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, Derngate, Northampton, 14th October 2011

We’ve had to miss a couple of Screaming Blue Murders recently so it was good to get back into the comedy club groove last Friday. Dan Evans was compering, and it’s been the first time we’ve seen him for a few months. A new experience: he encountered a little difficulty with the audience for repeating the same material he’s used here before. He started a joke and a member of the audience shouted out the punchline. The ironic thing was, we’d not heard the joke before, whereas earlier he had told his Travelodge joke that we’ve heard at least a dozen times. Dan you are very funny comedian and a great host, but we do need a bit more new material!!

Raymond and Mr Timkins RevueFirst act was the Raymond and Mr Timpkins Revue. I think I can safely say this is an act like no other. 95% mime – or maybe that should be 95% larking about – these two guys act out the lyrics from about a hundred or so cut and pasted pop songs in one long musical stream; mainly with the aid of big aide-memoir type cards. Some of it is incredibly inventive; some of it is heavily telegraphed; some of it is a bit gross; for us, all of it was belly-laugh funny. You’ll either get this and love it, or you won’t and hate it. By far the majority loved it. With some cleaner material you could see this going down a storm at the Royal Variety Performance. Excellent!

Jen Bruster Next we had Jen Brister. She had a great rapport with the audience and some excellent material about being a lesbian with a Catholic Spanish mother. She got good humour out of taking the rise out of posh locations and also does some great Australian observations. Extremely good.

Bennett Arron Headline act was Bennett Arron. His rather quiet and slightly dour Welsh persona made a nice contrast with the maniacal Raymond and Mr Timpkins and the brightly confident Jen Brister. He had some very good observations and funny scenarios and one of the best put-down lines I’ve heard: “I’m always happy to accept a heckle from a pretty girl – so Shush!” But about five minutes before the end he lost it and couldn’t think how to end the act – which kind of killed the energy. He did come up with something but it felt like a detached coda. The audience were kind however so no harm done to the jolly spirit of the evening. Three very good acts, who you’d be very happy to see again.