Staying in Liverpool for the night, thanks to being messed about (see Dave’s rant at the bottom re Baby Blue and others), we find ourselves enroute to Manchester to The Comedy Store.
After parking, following directions from a helpful local, we manage to locate the venue and wolf down a very nice pre-gig dinner. It’s soft drinks all round as we’re undecided on who’s driving home.
Our MC for the night is Ian Coppinger, a lovely Irishman. He fulfils his MC role admirably; banters with the audience (and there are plenty of characters to banter with!) including the five guys at the back dressed in dark suits, the people trailing in late, the Dutch girl at the front who is waaay too chatty with him and who soon regrets offering him her full glass of red wine. That’ll teach her! An all round good warmer upper, Ian does what it says on his job spec.
Next up, the wonderful Cary Marx. We were looking forward to another dollop of Cary’s dark deliciousness. He loves to make his audiences very uncomfortable and as comedy masochists – we were ready for it. We get a lovely set piece about a drug related event in a hotel bedroom – and another about vertically challenged people. Cary will give you a shot of wickedness and will then see just how far he can up the dose before you yell “enough”. We love it.
Into a break and then our short middle spot was Nina Gilligan – a newbie to us. She made jokes about her size, being a school teacher and Ofsted. We needed more time to see other material but being a Mancunian she went down very well with the local audience. One very tiddly young lady near us obviously thought that Nina was hysterically funny, given the loud screams of laughter that were being emitted!
Straight on then with no second break (thankfully for us, as we had to head back to Liverpool and our hotel afterwards!) were re-introduced to Dave Fulton, an American from Idaho, who we hadn’t seen since a Guild Hall gig in Gloucester several years ago.
With his corkscrew curls above a rugged face, and his long, lean body, Dave has been around for a long time, has lived through several intense experiences and it shows!
We get told about his marriage to a working class English girl (she’s a tough cookie too!), his adoption of a black son and he has a go at Germans, Canadians and the Dutch amongst others. He’s not afraid to tackle any subjects and his laconic, but laid back stage presence makes for easy listening. We enjoyed his performance immensely.
All in all, we really enjoyed our Manchester Comedy Store experience and I’d recommend the venue to anybody who enjoys a decent dinner, good service and a professional comedy line-up of excellent calibre.
We originally booked for Comedy Central at Baby Blue in Liverpool (on 4th July) as a stopover on the way back up to Edinburgh for the last few days of the Fringe. Matt Richardson and Pete Johannson being the principal draws. Hotel room having been booked with no refund at the same time. It was a toss up between Liverpool or Manchester and as it turned out the wrong one.
A couple of weeks before the gig, Pete Johannson disappeared from the lineup and it changed to say headliner to be confirmed.
I contacted the venue stressing that if the headliner was not someone we wanted to see then we would want a refund. As it was 4 days before we were told Pete was replaced by Vikki Stone. OK but, seeing as we had seen Vikki in Plymouth a couple of weeks before, this was not an ideal replacement for us. Especially when we were also told that Matt would no longer be doing the gig. We pondered the refund and decided to just go for it as it was walking distance from the hotel we were staying at. However, a few minutes later, I saw a tweet from Matt talking about being on a foreign beach and jokingly tweeted back asking whether this was the reason he had pulled the gig. Surprisingly the reply came that Matt was NEVER doing this gig and he was genuinely surprised to have been named. In disgust I went back to the promoter and got a refund. They seemed to think this naming of people who were never appearing was normal practice. As a punter I find it disgusting and this is exactly why live comedy is dying on its arse.
Two further examples have come about since, Plymouth BBar yet again had a four act lineup for 2nd September. This was named on their website and on Mirth Control’s pages. Two hours before the gig Carole rang up to see whether we could get tickets and to confirm the lineup. She was told. “We don’t know the lineup, we have to see who turns up”. Pathetic, and not the sort of thing that is going to get us to part with £20 plus the inevitable £20-40 on food and drink. (They do fantastic noodles). As it turned out, I later found that only the MC from the advertised lineup turned out to be performing. And it was a very mediocre typical Mirth Control bill.
Friday, 4th saw Plymouth Ski Lodge. Again a call to the venue an hour before saw no-one able to confirm the lineup. We do not know what it subsequently was. As the advertised headliner was someone we had seen quite recently we are also sure we did not miss anything by not going.
These are typical of virtually any local gig we want to go to. So where does the blame lay? Unreliable comics, Venues, Bookers who frequently lie? Any act will drop a South West gig in a heartbeat if something better comes up. Bookers show no responsibility to the venues, who subsequently do not care about the quality of their product as long as they sell the seats.
As many of the people on the South West charter of the new comics union are people directly involved in many of these monthly incidents, we wont hold our breath for any resolutions as they are clearly only there to serve their own interests.
Back to Liverpool, 5pm and we called the Comedy Store in Manchester to see whether tickets available and then sped across during rush hour for food and the show.
MC. Ian Coppinger, Opener Carey Marx, Open Spot Nina Gilligan, Headliner Dave Fulton.
I am not going to write anything about the gig as Carole took all the notes and she can complete this when back from her Paris jaunt (see top – Carole!). From my perspective a very good trip and very worth it. Dave Fulton signed Steve Best’s Comedy Snapshot book. But we missed Nina in the same book as we did not know she was on until she appeared and she was gone again by the end of the show. No break between her and Dave.
And so to Edinburgh in the morning.