It’s been almost five months since I’ve started a piece of writing with the word “Review”… times have changed! But to survive changing times you have to bend like a palm tree in the wind rather than be a solid old oak that falls over in a big gust. And that’s what those nice people at The Comedy Crate have done, teaming up with The Atic, bringing their special brand of stand-up comedians into an online zoom gig, and the first of those was yesterday evening.
Watching a comedy gig through Zoom is a very different experience from its real life equivalent, but you quickly pick up the etiquette. Cam on means you’re sitting in the front row and are happy for the comedians or MC to chat to you – cam off means you’re happy to enjoy it privately. Mic on means you want your laughter heard, mic off means you don’t. I quickly picked up that it’s best to treat it as though it were a proper live gig – laugh unrestrainedly, but don’t chat. We opted for cam off, mic on, but that may change in time. The more faces you see, the more laughs you hear, the more it feels like a real gig, which has got to be the ideal end result. However, watching from home does inevitably mean you might be interrupted by children screaming, dogs barking, family members chatting – so if that might apply to you, best keep that mic off.
It was a great selection of comedians last night, some of which were new to us, some of which feel like old pals. Our host was Ryan Mold, who runs The Atic Banbury/Bicester (of which I confess, I had never heard) and was a bright and lively influence on the evening, keeping everything going at a good pace, even occasionally daring to engage some of the punters in conversation, with varying degrees of success, depending on the punter. We were told that our comedians would be trying out some new material that evening, because over a period of several lockdowns, there’s been precious little for any of them to do other than write some new stuff. So we gave it our best shot, and so, for the most part, did they!
Our first act was Nathan Caton, whom we’ve seen many times now and I always enjoy his style and material. The thing I really like about Mr C is that, no matter what subject he takes to discuss, he never forgets, first and foremost, to make it funny. Lockdown issues, being stuck inside with his girlfriend, listening to his friends’ conspiracy theories, they’re all there, they’re all recognisable and they’re all very entertaining.
Next up was Steve N Allen, new to us, but he cuts a smart and authoritative figure on the thumbnail, so I bet he’s very imposing in real life. Classy confident delivery, warmly engaging, and with some nice material including recollections of hen night gigs, and you bask in the fact that it’s always a joy to listen to intelligent comedy.
Then we had Ed Aczel, also new to us, but thankfully I’d done my homework before the gig so I kind of knew what to expect. Mr A is a kind of anti-comic, who will spend his allotted time talking aimlessly about house insurance or complaining to Amazon, without any ostensible joke written into this script. The humour comes from the ridiculousness of what he’s doing, an innocent in a knowing world, and his completely unshowbiz appearance. At least, I think that’s where the humour comes from, because, personally, his style didn’t appeal to me. There were, however, plenty of audience members cackling away happily, so, I accept that’s my bad.
Next was Robyn Perkins; I knew I’d seen her before, but I was surprised that it was as long ago as the Austerity Measures show at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2014, where she gave some great political stand-up. This time round she was concentrating on the thrills of mating and dating (probably in the other order) and her delight in science. Very funny, and now I know a bit more about the amygdala I can go out into the world with greater confidence.
Our last act was the terrific Mark Simmons, whom we saw opening at a Screaming Blue Murder in 2019 when he totally stole the show with his anarchic wordplay. This time he was armed with 23 new jokes to see if they worked – and the majority of them did. The great thing about his material is that it comes at you so fresh and fast, and a lot of it is thoroughly silly, that it’s impossible to remember his jokes even a few minutes later; it’s a cloudburst of (well planned) spontaneity, and then it’s all over. But he was great, as I knew he would be.
The show is free, but you are welcome to PayPal them a donation, that gets split between all the acts, which is probably the right thing to do. We really enjoyed it; and there are three more such shows scheduled for the next three Sunday evenings at 6pm. No risk comedy! You can’t beat it. Book your place for free here!