Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground at the Royal and Derngate, Northampton, 24th September 2021

Screaming Blue MurderHallelujah for the return of Screaming Blue Murder, that brilliant value, top quality comedy night out that we’ve missed so much since the beginning of Lockdown 1.0. Ridiculous to think that the last time we saw Dan Evans bound onto the stage at the Underground was way back on 1st February 2020.  Since then, we’ve all got a little bit older and a little bit wiser (those of us who made it) but some things never change – like Screaming Blue. Dan still presents a top comedy show with three fabulous acts and two fantastic intervals.

This wasn’t the first time we’d been back to the Underground since the pandemic, and as I mentioned when I wrote about seeing Myra Dubois a couple of weeks ago, the ventilation in the Underground is so much better now – not only safer, but so much more comfortable. Gone are the days of heavy sweating in a flimsy shirt in the height of winter – in the Underground, at least – and you definitely feel more Covidly secure in there nowadays. OK, we were still two of only about five people who masked up in the theatre on Friday, but that’s our choice and we’re sticking to it. I really like the new seating layout for Screaming Blue, with three rows of seats surrounding the stage on all sides, and then further rows of seats at the back of the room. It was a sell-out, but even so you still felt like there was plenty of personal space. We’ve changed our favourite position to furthest right near the side door, on the front row of the back block. You get a perfect view, beautifully ventilated, and you feel close enough to the action without putting yourself too much in the firing line for any comic who wants to chat with you (however – see Bennett Arron, below.)

Dan EvansIt was a joy to welcome Dan back, even if he has left his trademark pinstriped suit somewhere on some bedroom floor that he can’t remember. He had plenty of rapport to strike up with the front rows, which were largely occupied by an 18th birthday party night out, so he had his work cut out. He sets the tone for the evening perfectly with jokes old and new! And it wouldn’t be the same without him.

Mike CoxOur first act was Mike Cox, whom we’d only seen online till now in a couple of Comedy Crate/Rock the Atic shows that kept us going through the lean lockdown months. I liked him online, but in real life he was so much more – virtually a completely different person, with a brilliant set of engaging comic sequences, partly stemming from the last eighteen months of lockdown mayhem and partly from managing his unruly children as they run riot in Aldi. Full of recognisable observations, he was lively, funny and likeable. A great start to the evening.

Wendy WasonNext up, and someone we haven’t seen for four years, was Wendy Wason, another smart and engaging comic whose material in the past has been firmly bedded in sex (if I can put it that way) and today is much more concerned with her children, which I guess is an inevitable consequence of her earlier material. We just spent her whole half-hour laughing, which doesn’t need any analysis from me.

Bennett ArronOur headline act, and someone we haven’t seen for (gasp!) ten years, was Bennett Arron, who revealed that it was his first live gig in two years, but he took to it like the master he is. Confessing to the double whammy of being both Jewish and Welsh, he has a lovely self-deprecating air which he can turn into some killer finish lines. When he asked, I boldly admitted to being married for 33 years (thank you for the round of applause everyone) proving that you can be spotted from the back block of seats. Little did I know that our brief chat would result in a brilliant callback at the end of his routine. I’ve been to almost 300 comedy gigs in the last fifteen years and it’s the first time I’ve been a callback. Sincere thanks for that! A fabulous end to the night.

Next Screaming Blue Murder is on 22nd October. Want to come? Of course you do!

Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Derngate, Northampton, 14th October 2011

We’ve had to miss a couple of Screaming Blue Murders recently so it was good to get back into the comedy club groove last Friday. Dan Evans was compering, and it’s been the first time we’ve seen him for a few months. A new experience: he encountered a little difficulty with the audience for repeating the same material he’s used here before. He started a joke and a member of the audience shouted out the punchline. The ironic thing was, we’d not heard the joke before, whereas earlier he had told his Travelodge joke that we’ve heard at least a dozen times. Dan you are very funny comedian and a great host, but we do need a bit more new material!!

Raymond and Mr Timkins RevueFirst act was the Raymond and Mr Timpkins Revue. I think I can safely say this is an act like no other. 95% mime – or maybe that should be 95% larking about – these two guys act out the lyrics from about a hundred or so cut and pasted pop songs in one long musical stream; mainly with the aid of big aide-memoir type cards. Some of it is incredibly inventive; some of it is heavily telegraphed; some of it is a bit gross; for us, all of it was belly-laugh funny. You’ll either get this and love it, or you won’t and hate it. By far the majority loved it. With some cleaner material you could see this going down a storm at the Royal Variety Performance. Excellent!

Jen Bruster Next we had Jen Brister. She had a great rapport with the audience and some excellent material about being a lesbian with a Catholic Spanish mother. She got good humour out of taking the rise out of posh locations and also does some great Australian observations. Extremely good.

Bennett Arron Headline act was Bennett Arron. His rather quiet and slightly dour Welsh persona made a nice contrast with the maniacal Raymond and Mr Timpkins and the brightly confident Jen Brister. He had some very good observations and funny scenarios and one of the best put-down lines I’ve heard: “I’m always happy to accept a heckle from a pretty girl – so Shush!” But about five minutes before the end he lost it and couldn’t think how to end the act – which kind of killed the energy. He did come up with something but it felt like a detached coda. The audience were kind however so no harm done to the jolly spirit of the evening. Three very good acts, who you’d be very happy to see again.