Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground at the Derngate, Northampton, 31st January 2014

Screaming Blue MurderLast Friday’s Screaming Blue Murder could have started better for me. As we were waiting for the show to start, a young man blundered in, tripped over a chair leg and ended up spilling his cider all over my trousers. These things happen of course, but I would have preferred an apology rather than just an embarrassed titter. So I had to look to Mrs Chrisparkle to provide tissues to mop up my wet legs that remained cold and clammy for the rest of the evening. Never mind, his mother apologised to me in the interval and she was a stunner.

Angie McEvoyNo Dan Evans this week, instead we had Angie McEvoy hosting. Angie’s been here a few times, both as host and as an act, and I must admit I do like her style. She’s very laid back, very relaxed; perhaps sometimes a little over-quiet, and there were times when she could have torn strips off those noisy so-and-so’s at the back who were having their own party and really irritating the rest of us. She did eventually do her wonderful heckle put-down act, which we’ve seen before and works a treat. She also did her routine involving Calpol, which always hits the funnybone.

Luke BensonOur first act was Luke Benson, 6ft 7in of Geordie comic. He had a good matey vibe about him, which contrasted quite nicely with some surreal wordplay – for example, he said he’d had his appendix removed, which now made him quite hard to reference. I guffawed. Others guffawed about two seconds later, which I guess meant I was more in tune with him than everyone else. I also liked his line about “describe yourself in three words”; answer – “concise”. Took me a while to get it. Took Lady Duncansby until the interval. He went down well in the audience.

Jessica FostekewSecond was Jessica Fostekew, who reminded me a little of Helen Lederer, with her rather exquisite voice and general cuteness. She started off with a load of fast and furious one-liners, in a kind of Brechtian style, by telling us in advance that was what she would do, and by hurtling to the punch line almost before we’d had the chance to assimilate the lead-up. She had some good entertaining material, and I did enjoy her doing the travel news.

Geoff BoyzThe final act was Geoff Boyz, a likeable Scottish guy with a strong confident style, some punchy material and the best Robert de Niro impersonation you are ever likely to see. He did a really good routine about staying as a guest in someone else’s house which brought out all the comic anxieties all of us face under those circumstances. One of those rare occasions where the headline act definitely worked the best.

Great news that it was a full house, as the numbers haven’t been great recently. Still the best comedy value you can get.

Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground at the Derngate, Northampton, 22nd February 2013

Angie McEvoyYet another full house at the Derngate for the Screaming Blue Murder club! Great news that it is tapping so successfully into the area’s communal funnybone. This time our host was Angie McEvoy. We’ve seen her a few times and she always a good laugh. I rather like her MC’ing style. She’s quite relaxed, and wants us to have a good time in an ostensibly caring sort of way. But she’s also deadly skilful at keeping order, and she played off the weird whims of the first few rows to great comic effect.

Keith FarnanThe first act was Keith Farnan, a long haired whirlwind of comic attack with plenty of genuine Irish blarney. He had lots of great material and he seemed to cover loads of subjects, so his act was always lively and fast moving. Nice tantric references! He was very popular with the crowd and we both rated him very highly.

Otiz CannelloniNext was Otiz Cannelloni, the only act whom we’ve seen before. I remember that we absolutely loved him when we saw him last time, and indeed he achieved a very respectable 2nd place in the 2010 Chrisparkle Awards for SBM Comic of the Year. I think he more or less repeated the identical act but it’s still extremely funny – a great mixture of word play and rapid fire wisecracking, and with a few clever bits of magic chucked in. He also has very nicely understated comic facial expressions, and his material is largely very clean; I’m no prude, but I do admire a comic who can bring the house down with the minimum of swearing.

Ian CognitoFinally the headline act was Ian Cognito, a rather splendid stage name (I assume!) He also has great attack and an assured level of self-confidence. He’s a kind of aggravated-bloke-down-the-pub character, and whilst his material was very funny his act lacked a little subtlety for my liking. His delivery is what Mrs Chrisparkle likes to describe as “relentless”, and, I have to admit, I did nod off towards the end. Probably a combination of jetlag and Sauvignon Blanc, I readily admit. He went down very well with the audience though.

More in two weeks’ time!

Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Derngate, Northampton, 2nd September 2011

A welcome return to the Screaming Blue Murder season at Northampton after its summer break. The numbers attending earlier on in the year had definitely dwindled, but it’s come back with a bang this month and with a healthy supply of punters to keep the show atmospheric and loud.

Angie McEvoyOur compère (indeed commère) was Angie McEvoy, who we saw here before, and she still makes for a feel-good hostess, gentle and appearing to be quite kind before going in for the odd savage observation. I like her style and she has some very good material, but when introducing the acts you feel she is distinctly not trying to outdo them, which I think is rather polite.

Alan FrancisOn to the acts per se. First up was Alan Francis, again a repeat visit, a very funny chap who nicely takes the mick out of himself, and does some excellent voices – his Roger Moore was great, although some of his other voices all sound like Ronnie Corbett. No matter, he has some great stuff, including a particularly funny routine regarding an obscene member of the Church of Scotland (which we had heard before but it’s still funny). Very enjoyable, lots of material and with good communication with the audience.

Tony CowardsThe second performer, and for me the star of the evening, was Tony Cowards. Using his slightly bizarre accent to great comic effect, and with a persona full of imperfections which make you identify with him, he surprises you with some really well thought out and fantastically delivered observations. I loved his description of the Swindon branch of Ann Summers; the solution to fancying women in boots; and how calling out “the w***er in the black” can be acceptable in one context and not in another. A great set that went down really well.

Josh HowieLast was Josh Howie. Sometimes when they set up the Headline Act to be a really great comic it can fall on its face and I’m afraid that was the case here. He had some clever and thoughtful observations but I found it to be a charmless delivery that missed the mark. He spent at least the first ten minutes discussing poo; it’s not one of my favourite subjects and it quickly palls. Mrs C told me after that she thinks there is only so far that one can take faecal matter in humour. He has some good ideas but in the final delivery they lack the twist of subtlety that can turn otherwise offensiveness into devastating humour – thus I found a lot of his material fairly offensive. I like the fact that he deals with tough subjects – for example, Judaism versus Islam – but instead of revealing something new about it, he just sounded a bit bigoted and offensive. Never mind, you can’t win them all.

Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Derngate, Northampton, 26th November

Angie McEvoySo for the second time, the Screaming Blue Murder was held on a Friday and there was barely a seat available. And what a terrific line up it was, probably the most consistently funny show of all of these we have seen.

Our compere (presumably last minute as not as billed online) was in fact a commere, Angie McEvoy. This gave the whole evening a distinct flavour of its own. Her style is rather quiet and laid back, whereas all the other acts were hi-energy fast and furious types, so it made for a good contrast. She did some great gags, including making up to the 18 year old boy in the front row and suggesting he took her up to her bedroom where she would give his room such a tidy. Halfway through the evening she got a major heckle which she handled brilliantly.

Chris MartinFirst act was Chris Martin, who we have seen before. I remembered some of his routine but not all, and I’m sure he did a lot of new stuff. Very funny, the kind of guy you easily identify with, very confident, made it look effortless.

Nick Doody Second was Nick Doody who I think was my favourite of the night, I loved his routines about not having children, or maybe you would if you could give them back no strings attached within three years; his humour completely struck a chord with me and I loved it.

Simon FoxLast was Simon Fox, who played more of a persona but was still excellent, involving balloons and the banjo but still being really funny. He must have run through the best part of 500 jokes in forty minutes.

One more of these shows before Christmas, looking forward to it!