Review – Comedy Crate & Atic Zoom Online Comedy Gig – 14th February 2021

Comedy CrateWhat better way to spend a lockdown Valentine’s night than with an online comedy gig – well, no one’s going out, are they? The second of this month’s four free gigs courtesy of Northampton’s Comedy Crate and Banbury’s Rock the Atic was hosted once again by Ryan MoldRyan Mold, a chirpy presence who keeps everything going at a cracking pace; he did some great nostalgic material about the village video rental guy – pure VHS, nothing more up to date – who operated out of the boot of his car. I appreciated it – even if I seemed to be the only audience member to recall that unique trade model. It’s true – he never worried about the film censor’s classification when raking in the pound coins from the back of his car.

Mike CoxAnyway, our first act of the night was Mike Cox, new to me; a strong, confident personality and delivery, backed up with some fun material about how your priorities change during lockdown, especially regarding looking after the kids. I liked his attack, and there was a lot there for everyone to identify with – a very good start.

Prince AbdiNext came Prince Abdi – his is a name that I’ve seen many times but never actually seen him! You can tell straight away that he is a naturally funny guy with a larger than life presence and warm personality. He had some nice material about the difficulties with performing zoom gigs – and he revealed them too, as he had a tendency to be distracted by odd sounds and movements! He touched on issues involving his Brexit-voting dad, and it was a shame that there wasn’t more time to develop his thoughts. I’d definitely like to see him again.

Jack BarryOur third act was Jack Barry, whom we’d seen before doing an Edinburgh try-out at the Comedy Crate in 2017. He instantly sets up a terrific rapport which is a very difficult thing to do online! And he had some great material about working with a masked audience, how FOMO has no place in lockdown, the trials of learning Spanish and the wisdom of responsible drug dealers. He packed a lot into his short set and it worked really well – a very funny ten minutes!

Kelly ConveyNext was Kelly Convey, whom we saw last year at one of the Comedy Crate’s gigs in the garden of the Black Prince in Northampton. Another comic who connects surprisingly easily via a zoom thumbnail, she lost no time in giving us some great material about how not to treat the military presence at your local Covid test centre, the trials and tribulations of a zoom hen do and how Conspiracy Theories in the Plague Year are nothing new. Her winning personality enables her to breeze through her set as if she were live on a stage. Extremely funny and very enjoyable!

paul-mccaffreyOur headline act – can you have Headline Acts on a zoom call? Can’t see why not – was Paul McCaffrey, whom we last saw in one of those Johnny Vegas comedy extravaganzas during the 2017 Leicester Comedy Festival. This time, as then, he was on ace form, with fantastic comedy observations ranging from lockdown overdrinking, through TV repeats, to a wonderful exploration of how you can read a script wrong (he was miscast as the Witchfinder General in a production of Vinegar Tom.) Very likeable, a great presence and a terrific way to end the show.

I’ve already booked for next week – so should you! Free tickets available here.

Review – The Comedy Crate Comedy Night in the Garden of the Black Prince Pub, Northampton, 6th August 2020

Comedy CrateNot often I get the chance to start a piece of writing with the word “Review” nowadays, but, as we all know, gentle reader, these are strange times indeed. However, with commendable innovation and forward thinking, those clever chaps at The Comedy Crate set up a comedy night in the garden of the Black Prince last night, bringing live laughter back to the people and sticking two fingers up at the virus.

 

To be honest, we were a little nervous of how the whole thing would work. It was the first time Mrs Chrisparkle or I had been to a pub since early March, although our guests, Lord and Lady Prosecco, are already old-handers at the art of post-Covid public libation. The Black Prince has a big garden, almost completely covered by an extensive set of joined up marquees, with bench tables nicely socially distanced, and I must say it all felt pretty safe. One price for a table – £40 – and for that you could have up to six people sitting there. Your temperature was taken on arrival, with a kind of stun-gun affair, quick and effective, and fortunately we all passed with flying colours.

 

From where we sat, sightlines to where the comics performed were very good, and the sound system was excellent; everyone’s voices were just at the right volume and clarity. Plus the Black Prince has a good range of drinks – M’Lord and I knocked back the IPAs, M’lady had the Sauvignon Blanc and Mrs C enjoyed a few delicious gluten-free Wainwright beers (which are top quality in the world of gf beer!) All this and comedy too.

 

Rich WilsonWe hadn’t encountered most of the performers before. MC for the night was Rich Wilson, a lively, ebullient chap who started off with all guns blazing and never let up the energy all night. Of course, everyone came to this gig from a position of not having been involved in comedy for several months – both audience and comics alike. As a result, there was a big emphasis on Lockdown Survival as comedy material – but that works well, as it’s something we’ve all experienced and can all recognise. Mr W had lots of great observations about life during and after lockdown, but also threw in a few other gems, like his experience at working as a straight man in a gay sauna, for example. He has a terrific rapport with the audience, and was great fun all round.

 

Nathan CatonOur first act, and the only one we’d seen before, was the excellent Nathan Caton. More wry observations on Covid survival, including the pressures of having your girlfriend move in with you just before lockdown, which led to a very funny poem about dealing with said situation. Mr C makes some brilliant observations about latent racism and social distancing, and his winning personality makes his set just fly by. Seemingly effortless, but I bet it’s not.

 

Kelly ConveyNext came Kelly Convey, who was on cracking form, with her stories about being working class and therefore having relatives living in Spain, meeting the man of her dreams, her encounter with a famous sex pest and a brilliant take down of TV’s Take Me Out. She has a terrific delivery, fantastic timing with some killer punchlines and all-round excellent material. We loved her and want to see her again.

 

Garrett MillerickOur headline act was Garrett Millerick, who also came on stage frothing with energy and attack and instantly achieved a terrific rapport with us all. I absolutely loved his material about Gordon Ramsey – which was 100% spot-on – and he cleverly turns a sequence about imitating a native Mandarin speaker, which, if wrongly pitched, could be dicing with racism, into a really funny observation about the nature of language and accents. Very quick-witted and full of fun, his act was a suitable culmination to an incredibly enjoyable night, all of us celebrating having made it this far.

 

Congratulations to the Comedy Crate for setting this up – it might have been a disaster, but it was indeed a triumph, and a full house too. The future of live comedy for the foreseeable future? I think so!