Two weeks quickly fly by and we’re back at the Underground with three more super acts, two wonderful intervals and our host with the most, Dan Evans, still – I’m delighted to say – coming forward with new stories and fresh material, for which I am truly thankful, amen. Dan’s easy way of gently insulting the audience and ridiculing himself even more is perfect for getting us all relaxed and warmed up – unless you’re picked on of course.
Two of this week’s comedians were new to us. First up was Angela Barnes, who had good solid material and an attacking delivery. If I’m honest I found her tone a little strident but she still made me laugh a lot. Nicely self-deprecating and I liked the observations about dating a doctor!
Second on, and again new to us, was Andy White, who for me was a phenomenal find. Intelligent and linguistically deft, he had some wonderful observations and did some excellent routines. He pulls funny faces and does funny voices but as they are all genuinely very funny, that’s all good. I loved his French version of the Flintstones and his brief appearance of Nelson Mandela. His act went down hugely in the hall, and he’s one of the simply funniest comics I’ve seen for a long time.
The headline act was Andrew O’Neill, whom we have seen before but who remembered as being funnier the first time. I don’t think he had changed his act much and his slightly surreal madcap angle just didn’t work after the suave Mr White. I remember his “I’m not racist, but…” lines working much better before. He has a sequence where he does a long list of similes – I can’t quite remember why – and each one gets more ludicrous than the last. I’m afraid that was very dull. Shame, because I know he can be funny – but it didn’t happen for us this time round. He got only moderate applause at the end.
Dan was still selling his books for a fiver outside afterwards, and I enjoyed the opportunity for a brief chat. I fear as a result I might get picked on next time…
I’m sensing there’s going to be a downside to having changed the Screaming Blue Murder nights to a Friday. Yes, it’s nearly always a sell-out now, which is good – and they make loads of sales at the bar, which is also good – but the combination of the two is that we’re starting to hear more heckling nowadays. A heckle is fine if a) it’s deserved and b) it’s funnier than the comedian. Unfortunately the young drinkers of Northampton haven’t quite yet mastered that art.
However, I’m talking non-chronologically. Dan was host again, still effortless at connecting with the audience and getting things off to a relaxed and funny start, but if he does that Travelodge routine again I think I might scream.
The first act was Paul Kerensa. He was very good, had nice lines about Cornish incest, was quite mainstream in his subject matter but occasionally trod very near the knuckle, and most impressively, as though he was live on Channel 4 with Davina, he did not swear. I think that he’s actually the first comedian we have seen at Northampton who did not use one swear word. And interestingly, he didn’t come across as staid or untrendy as a result. Good on him!
Second was Susan Murray. She unfortunately got the worst of the heckling but she handled it excellently. She did a lot of material about accents which is always entertaining, but did other stuff too, including Mrs Chrisparkle’s favourite comedy line of the year so far – “My parents never smacked me as a child. Well, maybe the occasional few grams to get me to sleep…”
Last up was Andrew O’Neill, who makes an interesting presence as he was semi “en travestie” and slightly made up but still with a very blokey face. Very inventive and funny material, also in receipt of some heckling but only minor stuff; full of attack and extremely confident, which was just what the club needed for its final act. Enjoyed them all very much.
Don’t think the Derngate’s “Curry and a comic” thing is working well. You pay £6.50 (I think – don’t quote me) for a curry before the show. I wonder if it wouldn’t be a better idea simply to allow people to pre-order a curry type snack at the bar just like you do with the drinks and then have it at the first interval, even if it means having to extend the interval by five minutes or so. Just a thought.