Review – The Comedy Crate at the Black Prince, Northampton, 16th September 2021

Comedy CrateA coincidence that the Last Night at the Black Prince for 2021 came the same week as The Last Night of the Proms? I think not. A double whammy for us all to contend with at this time of the year. And, to make it just that little bit more challenging, the pub organised a band gig in their back room to vie for our aural attention out in the garden – but we could easily ignore them as we enjoyed the company of a great line-up of comic talents.

Jamie AllertonOur host, new to us, was the enthusiastic powerhouse that is Liverpool’s Jamie Allerton; with his vocal projections the band had no chance of making an impact. He gave us a great mixture of MC welcome and interaction together with plenty of his own excellent material thrown in for good measure. He nicely played on his physical presence to ensure that none of us felt guilty about putting on a few pounds during lockdown. A lively, chatty host who made the show go with a great swing.

Brennan ReeceWe’d seen all the acts before, although first up, Brennan Reece, we’d only seen online at a Comedy Crate/Atic gig back in March. He’s a very likeable chap, who uses his camp-but-straight personality to great comic effect. He strikes up a great rapport with the audience and has some brilliant put-downs when some audience members get a little above themselves (yes Hetero John, we’re all looking at you). He reacts quickly and smartly to what goes on around him and never fears to leave behind his prepared material for a great comic opportunity, which is the mark of a great comedian.

Angela BarnesNext up was Angela Barnes, whom we saw at a Screaming Blue Murder nine years ago, since when her career has gone on a fully deserved upward trajectory. Exuding confidence and presence, she has a great attacking delivery, and her set was full of inventive new material. She’s recently married, which provides for some fun new observations; and she had a wonderful throwaway line about Prince Andrew, after which she had us all in the palm of her hand. Brilliantly funny.

Stephen BaileyOur headline act was Stephen Bailey, whom we first saw five years ago as the support act for Katherine Ryan, and his comic presence is as immaculate and perfectly presented as his good self. In the bizarre setting of the Black Prince garden, he found himself competing for lighting with the next door municipal car park, but he quickly found his stride with his trademark cheeky gayness, taking the whole event as one big hen party. Stephen is now partnered up with lawyer Rich, whose main attraction appears to be that he has a house. His set was full of brilliant comic observations, including a very nice routine about “straight pride”. A great way to end the evening.

That was indeed the last of the Comedy Crate nights at the Black Prince for this year, but their programme continues with loads of excellent acts at the Charles Bradlaugh, the Picturedrome and other local venues – all the information is here!

Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground, Derngate, Northampton, 21st September 2012

Dan EvansTwo 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.

Angela BarnesTwo 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!

Andy WhiteSecond 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.

Andrew O’NeillThe 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…