July 2016– Fringe previews and other performances by Carole
July was a busy month for us comedy wise, and with many comics making the annual pilgrimage to Edinburgh, it was always going to be “practise” gigs, Edinburgh previews with the comedians honing and finetuning as they went along, that became the norm. Notes become de rigeur and the audience contribute to the writing process as they either fall about, or look askance, at their entertainer.
However, there were some entertainers who were NOT doing previews, and one of them was Sara Pascoe, with her tour show Animal, (the same name as her recent, excellent, book).
Bridgwater Arts Centre on 2nd July
In a well paced set, Sara’s told us of ruses to get drugs (with a friend as a teen!), oblique references to her boyfriend (another well known comedian), with one particular comment around his making sure she was covered for life insurance soon after they began living together!
The dangers of having selfies taken with “fans” is another subject covered; always be prepared for the unexpected!
Immediately after this gig, I was dropping Dave back down the road to Plymouth Bus Station, where he had signed up for the delights of a Megabus to:
Sunday 3rd July
London Gigs – Shoreditch Town Hall – 3 rooms.
Dave had a lovely day watching:
(Dave: All great previews – had a lovely day)
Hosts – Robyn Perkins, Jess Fostekew, Garrett Millerick
Wed 6th July B-Bar (I know, I know, we’re not supposed to be doing local club nights anymore, but Dave had heard that Doug Segal was going to be there and really wanted to see him).
Our MC Adam Broomfield-Stron was obviously well into his weight training/gym and was dressed to impress, with a bodyclinging tshirt cut low round his very sturdy neck.
Rory O’Hanlon was our first act; hailing from Dublin, full of the craic and equally good at bantering with the audience. A good opener.
Our headliner, mind reader and magician, Doug Segal, was a large, loud and hairy force of nature. A range of tricks using words, sleight of hand and hidden objects were very clever, and not easily unpicked. The punters however, weren’t as appreciative as they could have been. Again, a typical B-Bar Club night with a typical club crowd.
Friday 8th July, Sandy Park, Exeter
Our first time at this venue, and for a club night! Yes, yes I know, make rules, break rules, but again, the line-up looked interesting and we were curious…
The venue was a large function room at the very swish and swank looking Sandy Park, the ground of the prestigious Exeter Chiefs rugby team. The tables were also large, round and ours was shared with a couple of lads who were very well behaved and seemed, from what they told us, to be proper comedy fans instead of just being “out for an evening where comedy just happens to be part of it”.
Our MC for the evening was Dave Ward who we’d seen before in Coventry and Edinburgh and the show was slightly late to start. Food, in the shape of various curries, had been served (although we’d eaten before we came out and didn’t partake) and I think this slowed things up somewhat.
Dave got us off to a slowish start with some slightly dodgy joke introductions, but as he got into his stride, bantered with the crowd fairly well and did what he was hired to do, get the punters warmed up and ready for their first act…Javier Jarquin
Javier has been seen many times by us in both his stand-up and Card Ninja sets and we weren’t sure which one we were getting. In the end, Javier gave us stand-up, but what stand-up! Comically, he has grown exponentially since we first saw him deliver jokes on stage. More life experience (Javier has got married) meant cleverly structured storylines around his home set-up and a more feminist viewpoint from our man. Javier stays home and does the housework while his lady earns during the day as a Management Consultant, then Javier does his earnings share in the evenings. He was quick to praise his wife and women in general for what they have to put up with from men which earned him brownie points from me for sure!
Sheer co-incidence meant that for the second time in a few days, we were to see Rory O’Hanlon the Irishman! He gave us more ginger jokes and some material on the EU in/out debate and some other, ever-so-slightly twisted material around his now extinct marriage.
Our headliner for the night was Rich Morton, a man who has been in the comedy business for more than thirty years. A lovely guy, Rich delivered guitar backed spoof covers of well known tunes from a range of several decades, plus his own cheeky ditties to add to the fun.
All in all, an entertaining evening and well worth the trip up to Exeter.
Just a few days later, on the following Tuesday, we were back in Exeter for a double up of Edinburgh previews.
Tuesday 12th July, Exeter Phoenix.
Kieran Boyd – Egg
A preview that seemed, at this late stage, to be almost fully formed. This was a show of accents, opinions (on running, grammar, heavy metal and angry middle-aged men) and material about Kieran’s family (N.Irish dad, a brother and sister). There were callbacks, trombones, haemophobia and instances of Kieran fainting in different places. Kieran admitted to a slight problem in hearing but told us that British politeness and a smile usually get him by.
Mark Cooper-Jones – Geographically Speaking
Looking every inch the geography teacher in tweed jacket with elbow patches and scuffed hi-top boots, one with the front sole trying to escape, Mark gave us a lovely, entertaining hour which included a geography quiz, tectonic plates, the Richter Scale, and lots and lots of maps, interspersed with old Mark’s old school certificates, and topping things off with a very, VERY long toilet roll to represent the Earth’s timeline. Mark’s show is oh so nearly ready for Edinburgh. Just a few teeny adjustments to make and, Geographically Speaking, the show is ready to move North.
An immediate return to the Phoenix took place just the next evening for another double-header of previews…
Wednesday 13th July – Phoenix, Exeter
Naz Osmanoglu – Exposure
The third member of Wit Tank gave us a darkish show about racism (his Dad’s) and wrong decisions (Naz). His Dad’s comments are usually preceeded by a knee coming up in the air, so the family get some warning – all physically acted out by Naz and if racism can ever be said to be funny, this is how to do it, by taking the p*ss out of it.
The wrong decisions caused upheavals and a bit of a meltdown in Naz’s personal life and being as we were still pre-Edinburgh, and others involved in this were going to be up there for the Fringe, there was a hint of suspense in the air as well.
An interesting story all around and pretty well polished up to the point we saw it.
Steve Bujega – The Decision
Steve’s show was about a tale of the heart versus the head. A shortlived romance in Edinburgh last year, and then a separation of many miles. Family advice and ties to elderly relatives all took part in this story of love, loss and then more love. A feelgood show for sure!
The very next night we were out again for the first in a series of three mixed nights, with two performers each time, some previews, some not, (each one a week apart) at the Funny Fort (venue, Fortescue Inn, Plymouth). We did several of these last year and although there was some mixed attendance, the event was fairly well organised.
Thursday 14th July, Funny Fort, Fortescue Inn, Plymouth.
Richard has come along in leaps and bounds with his material and his confidence. Banter with the audience, anecdotes and observational stand-up. Standard stuff but all done well and kept the punters happy for the duration.
Ian Lane – Aloof!
New to us, Ian has a laid back nasally drawl. A multitude of surreal whimsies. At times very entertaining.
Thursday 21st July Funny Fort, Fortescue Inn, Plymouth
Aidan Goatley – The Joy of Retail
What happens when, despite a complete lack of experience, you end up being the £40,000 a year manager of a branch of a well known garden centre chain which has a leaking roof and health and safety issues re electrical Christmas decorations? Add to this petshops, staff training, the fact that Aidan reckons he’s too nice a socialist for retail, and you have a recipe for an entertaining hour.
Aidan tells it all very well.
Stuart Goldsmith – Compared to What
Upbeat, clever, confident, whimsical storytelling to the nth degree. A seamless preview about his love for his partner and baby, kittens, callbacks, film references, city people versus country people at festivals, the Teletubbies and Quiet Carriages! What a performer. An excellent hour.
Saturday 23rd July – another double up of Edinburgh pre-views…
Birthday Girls – Shit Hot Party Legends, Bike Shed, Exeter.
The girls each have their own personality within the group’s sketches. There is Rose, the lead dancer full of wild energy, Beattie who takes everything very literally and is a “sicky” drunk, and Camille “the slutty one”. Their sketches, some old, some very new, were the usual mix of dance, filth, booze, shoes and some “in the know, wink the eye” ironic feminism (broccoli puss!)
Dan Cook – He’s Simple, He’s Dumb, He’s Daniel Cook
I’d say that Dan was like a cross between James Acaster (measured) and Joe Lycett (every so slightly camp) in his delivery – if I didn’t think that he might take offence!! Dan’s been in a lot of adverts (Crunchy Nut Cornflakes) and had a multi-media screen to show us excerpts from them but there was a lot more to this show than adverts. A very confident show, put across very clearly.
Wed 27th July – Another double upper at the Bike Shed.
Hayley McGee, I’m Doing This for You
A dark, theatrical comedy performance from Hayley. The conceit is that we are waiting for the proper comedian (her sometime/erstwhile boyfriend) to arrive, but that Hayley will “fill in” until he gets here. Dressed in a blonde bobbed wig, a sixties outfit and bright midheeled shoes, Hayley gives us history and snippets of their relationship, including a very outdrawn sex scene. As we creep towards the end of the hour, the audience are all wondering if there’s going to be a late visit from the so far invisible bf. I’m not telling.
Sleeping Trees, Sci Fi
Fast paced, seamless character changes, a million miles an hour scene changes, bodies as props. The boys are fab every single time we see them. Nothing more to be said!
Back to the Funny Fort in Plymouth for:
Thursday 28th July
Not a preview, but a collection of David’s tales told in his lovely lilting Welsh accent, of which I never tire. Old favourites (by request from us – the weekly bath!) mixed with some new material. Always a pleasure to watch.
Matt Price – Poltroon (Poltroon is a very old noun meaning “coward”)
Matt’s preview of his new show, about how, although a large man, he’s not up for a fight, and is much happier noshing on a pasty, was siderailed almost from the beginning by the crowd, who were clearly up for plenty of banter.
Matt is a champion of crowd conversation, a master of mischief to the masses and a pied piper of the punters, leading them on journey to the end of the hour – still managing to get bits of his show in here and there – apologising to Dave and I later that we hadn’t seen as much of the preview as he originally planned. What is there to forgive? We love watching Matt in action with his audiences and everyone had a bloody good time.
Then our end of the month, nothing else before Edinburgh, treat.
Two more previews in Bristol at the Tobacco Factory.
Friday 29 July, Ellie Taylor, Infidelliety, and Mitch Benn, Don’t Fear the Reaper
Well! What a grower Ellie Taylor has proved to be. Assured, confident, full of sass and as shiny as a brand new button! Her tale of being newly married to a (whisper it) immigrant, which, according to her, is all fine and good, except for one wee thing – this business of being stuck with one bed partner for the rest of your life!
Ellie told us of other partners who hadn’t been up to scratch, including a posh ‘un who looked down on her, but who got his come uppance in the end.
This was Ellie at a whole new level from the first time I’d seen her at The Counting House in Edinburgh, several Fringes ago. A great show – much appreciated by the almost full Tobacco Factory room.
An hour to make you think of your own mortality, Mitch is getting older, has lived over half his life (he reckons) and there’s nothing after this, whatever you may think. An hour of very entertaining music and observations, with some great sounds and some deep thoughts. I thoroughly enjoyed it – the best I’ve seen from Mitch.