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?

The Edinburgh Fringe One-Weeker 2015 – Card Ninja

Card NinjaTime for another mix of comedy and magic with Javier Jarquin’s Card Ninja show. Let’s read the blurb: “Back due to popular demand, multi award-winning comedian Javier Jarquin returns to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with Card Ninja, a riotous and dazzling display of comedy and card stunts. Following his journey from mild mannered card player to silent assassin using playing cards as weapons, Card Ninja is a one-man comedy show with upbeat humour and smooth audience interaction for anyone who’s ever wanted to be a little bit Ninja.”

Javier JarquinMrs Chrisparkle and I saw Mr Jarquin at one of our Screaming Blue Murder nights in Northampton and he was great entertainment – and, loving a bit of magic as I do, I vowed that we would try to see him again when he had his magician’s hat on. So this production, 15:45 at Sin (great name) on Cowgate, is the perfect opportunity. Hopefully after three quite meaty plays we’ll be ready for some sleight of hand hilarity. It’s not a long show, so check back around 4.30 to see if his magic is as good as his stand-up! The next preview blog will also be available to read too.

Update:

Amazing skill and loads of turtle power! Fast and funny and he’s lethal with those cards. Great fun for all the family. Ninja! 

Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground at the Derngate, Northampton, 16th May 2014

Martin CoyoteIt’s always sad when we reach the final Screaming Blue Murder of the season, but at least the people of Northampton gave it a good send-off with another packed house last Friday night. Our MC for this show was Martin Coyote, who we’ve seen before doing his usual act but not as compere. He was superb – lightly keeping everyone well behaved for the acts but also sharing some stonking good material with us. He’s got a great stage persona – wry and rather cynical but still upbeat and positive. He kept the show going superbly and had the majority of the best lines of the night.

Javier JarquinOur first act was new to us, Javier Jarquin. He’s an interesting blend of Chinese and Latino all wrapped up in a Kiwi accent. He comes over as very likeable, with some really excellent material, including how a newcomer to a country can be confused by the shop names, the (highly significant) differences between “it” and “that”, how furnishing a bed changes when you get a girlfriend, and how a pavlova can pale into insignificance when talking to a Croatian. He had both Mrs Chrisparkle and me in hysterics when he equated asking his girlfriend how her day was to accidentally hitting “Print All” on the computer. Great delivery, and really funny. He’s a magician too – would be good to see him do some magic another time!

Helen ArneyOur second act was Helen Arney, also new to us, and, really unfortunately, it all went a bit Pete Tong. Her act is based on her persona of being a science nerd, and doing comedy songs that reflect that. To be honest, I didn’t think she looked or acted particularly nerdy so that persona didn’t convince me. She seemed nervous and somewhat shouty, and rushed the early parts of the act a bit, and I think got put off when the laughs didn’t come. She then forgot her lines in her first comedy song, lost even more confidence, and at that point we lost confidence in her. Her final song, about having a lover in a coma, was extremely dark and savage and would probably have worked if we’d kept faith in her act – but I’m afraid we hadn’t, so it didn’t. Oh well, you can’t win them all.

Andrew BirdLast act was someone we had seen before, and remembered as being brilliant, local lad Andrew Bird. He was runner-up in the 2012 Chrisparkle Awards for best Screaming Blue Stand-up, beaten only by the fantastic Mr Paul Sinha. Andrew Bird’s attack and confidence are just astounding, because they are so perfectly pitched. He has just the right level of enthusiasm for you to fully engage in the pictures of domestic or parental harmony he is painting, with wonderful observations that capture true comedy moments. We loved his material about marketing a lavender scented child’s bath lotion, to calm bath time for a two-year-old into a chilled experience – and the contrast with the bottle of Matey that we all had when we were kids that bleached everything in sight. So much brilliant material, and the audience absolutely loved him.

And that is indeed it, until the next season starts again on 12th September. Get it in your diary now!