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 – The Penultimate Sunday Night Comedy Zoom Gig with the Comedy Crate and the Atic – 21st March 2021

Comedy CrateIf it’s Sunday at 6pm then it’s time for the next comedy zoom gig courtesy of those nice people at the Comedy Crate and the Atic. For this show, usual host Ryan Mold handed the reins over to the excellent Rich Wilson, whom we saw MC’ing one of their shows in the garden of Northampton’s Black Prince last year. Rich WilsonHe treated the show very much as he would have a real live show, starting off by chatting individually with a lot of the audience to warm us up for what was to come. This isn’t always easy on a zoom gig but he committed to it perfectly! Amongst his introductory gems were the pros and cons of TikTok and why you never see ghosts in the nude. He’s truly a dab hand at this game, and he kept the pace going nicely throughout the entire show.

president_obonjoApart from Mr W, all the comics in the line up were new to us, and it’s been many a year since I’ve been able to say that! First up was President Obonjo, the alter ego of comedian Benjamin Bello, who seized control of the Lafta Republic by means of an “election”. It’s a wonderful comic creation, with so much scope for the boot’s on the other foot comparisons between first and third world countries – especially post-Brexit. I loved the idea of a new Live-Aid; and the Good President’s address turned into an advert for tourism to his unfortunate nation. Very funny, and I’d love to see him in more natural surroundings sometime soon.

Gareth BerlinerNext we had Gareth Berliner, clearly a naturally funny guy, whose cam angle made it look as though he was begging us for mercy from somewhere down below. No need to beg, as he had some lovely observations about life in lockdown. He conjured up a nice image – whilst missing real gigs, his wife MC’s him into the lounge to make him feel at home. I loved his alternative idea to being clinically vulnerable, and how he befriends burglars, just for company. There’s also a very funny visual punchline with his tattoo of Sweden – don’t ask. Very enjoyable.

Rachel JacksonThird up was Rachel Jackson – definitely not the Prime Minister’s sister as I originally feared – who risked her ten minutes on their being horror fans in the audience – which elicited just one voice of support! Nevertheless she strode courageously on with some material about the film Saw, (which we never did) – but a lot of people had, so at least they got the jokes! Despite our not getting some of the references, she’s a gifted deliverer of material, with a lively madcap persona and bundles of enthusiasm; and we also really enjoyed the idea of her sexting the government. Oh, and if you’re a fat guy – you’re in. Cue all the fat guys preening to cam.

Gianmarco SoresiOur fourth act came to us all the way from New York City – Gianmarco Soresi. What a brilliant comic he is! A breath of fresh air from the start, he had us in hysterics from the word go, with hilarious and effortless observations, all delivered with a truly adroit turn of phrase. Among his superb nuggets was the wonderful insight into why Catholic jokes never get old, his dating experiences with masks, and how you can date en famille. His humour has an element of self-deprecation (actually more of self-creepery if such a thing exists) and works incredibly well. I do hope we get to see him perform live in the UK, as he could be The Next Best Thing.

Brennan ReeceOur headline act was Brennan Reece, a very engaging chap who tells wayward and meandering tales, where the fun is more in the getting there than in reaching the final destination. There were some excellent sequences including the door to door vaccine salesman and the depressed dog, but the joy of his performance was more in the throwaway side observations and turns of phrase. He’s another naturally very funny guy, and a great way to end the show.

Only one more of these Sunday night gigs to come. Will you be there? We will!