November Nonsense

After a very busy October, we had a quiet start to November with just four gigs before the 25th for both of us, then Dave going a little mad on a bonus couple of days in London.

Our first gig was Friday 5th Nov (yes, that’s right, Bonfire Night) and in the lovely Watermark venue in Ivybridge. Seann Walsh, once again ably supported by Mark Simmons.

The venue was about 3/4 full, not bad at all for Guy Fawkes night. We were glad to get away from the fireworks (our local council was throwing a firework display in the field near our home, and the locals had been letting off the bloody things all around for a week or more previously). Not good when you keep rescue chooks in a coop in the garden!

Mark was his usual one liner self; a fact which he introduces right at the start. I loved it that he got a few puns in, was interrupted by a later comer, and said  he’d have to start again. The audience laughed, Mark took a deep breath and went through his first few jokes again but getting the audience to complete the punchlines – and we gave it a bloody good go – he was impressed!  I am not and never have been a big pun fan but Mark is quality and I love it when he gives a trademark little chuckle as the audience either groan or roar depending on the line. Later we also we get “Well done Ivybridge, they didn’t get that in ‘insert name of last town here'”. We know how it works Mark. 😉

Mark’s been busy (alongside the brilliant Danny Ward) making Wheelbarrow Town, a gem of a Youtube series set on a farm (Mark’s parents’ place!) We’ve watched the first series plus outtakes and  the Hallowe-en special so far. Seann has had a small part as have several other comedians. All funny and classic cult material – mark my words! Watch it now!

After the break we get Seann with his show One for the Road.

Seann’s getting older and he doesn’t like it. He used to be able to go out drinking all night, now he wants to stay home. His girlfriend annoys him with her “noise machine” aka hairdryer and other household implements. This is further development of his last show’s theme. I’m fully expecting a baby to be coming along anytime soon to give Seann even more to complain about. If he thinks a hairdryer is a horrible noise early in the morning…

The very next night finds us up in Exeter at a frequent haunt, The Bike Shed for Beth Vyse‘s show “Funny As Cancer”. Dave has played a part in this show twice now, during a first viewing during its gestation at Machfest (May )2015, then again in Edinburgh this year, by which time of course, it was fully birthed. We deliberately sat several rows from the front despite Beth greeting everyone at the door in full Dolly Parton wig and false boobs,  handing out ping pong balls, asking us both to sit down front. But Dave wanted to see the whole show from his seat this time, and not some of it from the inside of a Michael Jackson mask!

The show itself is a masterpiece of course, telling the true tale of Beth’s discovery, at the very young age of 28, of a lump in her breast, the subsequent story of her diagnosis, and how she, with support from boyfriend, family and friends, dealt with her disease. It’s funny, touching and at times quite raw, but Beth tells us her story gracefully and leaves us, quite literally, on a high.

Friday the 11th of November and we’re back once more at the Watermark in Ivybridge for Marcus Brigstocke and Why the Long Face? Having seen Marcus before in Edinburgh doing a short stint reading sections from the papers in The Sunday Assembly in August 2013 in a Bingo Hall, and also in Spamalot, we weren’t sure exactly what to expect in what proved to be a two hour long show. As it turned out he was definitely value for money!


The space was sold out; although there seemed to be a bit of arbitary musical chairs going on along our front row, which was a “temporary” front row created by throwing down some extra seating in front of the fixed rows. Nobody in the venue seemed to know which seat was numbered what, so we all shuffled around with a few other punters and a lady in a wheelchair until the venue and ourselves were happy.

Eventually, just a few minutes late, Marcus came on after a short Voice of God and lifted the needle on the retro turntable which had been belting out muzak, asked the rhetorical question, “Why the Long Face?” and more or less launched straight into a fabulous rant against the Brexiteers and Trump voters for starters. Similar heartfelt insults towards the Tories, the lefties, including Jeremy Corbyn, followed by a particular dig at Nick Clegg gave away (IMO) his slightly left of centre politics.

Following on from this we had personal heartbreak – being messed about for nine months by someone who can’t let go, back to Trump and Marcus having to explain to his young daughter how a misogynistic, racist bigot ended up in the White House, then how annoying are Vapers and people who boast about their Nutribullets amongst other things. That was just the first half! We were all feeling like we had grown central partings in our hair with the blast of vitriol that was coming off the stage. As we entered the break I waited with bated breath to see how many of the audience members would come back for more – almost all of them as it turned out!

The second half was slightly less ranty but still enough to make anybody of a sensitive disposition wince several times – there was even some whimsy and a call back involving Brigstocke wearing … well, I’m not giving anything away.

Marcus does a nice line in accents and is a very funny man; we had a very good time with Mr Brigstocke.

Our next gig was on 18th Nov in Exeter (Corn Exchange) and was the lovely Sara Pascoe (with her show Animal) supported by Jen Brister. Both of these ladies are vegan and were there prior to the (Exeter Friends for Animals) EFFA fair going on in the same venue the next day, Sara having a guest appearance there at noon.

Jen was clever, funny and upfront; giving the audience a very good time indeed by the sound of the applause at the end. Tales of her mum (with Spanish accent) and other observations kept us all entertained for a good 30 minutes prior to the break.

On to Sara then. We’d seen Animal before in an earlier incarnation and although a lot of it was the same, there were a few wee tweaks. Sara reckons she is a “bad vegan” because she likes the results of taxidermy. Her piece about her boyfriend making sure she had life insurance had also changed. I like to see a show change (and grow) as the artist hones and polishes their work.

Sara’s appearance at the EFFA fair the next day was much more about her journey towards veganism and her ethics around her vegan lifestyle. I thought she delivered a lot of ethical points very well and I hope that, although the audience seemed to be mostly veggie/vegan anyway, that she sowed a few vegan seeds in fallow omnivore earth.

On to Friday 25th November and a gig I’d been looking forward to for months. Jonathan Pie Live. We were heading up the A38/M5 once more to Taunton Brewhouse. Initially we’d only been going up for the night, but on spotting that one of our fave bands were playing in Bristol the following evening (along with four support bands), we’d booked an AirBnB room in Taunton for after Pie, then going on up to Bristol on the Saturday after a tour of the Taunton’s best charity shops.


Jonathan (left wing reporter character act) was as ranty as only he can be, (catch his YouTube videos). The conceit was that he was being asked to present Children in Need (much to his disgust) and so he was playing to “air” when the “studio” would ask him for an update on the fundraising. Meantime when he wasn’t “on air” he would be ranting to us about his politics, Brexit, Trump etc as is his wont. Lots of swearies – my favourite being flashed up on the screen behind him – giving us his opinion on what he’d like to do to the Tories, (clue – a short word for fornication).

A break and into the second half, where, technical crackly sound issues which had been apparent in the first half, became far too annoying for Jonathan and he slung his earpiece/mic to the ground, and pinned on a small chest mic. Further irritations for everyone, as Jonathan tried to build to the climax of his show, were provided by idiots getting up to go to the loo. How many times have we seen this at gigs? Go to the loo in the break, that’s what the break is for!! Jonathan was not happy.

Despite the people who don’t know how to behave at comedy gigs, we had a great time.


Dave’s Mini London Excursion

28/11 The Bill Murray ACMS
29/11 Soho Theatre Kieran Hodgson – Maestro
29/11 Soho Theatre Lolly Adefope – Lolly 2

I was fortunate enough to be attending a work event in London on the 29th so was allowed to go up the afternoon before and stop over. This allowed me to fit in ACMS on the Monday and then two shows on the Tuesday before a sleeper train back home.

I love the ACMS – this was at their new venue ‘The Bill Murray‘ in Islington which by the looks of it will be a great new venue.

I got there in time to chat to several old friends like Chris Coltrane and Michael Legge and it was a lovely night. My highlights – Will Gompertz from the BBC getting a lot of stick before leaving at the first interval, and then getting much more in his absence. Bec Hill with one of her montages – The Christmas Fox – aww it was lovely. Alexis Dubus and his Shakespeare version of autocorrect. Funniest moment – Joz Norris and his definition of a joke. There was so much going on and so many acts – it went on late but I wished it had carried on all night. Especially as the hotel I was in gave me a room right on the corner of a main street, with no noise protection – even with earplugs the noise was horrendous.

On the Tuesday after work I wandered down to Soho Theatre for the two shows. First up Kieran Hodgson – Maestro. Simply wonderful story linking Mahler and Kieran’s love life. Can see why it got a nomination at Edinburgh. Loved it, though did love ‘Lance’ slightly more. Wonderful characterisation from a wonderful young comic actor.

Then I stayed for Lolly Adefope – Lolly 2. Carole and I have seen Lolly do spots twice before and never really been won over in that environment. However, this was an amazing show, wonderful from start to finish. Great characters, links, serious points to be made, call backs and audience interaction. Faultless and one of my absolutely favourite shows of the 220 or so this year. Just wish Carole had been with me to see it.


On the last night of the month, we were in The Phoenix, Exeter for the wonderful James Acaster.  Against a mustard poo coloured backdrop, James, delivered an hour and a half (with a break) of classic whimsy and make-believe. “You guys are the ones I was hoping for, “ he addressed us, his generic audience (he knows, that we know).

From there we went on to the honey scam, (when he had to instruct several people in the audience, who weren’t “getting it”  that they’d better get with the programme, because this was going to go on and on and on) …

We had two male latecomers who were quizzed on why they were so late; they had to confess they’d stayed home to have a couple of drinks and were soundly berated for their tardiness.  He then had some words for the bald but bearded guy who was not laughing at all “you will break me”.

Leading towards the break, there was even more audience interaction; in particular a bloke who confessed that he’d been to the dress up photo booth in Exeter Christmas Market. Questioned about the booth, he said you had to try on four different costumes in a quick change act. Cue much more questioning on the how and the why and the wherefore.

Into the break and yet more chat. Another guy near us finally gave us the name of his hamlet after James just about had to pull teeth to get info out of him. There was a woman punter cackling about ten seconds after every joke and a couple of other hecklers got short shrift.   We went on to Brexit (via brilliant t-bag and Leaning Tower of Pisa analogies)!!

James was giving us good value for money, all the chat and distraction was definitely making us run over time. This may have been problematical for some with smaller bladders, but for us, once more the end of a gig was slightly spoiled, this time by a youngish couple sitting on the end of the row behind us who just had to go to the loo (and get a drink at the same time!) From their attitude it would also seem they’d probably had quite a few drinks already! Acaster was also less than impressed.

All in all, quality acts throughout the month, slightly spoiled by punters who do not know how to behave at gigs. I put a lot of this down to venues who should have a no readmit policy for customers. This might make them think twice about using the breaks appropriately and not drinking like fish!



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