2015 – Shows of the year and a personal review.

In 2015 we saw 230 shows (although Carole did not come to Edinburgh so missed out on a lot of them). We chose our top ten shows of the year by choosing our individual fifteen favourite shows and giving them points from 1-15 then adding them up. As it turns out our top ten features nine shows that we BOTH has in our top fifteen. The ones that might have missed out, because I saw them and Carole didn’t, are “John-Luke Roberts: Stdad-Up”, “Spencer Jones Presents: The Herbert in Proper Job” and “Larry Dean – Out Now”.

There are not many pure stand up shows in the list; I don’t think this is because we have gone off this side of things, we saw some magnificent shows this year. But in an ocean of 20-30 something stand up, the buoys of individualism and originality can be the lifesavers of comedy.

We are glad to see the rise of story telling, and it appears our friend Matt Price is getting more recognised, which pleases us immensely, as he is as good as anyone out there.

What we have been sad to see is the lack of good local clubs. We finally abandoned going to The B-Bar and Ski Lodge, because we had no way of finding out the line ups and long ago gave up on Annabel’s. With the exception of the still outstanding Plymouth Comedy Club, there is very little to go to apart from largely open mic level clubs masquerading as pro clubs. Rather than waste considerable money with these we find it better value for money to make further trips and get much better quality acts. That being said, we feel there are some very good comics coming through in the local area, but do not want to see them EVERY time we go to a gig.

We do not like the practice of comics and their agents double and triple booking gigs and then going to what suits them. How can promoters work with that? Not many clubs are really well supported, because of the poor quality acts and bad organisation of people may result in them turning up once, having a bad experience then never go again. Anyway, our complaints have been well documented and this post is about celebrating the best. So here is our top ten of 2015.

10. Keiran Hodgson – Lance.

Character comedy at its best and a very heartwarming tale from a man who seemed to be in everything comedy shown over Christmas. There is still a chance to catch this on tour in the new year. For South West Friends Kieran Hodgson

9. Sam Simmons: Spaghetti for Breakfast.

This was the only show on the list that Carole did not see. A masterful piece of surreal comedy with an underlying theme of abuse. I was very pleased to see it win best show at Edinburgh though also adored Sarah Kendall’s show.

8. Bentley’s Electric Cabaret.

The only comedy club type show on the list. Seven acts, none of whom would have made the list on their own, who combined into a perfect (and very long) show to wow an audience in an absolutely beautiful venue.

7. Brendon Burns – Outside the Box. Bristol Cube.

One of our favourite acts with another winner of a show. A man who does not like the comedy infrastructure and so organises his gigs his own way and does not care where the ‘line’is.

5=. Beth Vyse – As Funny As Cancer.

When we first saw this in Machynlleth in May as a very early work in progress, it had a plot, but not the humour needed to lighten the subject matter. By the time Edinburgh came around it was tight, but still with some chaos, and very funny.

A very personal show, tackling an unfunny subject and making it funny. While Alistair Barrie was getting plaudits for his ‘Cancer’ show, this largely snuck under the radar but was a better show and has continued to grow since. Still a chance to see in Exeter in February – you would be stupid not to go! We will be there to see it one more time. Beth Vyse

5=. Sleeping Trees – Western.

This was an Edinburgh preview. Boy was it funny. A Western with the three boys playing all the parts. Hilarious from start to finish. And the tumbleweed – possibly the funniest single moment of the entire year. We also saw them perform Mafia and Cinderella and the Beanstalk this year and they were great.

4. Goose – Goose & Kablamo

Adam Drake and Ben Rowse comprise Goose. Though you would be forgiven for thinking there is only Adam, as he does virtually everything. We first saw them at Machynlleth in May and Dave also got to see the follow up Kablamo in Edinburgh. One man stories where Adam plays all the characters at breakneck pace. No one works harder in a show. Simply breathtaking, do not miss them if you get a chance.

2=. Every Brilliant Thing.

Probably classed as a play, but it was funny, sad and totally different. Made us laugh, made us cry. Brilliantly cast one man show with Johnny Donohoe from “Johnny and the Baptists” and a ton of audience interaction.

2=. Sarah Kendall – One Day in October, John Robins – Speakeasy.

A wonderful double bill at Bristol Tobacco Factory just before the Fringe where the shows were fully formed but still officially in preview. Sarah’s show was my (Dave) top show of the year. A masterful piece of storytelling. John goes from strength to strength. Add them together and it was a very special night.

1. Max & Ivan – The End.

We have been huge fans of Max and Ivan since the start of our own adventure following comedy. Their previous shows have been astonishing. But this was their best yet.

Essentially a two person play, where they bring to life a wealth of characters. In an hour they transport you to another place and build these characters into people you care about. So deeply was Carole immersed in this very early preview that she let out an involuntary cry when something happened to one of the characters.

It takes a very special talent to immerse an audience so deeply into a work of fiction.

They also do ‘The Wrestling’ at Edinburgh which is the biggest and best show of the year!

Catch them on tour in 2016. Max & Ivan

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