As we wave a sad farewell to summer (such as it was), and the days start to get a little shorter, and the leaves that are green turn to brown, the great news is that we can welcome back the return of the Screaming Blue Murder comedy nights at the Royal and Derngate. This season has five jam-packed nights of stand up between September and November, four of which we are able to attend.
It was also a welcome return to our genial host Dan Evans; same suit, new gags, which is just how we like it. The first two rows on the left were taken by a big party from the school, regular attendees out of whom Dan has already taken most of the available mick, but fortunately, when he starts asking them questions, we find there’s always room for more. The rest of the front row was promisingly made up of a guy and his harem, so it was quite a surprise to discover they worked in protecting at risk kids; not a lot of humour to be derived from that then.
Our first act was new to us, the excellent Zoe Lyons. Great material, a funny, approachable persona, and a perfectly paced act – confident enough to wallow a while in the build up to a story, sharing the enjoyment of the moment with us. I loved all her observations on the daftness of life – stress-relieving shampoo, daily cleansing routines; and the utter stupidity of the notion of the “one lady owner” when it comes to buying cars. We were in hysterics. Would love to see her do a longer slot!
Next up was Andrew Watts, whom we have seen before – and whose well-received Edinburgh show I deliberately didn’t see because we knew he’d be coming here. He is a really funny chap, with his gentlemanly cricketing analogies and his way of handling those crises every man faces when clothes shopping with his woman. His material was probably 90% the same as we saw three years ago, but it’s funny enough to enjoy a re-listen. His strength is in that marvellous juxtaposition between respectable exterior and a rather sinful brain. Anyone who can get an audience member to consider necrophilia has got to be a good bet!
Our headline act was Carey Marx, again new to us, although he’s been doing this kind of stuff for a while now – and it shows, in a good way! Supremely confident, wonderfully relaxed, seemingly effortlessly pulling material out of thin air, although I’m sure it’s all well planned and performed with military precision. Reflections on manbags, the etiquette of hugging, how to refer to people of restricted growth without causing offence, and gays creating tornados all played a part. A total crowd-pleaser, with a constant high level of laughter from the start that hardly ever died down.
An amazing return for Screaming Blue, one of those delightful occasions when all four performers were on the top of their game. Can’t wait for two weeks’ time. You should come too!