Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground at the Derngate, Northampton, 21st April 2017

Screaming Blue MurderIt’s been a few weeks since we last went to a Screaming Blue Murder, and when I finally snuck my way through the crowds into the Underground my preferred seat(s) had already been taken. Slightly emboldened by the fact that I knew regular host Dan Evans wouldn’t pick on me, I ventured one row closer to the stage. And what happens? “Ladies and gentlemen, meet your host and compere for this evening, Windsor!” Windsor. Not Dan. We’ve seen Windsor before, he’s brilliant. I knew precisely what was in store.

WindsorLess than 30 seconds into his material he’d ascertained my name and assured me that we’d be working a lot together during the course of the evening. He wasn’t wrong. By the time we’d finished he made me confess our favourite sexual position and had me demonstrate to two other guys the correct amount of pressure to apply to a clitoris. He’s a fantastic host, because, despite all that, he really puts the audience at ease – he was excellent in his interaction with the girls from a certain hotel in West Haddon – and, even if he picks on you, he’s never cruel and I enjoyed the opportunity for a little friendly sparring!

Luke BensonWe’d seen all the three comics before but that didn’t matter because they were all on top form and fresh as daisies. First up was Luke Benson, the gentle, genial Geordie giant, all 6ft 7in of him. As you might expect, he gets a lot of great material from his height; his girlfriend goes up on him, for example. He forms a great connection with the audience, reacts inventively to anything that happens during his set, and he’s absolutely right about how there are some things you just can’t measure in millimetres. He went down really well.

Juliet MeyersOur second act was Juliet Meyers, who I remember always likes to use the C word within her first few exchanges – and once again she didn’t disappoint. She had a lot of new material since the last time we saw her, which was great, including how to cope with a needy dog, and the problems that women face going to the GP. I think she really succeeds when there are a substantial number of women in the audience, as there were last Friday – and she really capitalised on that!

Anthony KingOur headline act was Anthony King, brilliant interpreter of psychopathic crime to music, which is way funnier than it sounds. You wouldn’t be at all surprised to discover he is the inspiration for all the criminals on Midsomer Murders. Sometimes he just can’t quite maintain the straight face which makes it even better. I still feel sorry for the centipede. 100% hilarious.

A really superb night’s comedy, with everyone giving their best – and also, if I may say so myself, we were a cracking audience. Windsor said at the end that the next one will be in May… but one look in my ticket drawer shows that it’s on again next week. So why not come?!

Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground at the Derngate, Northampton, 12th September 2014

Screaming Blue MurderHurrah! Welcome back Screaming Blue Murder season! We’ve missed you. Where else can you get three incredible acts, two wonderful intervals, and a jolly jackanapes of a host all for £11.50 (provided you’re a friend of the Royal & Derngate, which of course you should be anyway). Our host was the inimitable Mr Dan Evans, who has an unbeatable ability to warm us up with anything between some gentle teasing and outrageous insults. He still seems a little sore at my comments (somewhat historical now) about reusing old jokes, but he does come back each week with fresh material, which I for one definitely appreciate and he’s always a joy to watch.

Dan EvansWe normally like to sit close-ish to the stage, but not so close that you’re in danger of being picked on by one of the comics. Four rows back, on the central aisle, is just perfect. However, since Mrs Chrisparkle and I went to Edinburgh this summer and ended up at the front in many comic shows and revues, being an unwitting part of the act now holds little fear for us. Paul Ricketts called me a “silver fox” (ready for a care home); Paul Savage had me standing in front of the crowd reciting love poems from the Song of Solomon to Mrs C in the audience; James Loveridge and the Spank! team probed into our relationship and pet names for each other; we danced with Russell Grant; and we were teased by New Zealand’s Mika. Our former role of being a shy, retiring audience member is now a thing of the past, and sitting at the front has become more attractive a prospect. However, for Screaming Blue Murder we were accompanied by My Lady Duncansby who would sooner sit out on the street in the rain than risk being talked to in the front row; so we took our usual four-rows-back place, in (apparently) safe contentment. However, no one else took the seats in the second and third rows in front of us – so you can guess what happened.

Craig MurrayCue the first act, Craig Murray, new to us, and whose act is very much based on getting into conversations with the crowd. It wasn’t long before he had eyeballed me and I knew the game was up. Not just idle conversation; he wanted my name, how long we’d been married, how and where we met, whether it was love at first sight, etc, etc and etc. Only one thing you can do under those circumstances – jump in feet first and go with it. His responses to what I’ve always thought were our perfectly mundane circumstances of meeting made me sound like a creepy stalker, had Mrs C in the role of Scouse car-parker and Lady D as a bitter and twisted control freak. (Well, she shouldn’t have interrupted). It’s like he knew us intimately. But seriously, his is a really good act, with terrific observations about relationships, confident delivery, great timing and very funny material.

Juliet MeyersNext up was Juliet Meyers, who we’ve seen twice before. The first time we saw her she really nailed her material and she was fantastic. The second time, she seemed to be off the boil somewhat and it never quite hit home. This time, she was again slightly under par but still good; she still likes to assess her audience with an early use of the “c” word – and it seems to me that the more we laugh at that, the more relaxed she becomes, and the more successfully the act as a whole develops. She’s a bright, in your face, likeable, attacking comic and, for the most part, her material went down well.

Mitch BennLast act was Mitch Benn, who we’ve never seen but of whom I’d definitely heard. He’s a man with a guitar and a lot of pluck, which is a useful combination. He did a song about Eurovision to which I bridled instinctively because no comedian is ever going to say anything complimentary about our blessed contest; but in fact it turned into a very clever and funny song about xenophobia, which not only insulted every country throughout Europe but also turned the prejudice on the singer – so that worked well. He had a tender little song that explains how men’s grunts and bodily function noises may be translated into terms of affection; and another that was an homage to the Very Hungry Caterpillar. With very good material, he kept the atmosphere very lively and the audience were loud and enthusiastic in their appreciation.

Quite a good turn-out but we could definitely do better. You must come to the next one!

Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground, Derngate, Northampton, 2nd November 2012

Dan EvansAnother two weeks has come round which means another bunch of comics at the Royal and Derngate on a Friday night. Our compere was the inimitable Dan Evans, and he introduced the usual combination of three great acts and two wonderful intervals for our entertainment. Not such a big crowd this week – odd how the numbers fluctuate; and we were a bit of an odd lot too. Not even Dan’s usual self-deprecating mix of old and new banter really got us warmed up and I felt that, as an audience, we remained pretty unmotivated throughout the entire evening, until perhaps the final act. The sexes were a bit unevenly matched mind you – there seemed a large number of all male groups in the audience; I don’t know if that made a difference to our common funnybone?

Paul B EdwardsAnyway the first act was Paul B Edwards; new to us, full of attack, armed with an electric guitar and not afraid to use it. Some good material, mainly centred on comedy songs; he did a happy version of a Radiohead song I don’t know, so I didn’t quite get the joke, but then he did a minor key version of Captain Sensible’s Happy Talk which was very funny. I liked his song about Unemployed People, even if there wasn’t much to it; and was slightly nonplussed by his final number, Everybody Dies – to the tune of Billy Bragg’s Which Side Are You On, incidentally – which was a bit savage for my taste. Not at all bad though, and he got a pretty good reception.

Juliet MeyersNext was Juliet Meyers, whom we had seen before last year. We remembered her because she did her opening routine about using the C word with a Scottish child present, which we recalled as being absolutely hilarious the first time round but not quite so second time around. Her material was alright but the act never really soared in the way one might have expected. She probably needed more women in the audience to appreciate her insights.

Rhodri RhysThe last act was Rhodri Rhys, another new act to us, and he was definitely the pick of the bunch. Blokey in an identifiable-with way, he had lots of really inventive observations about relationships and life, and he played on his Welshness in a very amusing way, without overkill. He had some great material about black satin sheets that really hit the spot. We liked him a lot – he can come again.

Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Derngate, Northampton, April 1st 2011

Top quality acts for last Friday’s Screaming Blue Murder, I’m delighted to say. Dan was the compere again, and got good mileage out of the audience, who this week featured two large contingents from a Perfume factory and Travis Perkins Builders Merchants.

Luke ToulsonThe first act was Luke Toulson. Likeable, slightly aloof, nicely self-deprecating; he worked fantastically well with the Perfume factory people – especially referring to the boss’s wife as Camilla. I felt as though he held something of himself back – but it didn’t matter because his material was good enough anyway.

Juliet MeyersSecond was Juliet Meyers, who handled jokes about sex and religion with deft ease, and who went down extremely well with the audience. After her second joke, she’d offended the French, the Scots and used the C word. Twice. That’s some trick.

Rob HeeneyLast was Rob Heeney, who was definitely the best of the night for me; very engaging personality, had a wide range of excellent material, didn’t seem to want to leave and I didn’t want him to either. I’d go out of my way to see him again. Great stuff about sex for the over 40s!

No hecklers this week, which actually made a nice change!