A New Year means a new year’s regular supply of Screaming Blue Murders at the Derngate, where, for a (relative) pittance, you can have a Friday night fix of three great comic acts, two super intervals and one humdinger of a host. On our recommendation, not only did we also have with us Lady Duncansby and her butler William, but also the Duchess of Dallington together with her Estates Manager ghillie “Mr Brown”. A disappointing show could have led to our being blacklisted by Debretts, so there was a lot at stake.
Dan Evans is back hosting, still wearing his lucky pinstripe suit which now has got so old that it has a permanently open fly; cue for some entertaining material about its contents. Dan is still magic at warming up the audience, eliciting dubious job backgrounds from the punters in the front rows, breaking down the barriers and getting us all in the mood. And with some excellent new material too!
First up was someone new to us, Larry Dean. A naturally funny guy, Scottish but with a hilarious “Chelsea” English accent when he chose to use it, he was cheeky and engaging and had some great material. He bases some of his act on the fact that he is gay, some of which worked brilliantly – like the possibly less obvious uses for installing Grindr on your phone – but some of which were a bit Neanderthal, like doing physical impersonations of “typical gays”, whatever that might be, and also committing the cardinal sin of using the word “gay” to mean “bad”, “like straight people do”. Errr, not all straight people, Larry. But he was bright and likeable, and on the whole we really enjoyed his set. His linking his sexuality with his parents’ enjoyment of betting was fantastic.
Second was Susan Murray, whom we have seen twice before and is always good for a laugh regarding dealing with your mother on the phone and funny accents. However, this time round she seemed slightly underprepared – there wasn’t an awful lot of material, it was just general friendly (and amusing, don’t get me wrong) chatting. It felt a little like she was just coasting through this one.
The headline act was Anthony King who we saw back in 2010, who was ok on that occasion but this time round his act worked really well. He’s a lugubrious character who performs comedy songs with his guitar that have an edge of psychosis to them. He has the kind of persona that makes you suspect he just might gently slaughter you while you’re laughing, given half the chance. Very funny throughout, and despite his quiet laid back delivery you never doubted for a moment that he was in total control.
It’s a great night out, and we could do with a few more people attending. Come on Northampton, where else are you going to get entertainment like this for 12 quid?