin” and then we were introduced to Carl Hutchinson – again an act we’ve seen before (twice), at the legendary Chris Ramsay show in the Barbican Theatre ( and briefly mentioned here when blogging Day 16 of last year’s Fringe). Anyway, Carl had a bunch of new material, mixed up with a teeny bit of stuff from the Fringe show (old men in gyms etc) but he’s a smooth operator and he played the room like a pro. He’s got plenty of charisma on stage and plenty of confidence and gave us a well practised set which everyone enjoyed as far as we could see!

So, we’d enjoyed our night, the staff were lovely and helpful and the crowd seemed to have liked what they’d seen. We came out with a very positive feeling about it all (despite the squeaky balloon, drunken idiots) and I said it was going to be a nice night to review – nothing wrong with the comedy and everything right with it, even winning in the raffle! We planned to come up again the following Friday, use the tickets and stay over as we were due to see Nick Helm plus others in Wells on the following Saturday.

However, the following Wednesday, two days before our trip up, we heard that The Cuban had been closed down due to problems with their roof and that Laughs Comedy Club would not be running. Various rumours were flying around about what the problem actually was, and then we heard that the organisers had closed the club, possibly because of lack of numbers – who knows? Here’s what Chortle has to say about it. Shame really – on the evidence we’d seen, being quite well run, decent food and lovely staff, this night could have been a runner! The only one we ever saw turned out to be the last Laughs!




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