Time for another Screaming Blue Murder – you know the traditional event: hosted by the wonderful Dan Evans, with three delightful acts and two marvellous intervals, an up-for-it boisterous full house of an audience, loads of laughs and, all being well, everyone out by 10:30 to get on with the rest of their weekend. In fact, it’s such a predictable entertainment that you could almost set your clock by it. Everything runs to plan, no one stays sober, everyone goes home happy.
But is the course of true comedy always that predictable? Not so on Saturday night. It all started well. Dan bounded on with his usual energy (having bigged himself up on the microphone before it started) and spent the usual twenty minutes or so getting to know the audience. We encountered young Daniel, 18 – the most amiable skinhead you could ever meet – and his girlfriend Izzy, 17 (their ages are relevant, trust me); five cats-owning Health and Safety manager Jenna with her ghastly tale of someone who fell in a shredder; the aggregate lorry driver and the long-partnered couples who sat apart. All jolly stuff going nicely to plan.
Two of the three acts were new to us; the other we saw quite recently. First up was Rachel Fairburn, new to us, with a likeable personality and a sister she hates; she’s not sure how, but apparently her Manchester accent is sexy (and, on the whole, I wouldn’t disagree). She has some telling and well thought-out material about OCD, and how it isn’t just a matter of liking things neat and tidy. Her set was going well and we were all laughing a lot when she introduced her next subject – serial killers.
She was just about to mine some comedy material out of the appalling Jeffrey Dahmer, when a young man in the audience became unwell – seriously so. Everything stopped; people were concerned. Rachel actually went to get him a glass of water, but it soon became clear this wasn’t going to resolve itself quickly. Mr Sound Man announced an early interval, and we all went outside in stunned silence for a drink whilst the paramedics attended to the poor chap. Ms Fairburn never got to finish her story or her set, and wasn’t seen again. We were immensely impressed with the way the staff handled the incident, and the speed with which the young chap was taken to hospital. Hopefully, all’s well that ends well. The unpredictability of a comedy night.
But the show must go on, and our second act was the excellent Toussaint Douglass whom we had seen last year at a Comedy Crate gig. He has a very warm personality, and some terrific material about having a middle class girlfriend, and the pros and cons of being in a mixed-race relationship. He has a great stage presence and delivers his excellent material with confidence and authority. He was able to turn the gig around back to being a good night out and not an oh dear I hope that guy is ok night.
Our headline act, and someone else we hadn’t seen before, was Tom Ward, a guy with a thatch of impossible hair that he insists isn’t a wig, an innocent-looking selection of backing music tracks to his side and an incredibly mischievous personality to boot. Put the three together and you have a wonderfully anarchic half-hour. He poked fun mercilessly at Daniel for being a nonce (Daniel took it like a man), then later questioned the guy at the back why his girlfriend wasn’t with him. Dissatisfied with the answer, Mr W got his phone off him and rang her up for us all to listen to her reasoning. Result, it’s not looking good for the relationship. He ended with a brilliant version of Cher’s Believe that has to be seen and heard to be… well… believed.
What could have ended in an uncomfortable night for everyone ended in hilarity, thank Goodness. I felt sorry for Rachel Fairburn ending her set by not ending it, if you see what I mean. But at least we think the audience member was ok. Let’s hope so. Next Screaming Blue is on 12th March and is already sold out. See you there!