Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground at the Derngate, Northampton, 17th May 2013

Dan EvansAll good things come to an end, and last Friday’s Screaming Blue Murder was the last of this season. It’s been a fantastic series of comedy nights, with I would guess record attendances and a really good range of comics taking to the stage. Our compere was Dan Evans, as usual, ever genial apart from when he puts the boot in to deserving front row spectators. Thanks Dan for coming up with some new material and also for knowing when the old stuff is what they really want!

Joe RowntreeAs has been the pattern recently, of the three comics, one was new to us and two we had seen before. Our newby this week was Joe Rowntree, an affable chap who looks like the kind you could share a happy pint with. He has a relatively quiet style which means his wicked punchline moments have a good shock value. We enjoyed his exploration of the nastier side of his wife, and the tricks she plays on him when he’s not expecting it, and I really loved his routine about Prince William wanking; yes, honestly. Excellent stuff.

Jen BristerSecond up was Jen Brister, who we enjoyed seeing here a couple of years ago. Some of her material was the same as last time – including the brilliant coming out as lesbian to her Spanish catholic mother, but there was also some new stuff about visiting friends with new babies and her interactions with men, and she also maintained an excellent rapport with the audience. Extremely funny and she got a great reception.

Josh HowieFinal act was Josh Howie, who we saw nearly two years ago and who we didn’t like at all that evening. This time round was a fascinating experience. He started off by talking to the front row which sparked off about twenty minutes of really hilarious observational comedy, about a disastrous visit to the hospital with his wife which centred on his need to be proved right and to get his own back. It absolutely tapped in to one of the least honourable aspects of most relationships and it was spot on. A vast improvement on last time! Then he realised he still had about ten minutes left to do, which he introduced by saying “and I haven’t even talked about blacks and Muslims yet”. I sighed inwardly as he reverted to the type of jokes I despised last time. He wasn’t perhaps quite so offensive this time round, but it’s such a shame that he can’t get past this really rather unpleasant material.

Nevertheless a great night. No doubt the season will start again in the autumn. I will be first in the queue!

Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground at the Derngate, Northampton, 8th February 2013

Screaming Blue MurderAnother two weeks and it’s back to the Underground for the latest Screaming Blue Murder. They’ve removed the rubber flooring that had been laid over the carpet there on that occasion, so maybe it really was Fetishist’s Week last time, as Mrs Chrisparkle had suggested?

Simon ClaytonAnyway, no Dan Evans this week – and I think this was the first time that we had seen all three acts and the compere previously, so I wondered how entertaining we would find the evening. No problem – all four were excellent. Our compere was Simon Clayton, a slightly larger-than-life, cheeky chap who easily gets you on his side. His interaction with the audience is very easy and natural, and being, like him, slightly well rounded in the stomach department myself, I find I identified nicely with a lot of his material. He kept it moving really well all evening. Physically, he puts me in mind of a more risqué Dangermouse.

Karen BayleyOur first act was Karen Bayley, who, I think it is fair to say, did more or less precisely the same act that she has done on the last two occasions she’s been here. Fortunately, it works very well. She usually appeals more to the female funnybone, sometimes to the slight isolation of the gents in the audience, but this time she seemed to play to both sexes more evenly. She always likes to choose a young guy in the front row to play up to – this time it was Tom, 28 – not as young as usual but he certainly went the desired shade of cerise.

Robert WhiteSecond act was Robert White – with his unusual comic combination of being gay and having Asperger’s Syndrome. I remember last time he kind of grew into the act and ended up being really funny. Well this time he went hammer and tongs into it from the start and was a complete riot. He uses his extraordinary brain function to great comic effect, inventing cuttingly funny lyrics on the spot to reflect the make up of the audience and his interaction with them. He too likes to pay attention to a guy on the front row – this time it was Simon who got the benefit of his “I’d Do Anything” routine – and it was brilliant. The crowd loved it.

Alan FrancisHeadline act was Alan Francis – and I thought he might have a difficult time after Robert White. But no – Mr Francis is as cool as a cucumber and had the audience in the palm of his proverbial. With that educated Scottish accent, he sounds like a smuttier version of Ronnie Corbett. His confidence is just perfectly pitched and his is an assured act. Excellent stuff with some very funny material.

One of the best line-ups we’ve had for a very long time. Packed again too, which is always rewarding, and everyone seemed to have a great night.