April – Fools, Fundraising, Funnies and Fundamentalism

Friday the 1st of April saw us heading into Plymouth for dinner and then Jonny and the Baptists who were doing their gig The End is Nigh at The Drum Theatre. I must admit to some surprise when entering the Drum to find that the layout was as it had been for Every Brilliant Thing, i.e. an “in the round” type layout but with the chairs laid out in four double rows, so an “in the square” if we are being pedantic. This was definitely going to be interesting …

The boys presented their songs but in a more narrative form, working the space, keeping on the move, not presenting their backs to any one area of the audience for more than a few seconds. Paddy (the Baptists) was sitting, standing, moving, and dancing, all the while holding his guitar, supporting with the vocals, bashing out a rhythm with his feet when necessary; he never stopped. Jonny kept the narrative flowing and the audience engaged with his original, soulful voice.

We’ve seen the lads so many times, but we never stop going back for more; in fact we’ve just bought tickets for their show on the 14th May at the Bikeshed Theatre in Exeter. A repeat of the same show, but then with a preview of their next show after the interval. Tickets are only a tenner , definitely value for money.

Two days later on the Sunday we had a long drive up to Wells, The Little Theatre for an evening’s comedy. The line-up: Jarred Christmas in MC role, Ivo Graham, Lolly Adefope and Trygve Wakenshaw. Everyone gave good performances but for me it was Trygve, who I’d never seen before (Dave had in Edinburgh) was a revelation to me. Every move, from his chicken at the beginning to his “Owww! Better?” at the end was the best mime I have ever seen. A signature pose would end every “sketch” and us, the audience, had to pay close attention and try to keep up! Just wonderful. A definite recommendation from me.

Friday the 8th and here we are down at the Falmouth Poly for Mitch Benn and Don’t Believe A Word. We’d seen Mitch before at the Phoenix in Exeter when he was doing “Mitch Benn is the 37th Beatle”. We’d concluded then that we really needed to be bigger Beatles fan than we were to get the most out of this show but Mitch was very good at what he did. Tonight’s show was another kettle of fish, observational comedy and guitar and thoroughly enjoyable. We picked up some merch at the end, a CD of the show for our comedy collection.

The next evening, Saturday the 9th and something a bit different. We’d helped to set up and publicise a comedy gig for Damian Kingsley in the local Saltash Football Clubhouse. Damian is currently doing his Knock Knock tour and will finish it in Edinburgh in August. He started in Lands End and is doing 120 gigs for Shelter, the homeless charity. He is throwing himself upon the mercy of the British public, touring with no transport, no accommodation booked and no money to feed himself. The events are not ticketed but an exit collection is taken and all the proceeds go to the charity. At our event we had Mark Dennett MCing, Richard James, David Arnold and Nick Banks all supporting Damian in his efforts for Shelter. Including a raffle we’d also organised we managed to raise £175 despite the room not being hugely busy. We continue to follow Mark’s tour with interest.

A very busy weekend it was altogether, as for our third night in a row we were off to comedy! This time Mark Watson and his “I’m Not Here” tour at the Corn Exchange in Exeter.

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Mark’s comedy is here, there and everywhere. We go off at tangents, we hear about the £24k watch (yes, really – that’s more than my first venture on the property ladder!). There are hints of past problems, future paranoias and all told in Mark’s best bumbling manner. Observational, vulnerable, open and honest. Some comedians keep their private lives all bottled up – Mark lets it out, but just a bit at a time to keep us coming back for more.

With a cancellation from Bridget Christie at the same venue (19th), due to a 48 hour illness that laid her low ( A Bug for Her – if you will) it was nearly two weeks before our next gig – Max and Ivan’s “The End” at the Lantern (Colston Hall) in Bristol (yes, yes, another long drive). We’d seen this as at the very first run through in Wales; the boys were reading from scripts at our most favourite festival Machfest, last year. It was fabulous then; it is beyond wonderful now. The scene where I let out the yelp last year got an audible inwards gasp this time around. We were with friends and everyone enjoyed it. Our favourite sketch act. No contest.

The last night of April and we finish as we started the month – with a gig. This time and as a hour long drive and stepping stone up the road towards our – we weren’t going but couldn’t resist – shortened, yearly pilgrimage to Wales for Machfest, we stopped at the Exeter Corn Exchange to see Shazia Mirza and The Kardashians Made Me Do It.

With plenty of self mocking banter, Shazia’s show revolves around her faith, her culture, her colour and its clash with being “British” (according to Americans) and what young British Muslim girls get out of buggering off to Syria to join ISIS. What are they looking for? Shazia will tell you, repeatedly. Where does Anne Summers come in all this? Go and see the show and find out. We both enjoyed the show, “clever, intelligent stand-up; attacking ISIS by laughing at them” (Dave’s quote) and the rest of the (not full) room seemed to as well.

That (phew) was April. Now bring on the Summer!

Carole.

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