Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground at the Derngate, Northampton, 13th April 2018

Screaming Blue MurderYet another packed house for the latest Screaming Blue Murder at the Royal and Derngate, with host Dan Evans on tip-top form again as he brought out the best of us rabble in the audience. Amongst the paying guests whose intimate back-stories he delved into were the assistant psychologist from St Crispin’s whose dementia tests he passed with flying colours; Dan Evanstwo rival soil experts in a relationship; and some noisy crisp eaters seated behind us. When one of the audience confessed to coming from Wellingborough, someone at the back shouted “it’s a sh*thole”, to which Dan observed that the mayor was in.

Diane SpencerWe’d seen all three of the acts before but that did not diminish from the fun of the night – because this was a truly top class night of comedy. First up was Diane Spencer, whom we last saw at the Leicester Comedy Festival in February, but who has also graced us with her presence at Screaming Blues in 2011 and 2015. Ms Spencer has a brilliantly funny stage presence – a delightful mixture of posh and obscene which can really take you by surprise when you’re not expecting it. Amongst her memorable moments on Friday night were re-enacting a rather squeaky, unlubricated pole dance and its unfortunate physical repercussions, what happens when you try to get “Russian slim” and the diplomacy required to rename stepchildren. She was hilarious as always, but what really impressed us was the fact that this was all completely different material from her Leicester appearance. She just oozes natural funniness. A fantastic start to the evening.

Andrew WattsNext up, and in a change from the advertised programme, we had Andrew Watts, a wonderfully dry gentleman who specialises in unladdish behaviour and cricketing analogies but is deceptively streetwise at the same time. We’d seen him here twice before, and he gave us his regular material and indeed memorable punchlines – a couple of which I use myself whenever out clothes shopping with Mrs Chrisparkle – you’ll know the ones if you’ve seen his act. He pitched his material absolutely spot on, and I loved the necrophilia sequence (no, honestly) and the fielding positions set up for the medical team delivering his wife’s baby. He also has this brilliant idea of being the perfect partner for a woman looking for a mediocre night of lovemaking; he’s there to step up to the mark. It may be time for Mr Watts to gather a few more ideas together to enhance his act but, there’s no question about it, he was absolutely hilarious and everyone loved it.

Jonny AwsumFor our final act, we welcomed the return of Jonny Awsum, who just seems to get more awesome every time we see him. Fresh from his appearance on Britain’s Got Talent last year, he attacks the stage with such winning gusto, getting everyone to join in his comedy songs right from the very beginning. He has some fantastic musical parodies; his Take That’s Back for Good is just brilliant, and his Sexy Noises cocks a knowing snoop at the Osmonds’ Crazy Horses. His enthusiasm is such that you cannot help but throw yourself into it. We were howling with laughter. A perfect way to end the night.

That was a fantastic Screaming Blue Murder – and there’s another one coming in two weeks’ time! Dan won’t be hosting this one, so I wonder who we’ll get to accompany us for the night. A show with an already built-in added surprise; you should come!

Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground at the Derngate, Northampton, 18th March 2016

Screaming Blue MurderWe’ve been a bit on-off with our Screaming Blue attendances this season, as other juicy sounding shows had been up for sale before the Screaming Blue dates were announced. But at least we were free for this one. Unfortunately, our regular host Dan obviously wasn’t, and we were treated to a replacement host for the night in the shape of Mr James Sherwood, whom we’d seen once before and enjoyed his act.

James SherwoodIt’s the task of the compere to get us punters nicely warmed up for the first act. Unfortunately, no matter which tack Mr Sherwood took, it ended up as a dead end. We weren’t particularly responsive as a group, and his questioning line of “who’s had a nice day” just didn’t elicit the right kind of engagement. Things took a turn hugely for the better between the first and second acts though, when he reverted to his usual act and simply sat at the keyboard and played funny songs from a grammatically pedantic point of view. That was great. He also attempted some political humour, but we didn’t bite – we don’t normally do political humour here in Northampton. That said, simply mentioning the words “Michael Gove” isn’t really political humour.

Caroline MabeySo, on to our acts proper. First up, and new to us, was Caroline Mabey. She was at a disadvantage because at that stage we weren’t properly warmed up, but she seemed bright and breezy enough. Somehow, somewhere into the act we all realised that it wasn’t quite working, but Caroline kept on with gritty determination to get through it as best she could. I think the problem was that she adopts an “I’m mad, me!” type of persona but I don’t think that’s really who she is, so it comes over as rather forced instead of natural. Her voice and mannerisms are those of the bastard love child of Mel Giedroyc and Frankie Howerd, and I wouldn’t see that relationship ever getting off the ground. It was all a bit painful but we all got through it in the end.

Peter BrushSecond act, and also new to us, was Peter Brush. A complete opposite to Caroline in many respects, because he too adopted a persona – that of a nerdy fish out of water – but you completely believed that that’s exactly how he is in real life. He paced his act beautifully, mined each moment for its full laughter quotient and above all had some marvellous material. With a surname like that, he must have been called “Daft-as-a” at school.

Jonny AwsumFinal act, and someone we had seen once before, was Jonny Awsum. He was very good then but this time he completely smashed it, as common parlance would have it. He just comes out on stage and the mere sight of him makes you happy. His mix of comedy and music works brilliantly, and you are powerless to resist joining in and making silly noises to accompany his songs. It would be too much to hope that he really does rejoice in the surname “Awsum”.

What started a little shakily ended up being fantastic. Enormous fun – and still a few more gigs to go this Spring!

Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground at the Derngate, Northampton, 2nd May 2014

Kevin DewsburyAnother very packed audience to see the penultimate Screaming Blue Murder comedy night for this season. Regular host Dan Evans was absent this time, so we were able to welcome Cheshire’s very own Kevin Dewsbury, whom we have seen a couple of times hosting here before and also his excellent Out Now show in Leicester earlier this year. Kevin has an instantly likeable personality the moment he gets on stage and you know you’re in safe hands. He quickly achieves a very good rapport with the crowd, and amongst his material he did his wonderful routine about speaking foreign words as though you are a native speaker of that foreign language – something I’ve been guilty of ever since Pamela Stephenson as Angela Rippon talked of Mr Mooogaaaabay’s gayreeellllaaas. I also love his putting-foot-in-it St Patrick’s Day routine.

Paul PirieFirst act up was Paul Pirie, who we have seen before and, frankly, on that occasion I didn’t enjoy his routine at all. He was crude without being funny, and very noisy – to the extent that his voice jarred on the microphone. This time he was massively better. His voice does still have a timbre to it that grates my eardrum, but his material, which mainly centres on his endlessly difficult relationship with his wife really hit my funnybone. I particularly liked his stuff about getting home drunk – not that I have any experience of that of course. Very good indeed – I’d just like him to deliver it all just a bit more quietly that’s all!

Fern BradySecond, and in a change to our advertised programme, we had Fern Brady, who was new to us. She had a nice sense of the ridiculous, with her excellent routine about foxes, but her generally downbeat persona slightly sapped the energy left over by Paul Pirie. Nevertheless, she had good material, and went down well with the audience.

Jonny AwsumHeadlining was Jonny Awsum, with a surname like that he just has to be funny, no? He looks like a cross between Neil Morrissey and a friend of ours (who you won’t know, sorry) and he definitely spices things up with great attack and a very open, happy nature. He’s a man with a guitar and not afraid to use it, and we really enjoyed the way he involved the audience with his singing along – including making orgasmic noises to rhythm – including his very funny parody of Take That’s Back for Good. It was a very good way to finish off the evening and I am sure he was everyone’s favourite act of the night.

Only one more Screaming Blue to go now before the long, sad summer months!