Review – Comedy Crate at the Charles Bradlaugh, Northampton, 12th January 2023

CC Jan 23First comedy gig of the year and a sell out night at the Bradlaugh for what turned out to be an excellent night of laughter courtesy of the Comedy Crate. Our MC for the evening was Stephen Carlin, who nicely uses his slightly dour Scottish persona to good advantage, and is excellent at riffing off the crowd with whatever fascinating nuggets they reveal. There was plenty of mileage to be gained from Darren, the audience’s self-appointed Witchfinder General, Chris, Stephen Carlinwho wouldn’t take his coat off, and the wrongly-accused-of-being-a-fascist, Holly. He had some great material about climate change and drugtaking, and took great control of the evening.

Our first act, and new to us, was Jacob Hawley, a likeable London lad with an attacking, slightly in-your-face style, living with the joy of having a lockdown baby because creating her was the only thing he and his partner could do in Jacob Hawley2020. The crowd gave him lots to work with, including having some better lines than himself, which he was happy to acknowledge! He has a great sequence about being asked to do a most unconventional gig at a Drive-In Movie, and does a brilliant impersonation of a lapdog. Very entertaining – he will be returning to the Bradlaugh for a longer gig in April.

Next up was Kate Martin, whom we had relatively recently seen at the same venue as she was a contestant Kate Martin(if that’s the right word) in the Northampton heat of The British Comedian of the Year. She is so sure-footed on stage, and you sense that nothing could faze her. As before, the majority of her material is based on either her height or her sexuality, and on both counts she’s not backward in coming forward. Nicely self-deprecating, which helps her to set up a brilliant rapport with the audience, and, despite having heard some of the material only a few months ago, we loved every minute.

Nathan CatonOur headline act, and someone we’ve enjoyed seeing a few times, was Nathan Caton. He opened with an inspired callback to one of Stephen Carlin’s lines, which set us up for a great set. Recently married, he had some brilliant material about the costs of a wedding, faux-resentment about his mother re-marrying, and I loved his observations about now living in a middle-class area and wearing middle-class clothes. He is so quick-witted, and he nails every comic observation so that they hit home. All killers and no fillers, as someone once said. A great way to end the night.

There’s another gig at the Bradlaugh on February 9th – you should come!

Review – The Comedy Crate present The British Comedian Of The Year, Northampton Heat, Charles Bradlaugh, Northampton, 27th September 2022

BCOTYSo here’s something a bit different. At the Charles Bradlaugh last night, the Comedy Crate hosted the Northampton heat (who knew there was one?) of the British Comedian of the Year competition. Ultimate prize for the winning comic – £10,001. I guess that last pound is put in there because, like the subject matter, it’s a bit funny. Compered by Ben Briggs, nine comedians took to the stage with a ten to fifteen minutes set to win the hearts, minds and votes of the audience. Masai GrahamYes, after they had all performed we had an app through which to select our favourite two comedians. And at the end, Ben announced the two acts that would go through to the next round. Our third place choice goes forward to some kind of repechage/punch-up behind the bikesheds to see if they can also squeeze through.

Danny ClivesI can’t recall ever attending a comedy night like it. Hugely entertaining, and of course, by its very nature, full of variety. With such a short set, it’s unlikely (although not impossible) that any one performer would outstay their welcome. But that’s not a bad way of assessing which acts to vote for. Harvey HawkinsYou’ll definitely favour those, when they’d finished, you thought damn! I want more of this person! rather than those who you thought to yourself thank goodness that’s over. It’s also difficult to make a choice when you’ve seen some of the acts recently and already know their material, and then compare them with acts whom you’ve never seen before so their whole routine is as fresh as a daisy. But that’s a delicate problem for you to work out in the privacy of your own app moment.

Kirsty MunroThe structure of the night was to have three acts followed by a break, another three and a break, then the final three and a break during which you voted. A little like the Eurovision Song Contest, your appearance in the running order is oh-so-important. Jay HandleyYou don’t want to be first, you definitely don’t want to be second, you probably don’t want to be last. Halfway to two-thirds of the way through works best.

Jack GleadowAct 1 was Masai Graham, twice winner of the Edinburgh joke of the year award. He told them to us again, and yes, they’re pretty good jokes. I admire the way he can get four or five laughs out of four or five punchlines all from the same set-up. He’s a clever chap. Act 2 was Danny Clives, who announced he was unprepared for the contest, and I couldn’t work out if he was genuinely unprepared or acting unprepared. Either way, he’s got great material, nicely underdelivered. Act 3 was Harvey Hawkins, who delivered his excellent material with confidence, precision and a beautiful structure, which I always admire in a comedy set.

Kate MartinAct 4 was last minute replacement Kirsty Munro, who was very full-on with her sex-based material; tremendously confident but I think I would have died from embarrassment if she’d asked me some of the questions that she asked those in the front row. Act 5 was Jay Handley, who trades very successfully on his Jesus-lookalike status, but whose material goes much further than that and was extremely funny. Act 6 was Jack Gleadow, whose act I have seen a few times recently and includes some brilliant ideas, like the Popcorn Tindr and the differences between shopping at Primark and at Argos.

David StanierAct 7 was Kate Martin; her material centres on her height and sexuality, is extremely inventive on stage and we didn’t want her to stop. Act 8 was David Stanier, whose humour is of a very different style; he felt to me more like a children’s entertainer, with a level of surrealism into which I couldn’t really tap. Act 9 was Trevor Bickles, a London taxi driver and you can tell that from the start. Again hugely confident, great delivery and very recognisable material in that you can identify with the situations he creates for us. A good laugh indeed.

Trevor BicklesAfter quite a lot of deliberation, both Mrs Chrisparkle and I voted for the same two – and as this isn’t a secret ballot, I can tell you our choices were Kate Martin and Jay Handley. There was one other act whom we both wanted to vote for but who included one joke that we both thought was beyond the pail for the occasion, no names no pack drill. In the end, when the votes were tallied and the executive committee had run the numbers through a double checking verification procedure (I jest) the audience’s choice to go through to the next round were Jay Handley and Jack Gleadow, with Kate Martin in that perilous third place.

A fantastic night of comedy which we both really enjoyed. Hopefully this can become an annual feature!