Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground at the Derngate, Northampton, 13th April 2018

Screaming Blue MurderYet another packed house for the latest Screaming Blue Murder at the Royal and Derngate, with host Dan Evans on tip-top form again as he brought out the best of us rabble in the audience. Amongst the paying guests whose intimate back-stories he delved into were the assistant psychologist from St Crispin’s whose dementia tests he passed with flying colours; Dan Evanstwo rival soil experts in a relationship; and some noisy crisp eaters seated behind us. When one of the audience confessed to coming from Wellingborough, someone at the back shouted “it’s a sh*thole”, to which Dan observed that the mayor was in.

Diane SpencerWe’d seen all three of the acts before but that did not diminish from the fun of the night – because this was a truly top class night of comedy. First up was Diane Spencer, whom we last saw at the Leicester Comedy Festival in February, but who has also graced us with her presence at Screaming Blues in 2011 and 2015. Ms Spencer has a brilliantly funny stage presence – a delightful mixture of posh and obscene which can really take you by surprise when you’re not expecting it. Amongst her memorable moments on Friday night were re-enacting a rather squeaky, unlubricated pole dance and its unfortunate physical repercussions, what happens when you try to get “Russian slim” and the diplomacy required to rename stepchildren. She was hilarious as always, but what really impressed us was the fact that this was all completely different material from her Leicester appearance. She just oozes natural funniness. A fantastic start to the evening.

Andrew WattsNext up, and in a change from the advertised programme, we had Andrew Watts, a wonderfully dry gentleman who specialises in unladdish behaviour and cricketing analogies but is deceptively streetwise at the same time. We’d seen him here twice before, and he gave us his regular material and indeed memorable punchlines – a couple of which I use myself whenever out clothes shopping with Mrs Chrisparkle – you’ll know the ones if you’ve seen his act. He pitched his material absolutely spot on, and I loved the necrophilia sequence (no, honestly) and the fielding positions set up for the medical team delivering his wife’s baby. He also has this brilliant idea of being the perfect partner for a woman looking for a mediocre night of lovemaking; he’s there to step up to the mark. It may be time for Mr Watts to gather a few more ideas together to enhance his act but, there’s no question about it, he was absolutely hilarious and everyone loved it.

Jonny AwsumFor our final act, we welcomed the return of Jonny Awsum, who just seems to get more awesome every time we see him. Fresh from his appearance on Britain’s Got Talent last year, he attacks the stage with such winning gusto, getting everyone to join in his comedy songs right from the very beginning. He has some fantastic musical parodies; his Take That’s Back for Good is just brilliant, and his Sexy Noises cocks a knowing snoop at the Osmonds’ Crazy Horses. His enthusiasm is such that you cannot help but throw yourself into it. We were howling with laughter. A perfect way to end the night.

That was a fantastic Screaming Blue Murder – and there’s another one coming in two weeks’ time! Dan won’t be hosting this one, so I wonder who we’ll get to accompany us for the night. A show with an already built-in added surprise; you should come!

Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground at the Derngate, Northampton, 11th September 2015

Screaming Blue MurderAs 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.

Dan EvansIt 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.

Zoe LyonsOur 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!

Andrew WattsNext 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!

Carey MarxOur 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!

Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground, Derngate, Northampton, 19th October 2012

Dan EvansA full house at the Underground for this week’s Screaming Blue Murder – that’s what we like to see! There’s nothing like lots of people laughing to make the humour even more infectious. Dan Evans was once again our compere and he did his usual excellent job of comic meet and greet, including dealing with a rather frosty lady in the front row who would clearly not be trifled with. He’s still having a crise de conscience with the new material, which created a lively encounter with a guy at the back who pleaded with him not to do his old stuff again. I got a name check in that little contretemps – to think that I might have spurred Dan on to write some new stuff!

Andrew WattsDan promised three great acts and two marvellous intervals and he did not disappoint. Our first act was Andrew Watts, new to us, who has a rather entertaining persona of an older, slightly posher, very unladdish gentleman, and who bestows his advice to us all about dealing with women. Very funny material, with nice use of cricketing imagery for batting away difficult questions, and I loved his stuff about being asked to give his girlfriend a mediocre night in bed; definitely worth catching his act.

Carly SmallmanNext up was Carly Smallman, again an act we hadn’t seen before – a girl with a guitar, which is almost always a winning formula for Mrs Chrisparkle and me. She had some good near the knuckle songs, starting with her brotherly incest song that Mrs C and I thought was brilliant but Lady Duncansby, also in attendance, thought was the height of bad taste. It was an entertaining act about being both a slut and unsuccessful with boys, and she had some very good audience interaction with Carl at the back, to whom she directed her amorous attentions. Again, a very funny act.

Nick WiltyHeadline act was Nick Wilty, who we had seen about 18 months ago, whose material involves lots of fast-paced one-liners, many of which were very clever indeed. He bases a lot of the act on his observations during a considerable amount of world travel and is very funny in a sarf Lahndahn sort of way; in many respects he’s the antithesis to Andrew Watts. The whole programme was a very successful combination of comics; they were all sufficiently different to make each one stand out in their own way. Book early for the next show!