Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground at the Derngate, Northampton, 9th March 2018

Screaming Blue MurderA sneaky extra Screaming Blue show snuck into the Underground, as the production originally scheduled for these couple of days was cancelled a few weeks back. Once again Dan Evans was in charge of a full house of Northamptonshire’s finest weirdos; I include myself in that number. We had Becky celebrating her 21st birthday along with about half the town by the sound of Dan Evansit; posh Katie with her Glaswegian-sounding pilot dad (Dan ingratiating himself in the hope of a long-haul discount); and the front row couple taking father-in-law out for the night. As usual, Dan rose to the challenge of getting us all in the mood, so much so that we didn’t have to be pre-tested to see if we could create enough welcoming decibels for each of the three acts.

Matt GreenFirst up was someone we’ve seen before but only briefly guesting in Edinburgh at Spank! and in Rob Deering’s Beat This, Matt Green. He’s a baby-faced guy whose innocent looks belie a mischievous interior. He had some excellent material about how he looks like a cherub, which leads on to the things you can say to/about a man but you can’t to a woman – and he’s absolutely right! As a good example, no one ever said to a woman, when looking at her partner, “you’re boxing above your weight there!” Mr Green has a gentle delivery but provides stories and observations that pack a punch. He creates a great rapport with the audience and he went down very well.

Harriet BraineNext was someone new to us, Harriet Braine; she specialises in comedy songs that aren’t just about farting and sex. Appropriate for Northampton, she sang a paean to the designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh to the tune of Natalie Imbruglia’s Torn – and it was very inventive and clever and the audience lapped it up; who knew we were all so cultured? (Well Northampton does have the only house in England designed by the great man). Then we had Abba’s tribute to French Impressionism, which was brilliant; one song that bombed because no one (certainly I didn’t) had a clue what it was all about; and then a comedy song about Hieronymus Bosch. Yes you read that right, the fifteenth century Dutch painter. We all really enjoyed her act, a veritable gallery of musical fine arts; I think she shocked us into appreciation, but it worked very well.

Howard ReadOur final act was Howard Read, whom we’ve seen here three times before; a very likeable chap who always comes up with funny material about being a parent, which seems particularly rewarding if you are one. As I’m not, I always slightly feel that his act isn’t really for me, but nevertheless he has plenty to keep everyone amused, with a nice self-deprecating style and the best monsters-under-the-bed lullaby you could ever wish to hear. Sometimes when he engages with any difficult people in the audience he doesn’t always win; it was a shame that Becky’s birthday party drowned out some of his material, but that’s what happens late on a Friday night in Northampton.

Excellent night’s entertainment; there’s another one later this month that unfortunately we can’t make, but I think you definitely should!

Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground at the Derngate, Northampton, 27th May 2016

Screaming Blue MurderAnother Friday night at the Screaming Blue Murder club and they’d gone back to the original seating plan – no side seats so that people could stare into the comic’s ears. But that wasn’t the main topic of conversation before curtain up – we had a “technical problem” which meant that the show started a good half hour late. I know what the “technical problem” was, but I am sworn to secrecy. All I can say about it is: hahahahahaha.

Dan EvansA downside to starting late is that, if you’ve got a rowdy crowd, they’ve got another thirty minutes to get even more tanked up than normal. Such was the predicament facing Dan Evans when he came on to warm us all up. Within seconds of his opening gambit, a chap in the front row started commenting on Dan’s new trainers. (To be fair, they were very nice.) From then on, you could hardly shut him or his mates up. And there was something… slightly threatening about them. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t threatened, oh no sirree. But I sensed others were. So the question is, do you engage with them and let them make themselves look like a fool (can be funny) or do you ignore them? Minimal engagement seemed the best option. Unfortunately, one of our acts went for a more head-to-head alternative. More of that later.

JoJo SmithOur first act was someone that we might have seen before – if so it was before I started blogging – Jo Jo Smith. Ms Smith is one helluva ballsy woman. You know the type. Sex was either the main topic or a subtopic in almost every sentence she spoke, and she was only too keen to share her experience of her post-menopausal dried-up vagina. This was particularly embarrassing for the wholesome Indian family sat in the front row. Only the father roared his head off the whole night. His offspring and his wife sat with their head in the hands wishing the earth to open up. So that Ms Smith didn’t engage with the difficult lads (quite right) she turned her attention to the Indians. Knowing the taboo nature of sex in India, the last thing those youngsters wanted was to have to confess to the nature of their sex lives in front of their parents. Their discomfort was pretty funny though. Ms Smith gave good value and we laughed a lot. She called me a silver fox, so she can’t be all bad.

Dane BaptisteOur second act, and someone we have seen before, very recently, was Dane Baptiste. I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that Monsieur Baptiste (I continue to use his French title) is one of the most incisive and intelligent comics on stage today. Having seen him so recently I thought his act would largely be a repeat of what we’d seen before – but no, there was a lot of new stuff there. I absolutely loved his material about how straight guys need to have a lesbian best friend. And he dealt with the awkward guys extremely well. He has the audience in the palm of his hand and gives the most confident, assertive, but never remotely offensive, delivery. A total star in my book.

Howard ReadOur final act was Howard Read – again someone who is a frequent guest at these Screaming Blue Nights. He is a naturally most gifted comedian and has loads of material about fatherhood – including his famous lullaby, which I think he has sung every time he has been here but it is such a funny piece we’re always happy to hear it again. Unfortunately, he tried to take the difficult guys on and didn’t entirely win, so I felt we lost some valuable laughter time overall. Nevertheless, he did a great job in maybe slightly trying circumstances.

That’s it for summer! No more Screaming Blue Murders until September. Why not get booking now!

Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground at the Derngate, Northampton, 18th October 2013

Screaming Blue MurderUnfortunately we had to miss the last Screaming Blue Murder so this was our first burst of SBM comedy for a month. Our host as usual was the extremely funny Dan Evans, who coped manfully with the lady who wanted him to buy a new suit (it’s true, he has been wearing it for at least five years now) and who scoffed at his regular attempt to flog a few books. Admirably he tried out some new material but it kind of fell by the wayside so he reverted to the tried and tested stuff which certainly helped the newbies warm the place up.

Nathan CatonThe three acts consisted of one new one to us and two we had seen before but a long time ago – before I started blogging this regular comedic feast. First up was Nathan Caton, who we hadn’t seen before, and he is a total breath of fresh air. Original, inventive material combined with a likeable personality and a very subtle way of making his point. He had some brilliant anti-racist scenarios which led us all down the garden path beautifully, like the little old lady who doesn’t like to say “black”; some great “your mum” lines; and new insights into dealing with an upstart younger brother. Frankly, we could have watched him all night long.

Howard ReadOur second act was Howard Read, who we didn’t remember until his act started, and then it all came flooding back and I think it was identical to the one we saw a couple of years ago. He has a very quiet, stylish, respectable persona, which lends itself well to the main thrust of his act, which is how having children has ruined his life. His comic songs are extremely funny, and will certainly make you think again about ways to keep the kids quiet when they should be asleep.

Phil NicholLast up was Phil Nichol, again I was expecting him to be new to us, but when he came on stage I instantly recognised his manic Canadian-based audience interaction from an SBM session a few years ago. He’s loud, out-of-control, constantly surprising, and very funny. I really liked his circle of London accents, and his comedy music is an assault on the senses (in a good way). It felt like his act just went too quickly.

So all in all a very good night as usual, with a very nicely balanced programme. Numbers this season still seem a bit down at the moment, you can’t get better value for your comic pound than coming to this show, so get booking!

Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Derngate, Northampton, 24th June 2011

Kevin DewsburyA new compere this week, who it appears stepped in at the last minute, and that’s Kevin Dewsbury. And he was great! Very likeable, a friendly approach, and lots of great material. We particularly liked his observations on how some people speak foreign words as though they were native to that country – something I’m guilty of – and his musings about what it would be like if foreigners did the same back in the UK. Excellent stuff, and I’d like to see his proper act, rather than just compering.

Noel JamesThe rest of the comics were slightly disappointing on just one level – and that is that we have seen them all at Screaming Blue Murder before. The first comic was Noel James, and of the three he was the one who I think had changed his material more than the others. He was very quick hitting and funny, but unfortunately quite a small audience didn’t somehow take to him. He didn’t seem comfortable with the overall lack of laughter and got a bit anxious. We liked him though.

Mary BourkeSecond was Mary Bourke, whose act was most similar to last time, but is so incredibly funny that she was still the best of the night. Her lines about what her parents’ voicemail messages might be like were really funny, and generally she is very dry and self-deprecating. She does a Sudoku during the laughs, which is a nice trick.

Howard ReadLast was Howard Read, one of the very first comics we saw here, and his act is very clever but also very parent-centric. He has a great lullaby song about how scary life is, which is really funny, but his whole act is about coping with young kids, and as I’m not a parent, it slightly missed the mark for me.

Next fortnight is the last one of the SBMs for a while I think, and we’re otherwise engaged that evening anyway. However, there’s plenty more comedy on the horizon!