Review – The Comedy Crate presents Edinburgh Previews with Ryan Mold and Josh Pugh at the Albion Brewery, Northampton, 22nd May 2022

Comedy CrateIt’s back to the cosy and welcoming surroundings of the Albion Brewery for some Edinburgh Preview shows courtesy of The Comedy Crate, and a double bill featuring Josh Pugh and Ryan Mold. These shows are, by their very nature, work in progress, so they will always be a little rough around the edges. The comics are there to make you laugh, but at the same time, you’re there to let them know what’s funny and what isn’t! It’s a two-way street.

First up was Ryan Mold, with his WIP Generation Gap show. This is taken from the Edinburgh Fringe website and describes his show better than I can: “In the mid-80s, at 6 months old, my grandparents become my legal guardians. They showered me with love, but being guided through life by two 70-year-olds with simply no understanding of modern living was a mixture of confusion and embarrassment. I was having to take advice, navigate school and grow into a man from a generation who are clearly not up to date with the 90s trends of the internet, fashion and modern cooking. If I was ever to have a girlfriend, my grandparents’ thrifty car choice, mannerisms and “alternative solutions” would certainly not help!”

Ryan MoldIt’s a great idea for a show and Ryan shares a number of his childhood memories; the bizarre, the disastrous, and the hilarious. Effortlessly affable, he sets up a strong and confident rapport with the audience and it was a very enjoyable set. The structure of the show is absolutely in place; all that’s needed now is to bring in a few more recognisable and relatable experiences that make the audience react “yes! Absolutely!” This is quite a personal show, and you get the feeling that Ryan is sharing some very private moments, so the authenticity of his material is totally bang on. Work in progress indeed, but I’m sure the finished product will be a success. If you’re in Edinburgh over the summer, the show will be at Just the Tonic at the Mash House every day from 4th to 28th August except 15th.

After the interval, we welcomed Josh Pugh, with his show, Sausage, Egg, Josh Pugh, Chips and Beans. Again, here’s the description from the Edinburgh Fringe website: “English Comedian of the Year winner and star of Comedy Central Live and Dave’s Hypothetical. Tour support for Joe Lycett and ‘almost certain future star’ (Chortle.co.uk), Josh takes us through the past two years of his life, trying to have a baby and accidently losing Captain Tom’s birthday cards in his own unique and hilarious style. Amassing over three million views on his Twitter videos and regularly headlining the biggest clubs in the country Josh is ready to f*ck shit up this Fringe (as a friend).”

Josh PughWhilst I can’t comment on his ability to fulfil that latter promise, this work in progress show is already in very good shape and only needs a few very remote tweakings to become oven-ready, as the Prime Minister would have it. It’s a great title, which gives way to his first excellent joke, but doesn’t have any relationship with the content of the set, which takes the slow progress from Josh and Mrs Pugh’s initial desire to have a baby, through the rigours of set-time sex and the ignominies of IVF, to a final happy ending. Wrapped around this tale are several other excellent comedy gems, including the way he expresses how Covid is still “a thing”, but perhaps not quite what it was; and the conjecture of the people in the hospital meeting room next door to the room where he is engaged on producing his perfectly respectable official sperm deposit. You also wouldn’t employ him in a post office sorting room! Josh has terrific delivery and energy, and I’m sure his Edinburgh show will be a scream. He will be on at Monkey Barrel Comedy every day from 3rd to 28th August except 15th and 16th.

More Edinburgh previews on the way from the Comedy Crate, including two full-day line-ups and many other splendid comedy stars. All the details are here.

Review – Comedy Crate at a Secret Venue, Northampton, 27th March 2022

Comedy CrateA Secret Venue, how exciting! We didn’t find out where it was until a couple of days before and I’m afraid I still can’t tell you where it was held, or else I’d have to kill you. On second thoughts, I don’t think it was that hush-hush. It was at the Albion Brewery in Kingswell Street, an attractive, atmospheric place, with excellent sightlines, proper chairs and a well-stocked bar. An excellent addition to Northampton’s comedy venues!

Jamie AllertonOur MC for the evening was Jamie Allerton, whom we saw hosting a Comedy Crate gig in the garden of the Black Prince, Northampton, last September. He’s a bright spark, a powerhouse of joie de vivre, who makes the evening go with a swing. He has a terrific rapport with the audience, getting to know us all, putting us at our ease, but with some surprisingly unexpected questions posed to us too! When he discovered that two members of the audience, with no association with each other, both worked with autistic adults, his questions to work out who was best at their job was inspired! A great host with huge energy.

SlimOur first act was someone new to us, Slim. I reckon that’s a nickname. That’s not to say he isn’t slim, but it’s just that I can’t visualise it on a birth certificate! He has some nice material about hating school plays – I’m sure he’s not alone there – and also his occasionally vengeful life as a London bus driver. I particularly enjoyed his sequence about imagining a Jamaican war correspondent. He has a warm, approachable style and very enjoyable material, and was a very good start to the evening.

Alexandra HaddowNext up was another new name to us, Alexandra Haddow, a native of Corby, now in exile in London. Lively and instantly hilarious, she has a lot of near-the-knuckle humour that she pitches perfectly. It’s a lovely idea to imagine if the kind of questions a woman faces when getting a coil fitted were also posed to a man getting Viagra. We loved her stuff about dating conspiracy theorists (having only endured the wayward beliefs of a similarly-minded taxi driver the previous day) and the problems of having to share a bed with your dad. Smart, likeable and extremely funny, we’d love to see her again.

Mark SimmonsHeadline act was the brilliant Mark Simmons, whom we’ve seen a few times before and he always hits the ground running with his wonderful throwaway style. You always get multiple jokes per minute with Mark, whether they be gently surreal, painfully punful or totally outrageous. He must have the quickest of brains to bring in so many inventive brilliant lines based on what he sees and hears in the audience. On top form as usual, and a superb way to end the show.

Plenty more Comedy Crate gigs in the offing; check their website for more details!

Review – The Comedy Crate at the Charles Bradlaugh, Northampton, 10th March 2022

Comedy CrateTime for another of those excellent comedy nights at the Charles Bradlaugh courtesy of those nice people at The Comedy Crate, who had assembled a terrific cast of funny people for our entertainment. We were a top quality audience too, which really helped the evening go with a swing!

Cally BeatonOur MC for the night was Cally Beaton, new to us, but a very safe pair of hands to run the show. She has an excellent ability to dovetail between the acts,  sometimes referring to the themes that the other comics had mentioned, and that helped the show flow very easily. One of the unifying themes of the evening was people who worked in shops and it’s amazing how something as simple as that can really catch on as a source of spontaneous comedy, and Cally mined it to the full. She has a great rapport with the audience and a very warm and friendly style, and kept the spirit of the show high octane throughout the evening.

Jack GleadowOur first act, and someone we’ve only seen online before, was Jack Gleadow, a likeable young chap with brilliant delivery and a very pacey set. He’s another guy who instantly connects with the audience, with his unassuming but knowing style. He incorporates short sound and musical accompaniments to some of his act which works a treat. Trust me, you’ll never listen to Hot Butter’s Popcorn in quite the same way again. We also loved his observations about Primark, and how they don’t apply to Argos. Very assured, very funny.

Arielle SoumaNext up, and someone else new to us, was Arielle Souma, who plays on having that most irresistible of qualities – a sexy French accent – and mixes it with some brilliant comedy material about relationships. It’s a clever blend of physical self-deprecation and supreme self-confidence, and you can never tell which way she’s going to go at any point! We loved her take on having a relationship with someone else after your spouse has died; and she turns racism on its head to great comic effect. A terrific stage presence, she went down a storm with the audience.

Russell Hicks againOur headline act, and someone I always try to see whenever possible, was Russell Hicks, that master of creating fantasy comic scenarios from absolutely nothing. He discovered comedy gold with front row Jed and his amassed pals scattered around the audience, such as generous host Carrack, and Amir Amir (so good they named him twice?) who was interested in taking Russell’s spare hotel room. There was also a front row character named Sticky Mouse and I can’t quite remember how he gained that dubious epithet. Mr H has an extraordinary talent to think on his feet; as a result the entire audience were in hysterics the whole time. Amazing work!

The next gig at the Bradlaugh is on 14th April, but before then The Comedy Crate have an online fundraiser gig for Ukraine on Monday 14th, a new material night at the Wheatsheaf in Dallington on Tuesday 15th, and a special show on Sunday 27th at a secret venue in town. All the details can be found here!

Review – The Comedy Crate at the Charles Bradlaugh, Northampton, 13th January 2022

Comedy CrateIt’s been a good few years since we’ve seen comedy at the Charles Bradlaugh and – apart from the obvious pandy-problem – I wonder why it’s been so long. It’s an excellent venue for this kind of show; comfortable, with great sightlines, a well-run fully-stocked bar within ten seconds walk of your seat, and with those nice people at The Comedy Crate in charge of hiring the turns, you always get a great programme to enjoy.

Paul RevillUnusually for us, three of the four comedians who plied their trade at last night’s show were new to us. Our MC was Paul Revill, an engaging and friendly chap who brings a positive vibe to the stage, with that rare knack of interacting with the audience and encouraging our participation without terrifying us at the same time. He elicited details about the secret hair salon on Abington Street, the lads celebrating the birth of a baby and got me to suggest that we should welcome the first act on from our collective groins of love – you had to be there. Amongst his other material I loved his explanation of how a Quality Street could be an insult after Christmas over-indulgence. He kept everything going at a great pace and set us up superbly for the fun to follow.

Matt RichardsonOur first act was Matt Richardson, of whom I’ve heard but never seen, an energetic and riotously funny guy who takes some of the more delicate aspects of relationships and explores them without fear. I loved the idea that, once you get a girlfriend, you’re no longer in charge of your bedtimes – it’s so true! Brilliant observations about over-rated sexual practices, and (literally) hands-on material about how a man deals with a tampon. Mrs Chrisparkle remarked how it’s becoming more common for male comedians to do period jokes – which, let’s face it, is where angels fear to tread – and Mr Richardson did it with great aplomb and got it absolutely right, judging from the laughter coming from Mrs C. Great work!

Fiona RidgewellNext up, and another new name to us, was Fiona Ridgewell; another warm and engaging personality who uses her physical presence to excellent effect with observations about the usefulness (or otherwise) of having big nostrils and a long neck. She has great observations about what it’s like to be a member of an all-female household of three generations, and is very adept with interacting with the crowd, which was great fun. She also has a great sequence about the knock-on effect of being dumped by a boyfriend without explanation. Nicely self-deprecating and with loads of attack, she’s definitely one to watch!

Dan AntopolskiOur headline act, and the only person we’ve seen before – and always enjoyed – was Dan Antopolski, as sure-footed as a mountain gazelle with his brilliant manner of setting up an intellectually-based premise and then kicking it in the teeth. With so many hilarious observations about family life, it’s a pleasure to be entertained by someone who knows their craft inside and out. Superb.

The next Comedy Crate gig at the Bradlaugh is on February 10th – we can’t go, but you should!

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 – Comedy Crate in the back garden of the Black Prince, Northampton, 19th August 2021

Comedy CrateWhilst Mrs Chrisparkle and I are still wary about going into comedy clubs with neither social distancing nor decent ventilation, it’s great to have the opportunity to see live comedy in the extensive gardens of the Black Prince; really, it’s what picnic tables were made for. We were joined by Lord and Lady Prosecco, and Prinz Mark von Köln, heir to the Prosecco estate, for an evening of 100% top bankable comedy – there wasn’t a down moment to be had all evening.

Javier JarquinOur MC was the brilliant Javier Jarquin, whom we’ve seen at Screaming Blue Murder and also doing his excellent Card Ninja show in Edinburgh – I was wondering if he’d get the cards out, but it probably wasn’t the right occasion. He has a terrific rapport with the audience which lasted all the way through the evening. He gets lots of great material out of the juxtaposition between his appearance and his accent, being a Chinese/Latino Kiwi. I loved his explanation of the difference between the Aussie and Kiwi accents, and what it must have been like the first time the All Blacks started a game with a haka. It’s always worth booking when Mr J is on the bill.

Rory O'HanlonOur first act was Dublin’s Rory O’Hanlon, whom we’ve seen once before as a guest on a Spank! in the halcyon pre-pandemic days. His act is packed with very funny, very relatable material; also peppered with some excellent accents! I loved the idea of getting your vaccine at Lidl and the perils of taking a flight home from Australia with Ryanair. He also has some excellent material about moving back in with your first girlfriend. Full of attack, great timing – just a very funny act.

Tadiwa MahlungeNext up, and new to us, was Tadiwa Mahlunge, the only member of his family to be saddled with a traditional name, much to his annoyance, which provides him with lots of excellent material, including the downsides of his name Tad sounding like Dad, which gets him into a lot of trouble. A quieter approach from the other acts in the show last night, which makes him stand out as maybe more thoughtful and with material that comes genuinely from his own experiences. I must admit, I didn’t get all his references, but then I am quite old. Very enjoyable!

Anna MannOur headline act, and also new to us, was the alter ego of Colin Hoult, Anna Mann. Star of low budget cult films and plays that nobody has seen, she takes us through some reminiscences of her thespian days, including a hilarious re-invention of The Tempest, how she was in the sequel of Much Ado, side mentions of ex- and late-husbands, and her continued quest to Stop the Fascists in material she freely admits hasn’t changed in four years. We all knew Lesley the Yoga Teacher would turn out to be a Fascist. It’s a remarkable act, incredibly funny, totally convincing, with just the right amount of knowing looks and audience asides to convey that it is all make believe yet still you lap up every word of her experiences as though they were gospel. Absolutely brilliant, and we’d definitely love to see her again.

There’s another gloriously outdoors Comedy Crate gig at the Black Prince on September 16th – we’re going, are you?

Review – The Comedy Crate at the Black Prince Pub, Northampton, 15th July 2021

Comedy CrateThose lovely comedy lovers at the Comedy Crate had already resumed residence in the back garden of the Black Prince a few weeks ago, but this was the first show that we’d been able to catch – and my first non-Zoom comedy gig since their show last October. Such are the ways of the pandemic. The line-up had unavoidably changed a bit between being first announced and the show on the night, but that’s often the way with live gigs!

Jenny CollierOur MC for the night was Jenny Collier, whom we last saw on one of the Comedy Crate’s online gigs earlier this year. She’s a sparky presence, with her charming appearance and cut-glass accent acting as a great juxtaposition to some ribald language. She’s been working as a GP receptionist for some of these Covid times, which was a source of some excellent material. However, I most enjoyed her account of giving a – I can’t dress this up in any other way – stool sample for the medics to explore. We were an occasionally unruly crowd, so she had a lot on her plate for the evening, but she was great fun and kept the show going at a great pace.

Olaf Falafel Our first act, and one of my all-time favourite comedians, was Olaf Falafel, whom we’ve seen many times in Edinburgh. In his trademark stripy blue sailor’s shirt, which makes him look like an extra from There is Nothing Like a Dame, he attacked us with some brilliant material, playing off the crowd beautifully, and ending up with his famous biscuitology routine. His comedy is a wonderful mixture of the absurd and the childish, but with lots of devastatingly clever observations and woefully funny puns. Great to see him again.

Toussaint DouglassNext up, and new to us, was Toussaint Douglass; a naturally funny guy with a very relaxed style but with some strong punchy material full of surprises, including some challenging stuff about race. A very likeable personality, with some nice self-deprecating observations, he struck up an excellent rapport with the audience. Very enjoyable, and someone to look forward to seeing again!

Tony LawFor our headline act we had the rather wacky and unpredictable Tony Law, whom we’ve seen a few times before and sometimes he goes down a storm, and sometimes he doesn’t! I very much liked his use of accents in his act, and he’s supremely confident with dealing with the crowd; you either “get” his flights of fancy or you don’t and, personally, on the whole, I don’t! But the majority of the audience did, so I admit it’s my problem not his!

There’s another Comedy Crate in the garden of the Black Prince on Thursday 19th August. We’re going, are you?

Review – The Final Sunday Online Comedy Zoom Gig by The Comedy Crate and the Atic – 28th March 2021

Comedy CrateAll good things have to come to an end. And even though it’s not a good thing, let’s hope the pandemic is one of them. But before that, Sunday night saw the last (allegedly) of the excellent online comedy gigs hosted by The Atic and The Comedy Crate through the unbelievably helpful Zoom. Ryan MoldOnce again our host was Ryan Mold, getting to know some of the online attendees, including part-time actor and recycling expert David, who may have to instruct our new local council in all things Green Bin – important work! Ryan also shared some of his new material relating to the pleasures of Facebook Marketplace, which is funnier than it sounds!

Laura LexxFive acts for our entertainment again, and first up was Laura Lexx, with a very sparky and confident approach to the world of zoom comedy, looking back on all the most dreadful moments of the lockdowns, including home haircuts and the unashamed purchase of a pricey dog. She also had some great material contrasting natural feminism with the need to be in comfy clothes. Very engaging and funny!

Philip SimonNext up, and new to us, was Philip Simon, who used a very showbiz backdrop to make us feel we really were at a comedy club. By contrast he has a rather gentle delivery, and enjoys clever wordplay in his material, giving rise to excellent observations about Geordie sheep-shaggers, withdrawal agreements, and how to make a man happy. He also had some entertaining material about home-schooling, which is something a lot of people can relate to!

ANick Pagefter Ryan was concerned about one of the audience members who had gone off – only to discover he was doing the washing-up (such is the dynamic of a zoom gig), our third act was Nick Page, also new to us, who has a very wry and dour persona; the kind of comic that makes you laugh even though he himself never breaks into a smile once. I really enjoyed his material about posh relatives, and the joys of becoming a father at the age of 50. He communicated a lot with individual audience members which integrated really well into his act – that can be a risky strategy online, but his natural authority meant no one wouldn’t dare co-operate! Very entertaining, and someone we would like to see again when the world gets back to normal.

Eshaan AkbarThen came Eshaan Akbar, whom we’ve seen a few times now and always mixes great observational comedy with food for thought. I really enjoyed his sequence about getting annoyed that people don’t pronounce his name properly – which has a nice sting in the tail, his struggle to get the attention and affection of his father, and why the Covid vaccine is the perfect Empire product. He always delivers his material with great fluidity and pinpoint accuracy, and I look forward to seeing him again sometime soon too.

paul-mccaffreyOur headline act was Paul McCaffrey, who had appeared on one of the other gigs earlier this spring. He also has great style and attack, and I loved all his stuff about marketing clothes through what celebrities wear, and also his observations about Twitter. He did repeat some of his material from his previous gig – but, if you hadn’t heard it before, it was very funny!

So this has been described as the last of these zoom gigs as we start to emerge from the blur of lockdown – but I wouldn’t be remotely surprised to see more online comedy from this team in the future!

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!

Review – Yet another online zoom comedy gig with the Comedy Crate and Atic – 14th March 2021

Comedy CrateThe online comedy gigs courtesy of Zoom, the Comedy Crate and the Atic keep coming on Sunday nights, and last night we enjoyed another great show with top class comics. Our host Ryan Mold kept things fast and punchy – including a quick hello to us at the beginning, where I confused him over the details of my ex-career – it’s not an easy thing to explain in a sentence or two! A lovely introduction to the show included Ryan’s speculation on Ryan Moldhow Aldi staff get recruited, and what connects Abraham Lincoln to VE Day.

darren walshOur first act was the wonderful Darren Walsh, punster supreme, who made terrific use of the technical possibilities offered by Zoom – having seen him before I’d forgotten how much he likes to frame his material with a dash of multi-media. He has such an inventive approach to punning, that sometimes you have to play back his words over in your head to quite work out which bit was the pun! I particularly enjoyed the Whitney Houston moment, the dentist material, the Brady Bunch and the CAPS ON gags. Always a joy, can’t wait to see him live and properly again soon!

Nick DoodyNext was Nick Doody, a favourite from many Screaming Blue Murder shows, with some great new and highly topical material. Zoom can make it difficult for a comic who naturally relies on all the things happening around them during the gig, but Mr D didn’t let his enforced isolation get in the way. I really enjoyed all his stuff about leaving a zoom meeting (first time I’ve seen an online call-back work!) and the fact that he can see himself performing. He’s always great value and was excellent as usual.

Dinesh NathanOur middle act was Dinesh Nathan, new to us; a friendly chap with some clever lockdown material about having to confess you’ve been walking with someone else, and preparing for a zoom call just as you would for meeting in person. I liked his comparisons between his Sri Lankan heritage and his Britishness. He’s a naturally funny guy and I’d like to see him again IRL when we can!

Lindsey SantoroNext came Lindsey Santoro, whom we saw at the Black Prince only last autumn in a Comedy Crate garden gig. She has a wonderfully bubbly and madcap persona, and a no-holds-barred attitude to jokes about sex from all angles (literally). I thoroughly enjoyed her material about the Rock Climbing Wall and the profiteroles line is a great send-off on which to end the act. Her enthusiasm and enjoyment for what she’s doing really comes across to the audience and she encourages us to share in her fun. Hugely entertaining.

Our headline act, and also new to us, was American Dave Fulton, live from his garage as he introduced us to his collectable motorbikes. A lot of his material was pretty near the mental health knuckle, but he always got away with it very nicely – I particularly enjoyed his fantasising about Trump’s death, as well as his observations about life in Newcastle and Blackpool. He also talked about the unexpected aspects of adopting a child of a different race than your own; some incredibly funny observations there. But in the end, it was all about the motorbikes, as one of the audience members couldn’t contain his excitement at Dave’s collection!

It looks like there will be two more Sunday gigs before – heavens forfend! – we might be able to start enjoying proper live comedy nights come April! Here’s the details for the next one!