Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground at the Derngate, Northampton, 12th February 2016

Screaming Blue MurderI knew something had been missing from my life – this was our first Screaming Blue Night since 9th October! That’s four months Cold Turkey! So it was great to see an extremely full house last Friday night, so much so that they had to cram some extra seats curving round the front of the stage. In fact, I was at the box office earlier in the week when a chap came up to speak to the assistant next to me to book for the show, and was told, sorry, it’s sold out. The poor chap walked away very crestfallen.

Dan EvansGreat to see Dan Evans back in his rightful place as Master of Ceremonies. Ceremoniously he quizzed those poor folk in reaching distance about their jobs, relationships, homes and so on, much to their discomfort and our amusement. It’s the way these things work. It was only when it was time to start the applause to welcome on the first act that I realised something was wrong. Angling his microphone stand at semi-erect he encouraged us to roar at two-thirds of the volume of which we were capable (of). I knew the drill – starting with a faded cheer which progressively gets louder and louder. Except – silence. A split-second of horror on Dan’s face. I let out a very muted “hooray”. All on my own. Oh God, the embarrassment. Of course Dan shamed us all into a proper reception for our first act, but it didn’t feel right. And that slightly muted response set the tone for most of the rest of the evening, even with a full house. Weird or what?

Ross McGrane In an unusual turn of events, all three comics were new to us. Our first act was Ross McGrane, a jolly young fellow who you sensed was trying very hard but for whatever reason the material wasn’t coming out naturally. He never really got a good rhythm going, and a few times there was a pause that lasted just slightly longer than was comfortable. I think a drunker, meaner audience might have started heckling – but we were extremely well behaved. Too much swearing for my liking – I’m no prude, but I think the F word needs to be your backup in a humorous situation rather than replacing the humour itself. And his final gag – which took quite a long while in the setting-up – was really awfully unfunny. With some better material he could well go places. However, I really did love his line about why he was glad to have a daughter and not a son. You’ll have to guess what it is.

Eleanor TiernanSecond up was Eleanor Tiernan, who has the advantage of a rather charming Irish accent, and plenty of attack in her delivery. Again, some of her material just wasn’t quite funny enough – or maybe relevant enough. There were a few observations about Irish history and the relationship between Ireland and England that would probably have been much funnier had we been in Dublin. However, halfway through her act she turned a corner and gave us some terrific stuff. My notes read: “great vagina material” – I’ll leave you to surmise the rest. And she has a most innovative suggestion for the cause for yeast infections – really very funny indeed.

Andre VincentOur headline act was Andre Vincent, and considerably more mature and experienced (in a good way) than either of the first two comics. He finally managed to prise good quality laughter out of our rather dour audience with nice free-flowing stories that amused and entertained and then moved on before they got too detailed. Decently self-deprecating, with a confident delivery and we all went home in a much better mood than when we arrived.

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