Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground at the Derngate, Northampton, 4th October 2019

Screaming Blue MurderYou wait months for a Screaming Blue Murder then, a week later, another one comes around… not that I’m complaining. There isn’t better value, great quality comedy to be had around these parts, imho. Once again, the Underground was pretty packed, although the front rows were a bit empty because of the cowards defaulting to the back of the room, which always creates a challenge.

Maureen YoungerFor one week only our host was the fantastic Maureen Younger, a feisty performer if ever there was one, whom we’ve seen on many occasions at Screaming Blues, in Edinburgh, and as part of an Upfront Comedy line-up. She likes to get to know the front rows (difficult if there’s hardly anyone there, but she persevered) and so we met big-hearted Big Tommy who threw himself into the whole evening, John the documentary-maker (we’re so metropolitan elite here, darling), posh Georgia (who wasn’t that posh after all) and the quiet couple tucked away at the far end who didn’t want to get in anyone’s way. Maureen’s a great MC, with the necessary quick brain and a host of hilarious responses, and by the time she introduced the first act, it was all going swimmingly.

Michael LeggeWe’d seen two of the acts before, so pretty much knew what to expect from them, but, unexpectedly, it turned out to be an evening of surprises. First up was Michael Legge, who was in a very in-your-face mood, delivering his quirky material with occasionally challenging faux-aggression; but all very enjoyable and you know you’re in very safe hands with the experienced Mr Legge. However…. a group of people towards the back started talking quite animatedly, clearly not paying attention to the show at all, and making it difficult for the rest of us to hear Mr Legge’s bon mots. He started to deal with it as though they were heckling him, but in fact they were simply ignoring him, and getting on with their own conversation. Mr Legge wasn’t having any of that; and then the room divided. Us nice people at the front had the show to ourselves, the ignorant idiots at the back who couldn’t be arsed to pay attention, were ridiculed and excluded. He was tempted to call a halt to his part of the act, but Mr Legge carried on with some very enjoyable material about Mrs Brown’s Boys (I’ll say no more) but the first interval arrived in an atmosphere of rather unsettling edginess.

Harriet DyerOur next act was Harriet Dyer, whom we’ve also seen before. Hers can be quite a divisive act, in that she has a very I’m mad, me persona which, depending on the mood of the audience, can either fall flat on its face or can soar the heights of surreal hilarity. Fortunately for us all, she was on brilliant form and managed to unite the divided audience in appreciation of her ludicrously funny act. She uses the physicality of her rather unruly, bendy body to great effect, as well as having some totally way-out routines, such as her brother taking an interview covered in spiders. Brilliantly funny; and for her ability to unite an unruly crowd, I think she should become the new Minister for Brexit.

Matt WelcomeLast up, and in a change of programme, we had Matt Welcome. We’d not seen him before, and he has a very different style. Laid back, inquisitive, personal; as his name suggests, he welcomes you into his world to explore a sequence of odd observations where he takes ideas to way-out, bizarre extremes. It’s all very nicely judged and cleverly thought through, and is entertaining rather than belly-laugh-triggering. If I’d been programming, I’d have put Mr Welcome on first and Mr Legge on last… although how that would have worked out with the unruly bunch at the back I don’t know.

So, all in all, a very good night, if a trifle odd one! Next Screaming Blue Murder is on 25th October, but in a triumph of comedy clashes, that’s also the night that Ben Elton has sold out the Derngate Auditorium…

Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground at the Derngate, Northampton, 16th September 2016

Screaming Blue MurderSummer’s lease hath ended, gentle reader, which can only mean one thing – the return of the Screaming Blue Murder season to keep our spirits high through the oncoming months of mist and mellow fruitfulness. Our genial host, Dan Evans, was back in charge, and in great Dan Evansform as he did his best to manage front-row Hayley (who’d had a few), the regular teachers, the newbies in the third row who did a flit after the second act and the rest of our packed house. Lots of excellent new material from Dan – which is most appreciated!

Tom GoodliffeOur first act was a change to the advertised programme – Tom Goodliffe. He is a tall chap and clearly likes to discover if he’s the tallest chap in the room. He wasn’t. He has a nice nerdy friendly approach, and did a good job of keeping Hayley and her crew under control as she got progressively more worse for wear. He called out for any accountants to identify themselves – very disappointed that Mrs Chrisparkle kept her head low at that point. He did some nice double-entry material anyway. I also enjoyed his maths hip-hop songs and he’s the only comic I’ve seen who has taken advantage of the comedic effects of the different speeds of a tube escalator and its supporting handrail. Good fun and an excellent ice-breaker.

Harriet DyerOur second act was Harriet Dyer, whom we were meant to see in Edinburgh but just ran out of puff for that particular show, so it’s good that we’ve finally seen her perform. To use the description quirky would be an understatement. I did find her funny but she’s the kind of performer that divides audiences – hence the departure of the newbies after her act. I really loved her material about getting hair removal product from Poundland – trust me, don’t do it! Mrs C confessed that if she’d seen her for a full hour in Edinburgh she might have had to rest up for the remainder of the day – she’s quite tiring to watch! But she went down well with the audience – on the whole.

Steve BestBoth the first two acts were new to us but, last on for the night was Steve Best, whom we had seen twice before. In a sense it was a shame that he and Harriet were on the same bill as they both have a very manic approach to their comedy. However, Steve is a sure-fire, super confident winning comic; littering his speech with throwaway meaningless lines that build up over the course of the act to overwhelm you with the utter silliness of it all – and it’s also very funny. He has a surprisingly fine aptitude for a spot of magic – which you’re definitely not expecting – and what he can do with a long balloon is nobody’s business. He completely nailed it – the evening, not the balloon.

There’s another Screaming Blue in two weeks’ time – unfortunately, we can’t go, but you can have our seats!

The Edinburgh Fringe One-Weeker 2016 – Harriet Dyer: ‘We’d Prefer Someone a Bit More Mainstream’, 25th August 2016

Harriet DyerFor our next show we’re going to see a stand-up comic on personal recommendation. The source of the recommendation is a secret, but if we don’t enjoy the show I know who I’m going to complain to! It’s Harriet Dyer: ‘We’d Prefer Someone a Bit More Mainstream’, performed (unsurprisingly) by Harriet Dyer, at OneUpM @ Cowgatehead, 65 Cowgate, at 17:30 on Thursday 25th. Let’s look at the blurb: “As heard on BBC Radio 4 Extra. Harriet has many voices that reside in her head. Some are legendary and some are a big bag of dicks. All of them love 90s tunes, are obsessed with comedy, but are also pushing to be a lone, off the grid wolf. A tricky beaver indeed. ‘A bundle of whimsical hilarity… a breath of fresh air… will have you in stitches’ ( If you like your comedy inventive, whimsical and full of tender moments, be still your beating H Dyerheart this is indeed for you.”

I’m really uncertain what to expect, but simply checking out Harriet Dyer’s website had me in stitches, so I’m optimistic for some top quality teatime comedy. Check back around 6.45 to see how funny it was and by then the preview blog for our next show should be available to read too.

Sorry – this one’s not going to happen. Practicality and tiredness means we have to miss one show, so the one we hadn’t paid in advance for seemed the logical choice. Hopefully we’ll see Harriet on another occasion! Update: Yes we will! She’s appearing at Screaming Blue Murder this season, so we will have the chance to see her after all!