Since our last post we have had a relatively quiet month with six very different shows.
After our farewell post we went to the inaugural Plymouth Comedy Grove night at the New Continental Hotel on the 20th September. The line up was as advertised with the addition of an extra middle. Simon Feilder (MC), Tom Toal (Opener), George Rigden & Nick Banks (Middles) and Junior Simpson closing. A good night comedy wise but a very small, and in one area, a very strange crowd. The sound and lighting setup was very poor, something that needs to be sorted before the second night in February. Overall, we hope this night does grow as it has a lot of potential. It was somewhat soured by an encounter with someone not directly associated with the night, who wanted to talk to me about comments in a previous blog. I went to the loo first as planned by which time they had changed their mind and told me to go and enjoy the show and they would see me later, they didn’t.
4th October saw us making a long Sunday evening trip to the Regal Theatre in Redruth for their third comedy night. A very good line up of Kevin McCarthy (MC), Paul Myrehaug and Rich Wilson (opening section) and Dave Johns (closing). Couldn’t really fault the comedy, but a small crowd of around sixty people in a large theatre is unsustainable. Sunday evening is a difficult one for comedy and we have never seen anything similar last long. Also we have never really seen a long running club in Cornwall. The venue doesn’t have any more nights in its current calendar, so we would not be surprised to see another one having bitten the dust.
The following night saw us making a similar length distance to Exeter Bikeshed for some performance poetry with John Osbourne and Molly Naylor. I had seen John in Edinburgh in August. We had not seen Molly, but had planned to at Machynlleth a couple of years ago before laryngitis saw her cancel at the last moment. A Cornish lass she was in particular a big hit for us. Again, though, it was sad to see an audience of a dozen.
Saturday 10th saw us making another trip to Exeter Northcott for their inaugural Jongleurs Comedy night. The crowd was 112, so needs to pick up to be sustainable. We did have problems with the lineup on this one with three changes happening a few weeks before. Two of these were to the MC and the first led to me catching out the act and his agent in a lie. The venue and Jongleurs were not to blame here, as I found out about the changes before they did! For once, however, the changes were positive for us. it was pretty much the best lineup we have had in Devon/Cornwall at a club night all year. Sally-Ann Hayward was on tip top form as MC, UK Pun Champion Leo Kearse (as Punman) was hugely entertaining along with Damian Kingsley in the first section. Then we had a treat with Luisa Omielan closing the show. One break and a good finish time, meant we were not home at a ridiculous time as is often the case with our trips. We note that their next night has already sold a few more tickets. My one telling point here was that when Sally-Ann asked, there was only one student in the entire audience. As the Northcott is right in the middle of Exeter University Campus this is a big surprise. That is, until you realise the tickets were £16 each which would price students out. This price even made us baulk and we have not decided whether or not we can afford to fit the next one into our already overcrowded November schedule. They are offering £8 standby tickets for students but that still obviously didn’t work. Interesting times ahead indeed and we really hope it does pick up as the quality is far better than anything else we see locally.
Friday 16th saw us making our regular trip to the Plymouth Comedy Club at the Plymouth Albion Rugby Ground. We had been looking forward to this one for a while. Disaster struck for the organisers at 6pm when headliner George Egg rang to say his gearbox had fallen out on the A38 on the way from Brighton and would not be there. An emergency call out saw a complete rearrangement of the night. Chris Brooker was his usual self MC’ing. Penella Mellor opened (was due to middle) with her dark material on being a mother. Good stuff, but not a massive response from the audience. Louis Burgess, emergency replacement, then blew the roof off in the middle section. We have seen him many times, but his set is now very tight with a running theme, and he was by far the highlight of the night. Also highlighting once again the talent we do have in the South West, which Carole and I tend to take for granted occasionally having seen most of them so many times! Headliner Danny Pensive (due to open) got a mixed reception. We are big fans of this character act, but it didn’t really work as a headline act, it seemed to go on too long and the audience lost patience after a while. Personally, I would query the intended bill as a whole. originally planned as strange character act, dark middle, cabaret act headliner. If it had not have been for the introduction of Louis and a bit more upbeat humour it could have been an interesting night for the wrong reasons. Still, we were lucky to get a night at all bearing in mind the last minute disaster and this was hopefully just a blip in the history of the best club night in Plymouth.
Our final trip out for October was on Saturday 17th lunchtime for a talk as part of the Plymouth International Book Festival. Helen Lederer, introduced by Judi Spiers talking about her new novel ‘Losing It’. A very interesting hour highlighting once again the gulf between male and female comedy in Britain. The other interesting fact for me was that she once got paid 70K for doing a dishwasher tablet ad. WHAT!