The Edinburgh Fringe Full Monty (nearly) – Day 8, 12th August 2022

What’s on the list of shows for today? I’ll tell you!

Here’s the schedule for 12th August:

10.55 – An Audience with Stuart Bagcliffe, Zoo Playground. From the Edinburgh Fringe website:

Audience with Stuart Bagcliffe“’Hilarious’, ‘mesmerising’ and ‘outstanding’ **** ( This comedic one-man show introduces Stuart Bagcliffe, who is about to perform his autobiographical play to an audience for the first time. Ill-prepared and lacking experience, Stuart is naturally a bundle of nerves. Join him as he attempts to make it through the play in one piece, contending with his overbearing mother watching from the wings and a sound technician who’s half asleep, as well as his own demons and insecurities. What could possibly go wrong?”

Triptych Theatre are the group behind this production, which I think sounds like a lot of fun, and if done convincingly, should be great!

UPDATE: The story is kept secret in the promotional material and it’s important it stays that way. Suffice to say there are many twists to Stuart’s tale. But it’s blisteringly well told and there’s a fantastic performance by Michael Parker as Stuart. Only a tiny venue, so book early! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

13.35 – The MP, Aunty Mandy and Me Pleasance Dome.

MP Aunty Mandy and Me“A bittersweet tale of political campaigns, sexual consent and steam trains. Dom wants to be an #InstaGay and #Influencer but it’s hard in a small northern village five miles from the nearest gay. One day, a chance meeting with his MP turns his life upside down. Written by Rob Ward (Gypsy Queen, Away From Home, ***** (”

We always catch Rob Ward at the Fringe because he always comes up with intriguing and powerful plays and I’m sure this will be no different. Looking forward to it!

UPDATE: Rob Ward gives a fine performance as always but the play isn’t quite as gripping as the others we’ve seen him in. The acid trip scenes last too long and our attention wandered at times. A slice of difficult life, but I didn’t feel it shed that much light on a potentially abusive situation. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

16.30 – Iain Dale: All Talk with Keir Starmer MP, Pleasance @ EICC.

Keir Starmer“Award-winning LBC radio presenter brings his acclaimed, incisive insight on current affairs back to the Fringe with these in-depth interviews. Today’s guest is Sir Keir Starmer MP, the leader of the Labour party and former Director of Public Prosecutions, who will be interviewed by Iain and his For The Many co-host Jacqui Smith. ‘The indefatigable Iain Dale always cuts to the nub of politics’ (Adam Boulton). ‘There are very few commentators and broadcasters with an instinctive feel for real politics. Iain Dale does, which makes him endlessly listenable-to and peerless’ (Andrew Marr).

If we’re going for some of these political talks, we might as well see the big names! It’ll be interesting to see if Keir Starmer has that necessary bite to take Labour to government.

UPDATE: Iain Dale and Jacqui Smith both grilled Keir Starmer and I must say I was very impressed with the Labour Leader, much more than I expected to be. You can see he’s a thoughtful, intelligent man, he listens in full to the question then gives a most considered answer to it. I don’t think he suits the world of quick off the cuff comments; he’s much more the measured, detailed, considered kind of politician. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

19.40 – Rachel Parris: All Change Please, Underbelly George Square.

Rachel Parris“BAFTA-nominated comedian, Rachel Parris, is back with a brand-new show about big life changes. Join viral sensation and star of BBC’s The Mash Report as she performs stand-up and songs about sudden love, the highs and lows of relationships, family, weddings, kids, going viral, going mental, and the baffling state of play in society right now. ‘Venomously witty’ (Evening Standard). ‘A natural charm and keen eye for observation’ ( ‘This is classy, clever comedy – uproarious’ (Scotsman).”

Never seen Rachel Parris doing proper stand-up before, but I always enjoy her TV appearances, so I’m hoping for a very good show!

UPDATE: An interesting mix of comedy songs and stand up from Rachel Parris which was always enjoyable and entertaining, but never really soared or entered the realms of bold, incisive comedy. Fun, yes, but rather safe and predictable. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

21.45 – Your Dad’s Mum: Tonight at the Social Club Underbelly, Bristo Square.

Your Dad's Mum“Explosive, gag-packed comedy from Leicester Comedy Festival Award nominees returning to the Fringe following their acclaimed 2021 run. Join your hosts – jaded northern entertainer Pat Bashford and his over-woke niece Cheri-Anne for a raucously daft, fast-paced hour, featuring games, adequate prizes, musical interludes and late-night fun. Starring Chortle Award winner Bexie Archer and Fringe-favourite Kevin Dewsbury (Kev’s Komedy Kitchen). ‘Archer has funny bones’ ( ‘Dewsbury’s delivery is spot on… delightfully funny’ ( ‘This show packs in the punchlines, the duo can certainly craft a good gag’ (Skinny).”

Knowing what a knockout Kev’s Komedy Kitchen could be, I can’t wait to finally see Kevein Dewsbury’s Your Dad’s Mum show. It’s had great reviews and I reckon it will be blistering!

UPDATE: Your Dad’s Mum is a nightmarish comic creation; a social night out, with a grim compère stuck in the 70s and a woeful but feminist assistant who together take us through some deliciously lamentable games and quizzes. And it’s all absolutely brilliant! Once you get the joke – that he’s deliberately awful and she’s trying to do the best she can to make up for it – it works a treat. As the catastrophes pile up, the audience creases up! The audience hurled themselves into the fun and played along with everything that Pat and Cherrie-Ann threw at them. Just don’t ask her to do her Christmas Tree routine. Loved it! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Edinburgh Fringe One-Weeker 2017 – Kev’s Komedy Klub, 26th August 2017

Kevs Komedy KlubFor our last evening in Edinburgh we’ve got four shows of comedy in its various fringey hues. First up is Kev’s Komedy Klub at The Basement @ Laughing Horse @ The Newsroom at 18:15 on Saturday 26th. Here’s the blurb: “Stand-up comedy from the stars and creators of the underground-award winning Festival Fringe hit Kev’s Komedy Kitchen. Each show will feature a special guest headline act. ‘Slickness and sheer talent’ (Time Out). ‘Lively and energetic, instantly likeable’ ( ‘An excellent comedian, one of the most underrated comics on the circuit’ (Toby Foster, BBC Sheffield and star of Phoenix Nights). ‘A real treat of understated deadpan humour’ (ThreeWeeks). ‘Engaging and funny’ ( ‘Bonafide Funny’ (”

Kev's Komedy KitchenKevin Dewsbury is one of my favourite comics whom we only saw a couple of days ago in his Komedy Kitchen and here he is again masterminding an hour of comedy with guests. I’m thinking Will Hutchby will be involved too, but I’m not sure who else. Check back around 7.30 pm to see who else was there and how much we laughed. By then the next preview blog should be available to read too.

A classic host-and-guest show with Kevin Dewsbury in charge and keeping it lively with some great material – including wrestling holds – and introducing some very funny guests. We had Lee Kyle, who’s spent the last month in a tent, Mark Grimshaw, who reviews trip advisor reviews, and Liam Pickford, with his amazing party trick of telling you some basic facts about your hometown. The hour flew by! 

The Edinburgh Fringe One-Weeker 2017 – Kev’s Komedy Kitchen – The Second Cumin, 24th August 2017

Kev's Komedy KitchenTime for what I am sure will be another comic highlight of the week, it’s the return of Kev’s Komedy Kitchen – The Second Cumin at Just the Cask Room @ Just the Tonic at The Mash House at 15:40 on Thursday 24th. Here’s the blurb: “’A masterpiece of performance and comedy’ ( More culinary television show shenanigans from the hapless but award-winning Kevin Dewsbury and put upon producer Will Hutchby. Can Kevin finally get his career on track and exorcise the demons of the past? It’s just a cooking show after all! Plus we may get to find out what has been going on in the world of unlikely Italian chef Michelli Newelli! ‘An underground hit!’ (”

kevin-dWe saw the original Kev’s Komedy Kitchen twice; once at Edinburgh last year, then again at the Leicester Comedy Festival in February because it was so more-ish. I can’t wait to see what horrendous things will be going on again in Kevin’s Kookery world, and whether Will will keep his temper under control this time. Check back around 5 pm to see how much fun it was. By then the next preview blog should be available to read too.

Another beautifully crafted dollop of Kookery magic from Kev’s kitchen; this year he’s risen again (like a soufflé) after a much needed rehab, I mean retreat, and is flogging his inspirational Kevjuice to anyone who’ll listen to his daft jingle. Will is still trying to hold it together whilst accidentally promoting Kev’s main komedy rivals. A lovely parody of the TV cookery show genre, this one has a delightfully surprise ending that you definitely won’t see coming. Only a few days left to catch this show  – what are you waiting for?! 

Review – Just The Tonic Comedy Club with Johnny Vegas, Leicester Comedy Festival, Hansom Hall, Leicester, 25th February 2017

johnny-vegasFor our final splurge on Comedy Saturday we thought we’d go for broke and see Johnny Vegas fronting a Comedy Club special, with him as the compere and three or four acts all doing their own thing. None of us had ever seen Johnny Vegas live before and didn’t know quite what to expect. I’d seen him on TV of course – guesting on panel shows, being one of the best things about Benidorm, and playing a surprisingly effective self-combustible Krook in the BBC’s Bleak House 12 years ago. I don’t think I was prepared for someone so eloquent, creative, unpredictable and thoroughly naughty as he proved himself to be on Saturday night!

kevin-dHe told us that he’d already done an earlier show – not compering but proper stand-up – which had gone off at a tangent because of one particular audience member, but which hadn’t really gone well because the audience didn’t come with him on his flights of fancy. That must be a really awkward situation; because just ten minutes in the company of Mr Vegas tells you that flights of fancy are the order of the day, and any pre-prepared material is probably there just as a backup if all else fails. He’d barely been on a few seconds when he started picking his way through the front row looking for suitable quarry – and there were two guys. The first guy started to bat back the questions in that semi-confident, taciturn but I can handle this way; and then he caught sight of his mate. 99% of the audience didn’t get a look at this guy because we were all sitting behind him. But he obviously appealed to Mr Vegas’ sense of nurturing the oppressed, because this guy had obviously allowed himself to grow the most appalling, all-over-the-place apology for a beard, so that he looked a disgrace and Mr Vegas was not going to let him get away with it.

guz-khanWhilst this was not Mr Vegas’ only comic tack of the evening, everything did seem to revolve around Useless Beardy Guy. There was no end to the gentle humiliation heading his way during the course of the night, which grew in complexity and status as Mr Vegas ended up encouraging a member of the audience – a rather mouthy lady (perhaps not inappropriately) – to (and I quote) w*nk him off for £500. Others, not all of them with female voices, attempted to undercut this offer, but Mr Vegas wasn’t holding a Dutch Auction. After the next act, the original volunteer had slumped forward in her seat in a paralytic stupor** but Mr Vegas had made an onstage promise that the w*nking would take place. Naturally troubled by this, it culminated in Mr Vegas holding an uncomfortable phone call with his late-night lawyer, where he was concerned that he might now be contractually obliged to cause Beardy Guy to climax in his (Mr Vegas’) hand, in a council-run property (and he admitted sotto voce that he didn’t really want to) and would he need a licence for this? The whole thing was absolutely hilarious and I was shaking with laughter.

paul-mccaffreyIn amongst all that shenanigans Johnny Vegas introduced three special guests, all of whom were on absolutely top form. First up was Kevin Dewsbury, whom we have seen many times before, most recently about four hours earlier as the TV chef-cum-walking disaster in Kev’s Komedy Kitchen. Mr Dewsbury took us through his embarrassing St Patrick’s Day moment and his marvellous routine about enunciating foreign words perfectly – I’m so guilty of that myself. He had a whole load of new material as well, perfectly suiting his matey, blokey persona and he got a great reception from the audience. Our second guest was new to us, Guz Khan, still a teacher until two years ago. He is a real find, with a superbly confident stage presence (I bet his kids paid attention to his lessons) and great material that didn’t shy away from the tough subjects like ISIS and Morning Assembly. He absolutely aced the crowd. Our final act, also new to us, was Paul McCaffrey, with some great observations on the wisdom of the fitness guru who recommends replacing chocolate with raw veg, and, whilst on holiday, eschewing licking shots from a nymphette’s belly button in Ibiza in preference to playing cards on the balcony with the wife (“after all, we went to the pub last night…”)

heres-johnnyBut it really was Mr Vegas’ night. He has such a quick mind and the ability to winkle something humorously ridiculous from the most banal of situations. He’d have you believe he was raising money for some spurious charity, or that he needed to quickly nip backstage to check he hadn’t left a camp stove on whilst leaving Useless Beardy Guy singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star for our amusement. He created a wonderful visual image of applying his backside to the TV screen during This Morning so that it looked like Piers Morgan was rimming him; and he had a battle with his braces, before the third act, causing slowly descending trousers, from which he produced tons of hilarious physical comedy. The next morning all six of us kept on remembering varied elements of his reckless night’s entertainment; it was officially fabulous. As was our entire Leicester Comedy Festival experience, and we’re hoping to make it an annual event, when we all return and throw ourselves at the festival for an entire weekend. Here’s to 2018!

**She said she was a teacher so Mr Vegas wondered if it was the SATs and not the alcohol that had sent her off to sleep.

P. S. I discovered later that Mr Vegas doesn’t really have a late-night lawyer with whom he can discuss such delicate topics – it was Kevin Dewsbury on the other end of the phone. I’m embarrassed to say though that it didn’t occur to me that this was a stunt; if anyone is going to have resort to a late-night Comedy Lawyers 4U contact it would be Johnny Vegas. He must need this kind of advice all the time.

P. P. S. The show started at 8.30pm and was due to finish at 10.30pm. Shortly before midnight you could see the promoter agitatedly standing near the stage trying to get Johnny Vegas’ attention so that he would wrap it all up. I did tell you he was unpredictable.

Review – Kev’s Komedy Kitchen, Leicester Comedy Festival, Hansom Hall, Leicester, 25th February 2017

kkkFor our second show on Comedy Saturday, Mrs Chrisparkle and I took the gang to see Kev’s Komedy Kitchen, a show we’d already seen in Edinburgh last summer, which we both found knock-out funny, and was in fact the recipient of last year’s Chrisparkle Award for Edinburgh Best of the Rest – which is rather a graceless title that I think I need to alter. It appears that this was probably the last ever performance of the show in this format, so any spoilers I reveal in this review, aren’t really.

Kev's Komedy KitchenYou’re greeted by Floor Manager Will who explains that it’s a recording of a TV show and warns us not to wave at the cameras. As if we would. He also advises us to laugh at anything Kev says that’s funny – or thinks is funny; and whilst happily reminiscing over Kev’s successful tours in the past, he reminds us not to mention 2012… as it wasn’t a good year. Naturally, the only person who mentions 2012 as the show progresses, is Will; but there is a limit to which even he can keep up that chirpy positivity when you’re dealing with a bunch of pensioners watching the recording of a show that is pure bumf, and featuring guests with the social graces of Sooty and Sweep but with none of their sense of humour. By the time the show’s started he’s already dissed Kev for attracting nothing like the number of punters as Stephen Bailey had the previous night, and as for that Romesh Ranganathan….

kevin-dI digress (like he did). Will’s introductory speech totally sets the scene for what’s to come. Even before we’ve met Kev we know a) he’s not as funny as he thinks he is, and b) his life and career had a big tumble which he hasn’t come to terms with. You just know that during the course of the next hour we’re going to see this guy start to (apple) crumble and watch his career go down the (hot) pan. If that sounds rather sad – well, it is! But that’s the strength of the show: watching Kev kling to the wreckage as his guest celebrity turns out to be po-faced, patronising and thick as two short fish fingers, as his guest comic gets more laughs than he does, thus building up Kev’s resentment against him, and as his high-flying guest chef lets him down at the last minute to be replaced by Marco Pierre Shite. It is the comedy of cruelty, played straight to emphasise the seriousness behind the laughter, but always with the accent on the comic rather than the cruel – until it descends into a semi-apocalyptic free-for-all at the end.

will-hutchbyRather like when I worked in Contracts Management for the local council, anything that could go wrong in the recording of Kev’s Komedy Kitchen, does go wrong. The pre-prepared meal for them to taste is inedible because Josh the assistant forgot to put the oven on, (or rather, in the case of Saturday’s performance, he says he did put the oven on, much to Will’s surprise – nicely handled, sir) the po-faced celebrity refuses to try any of the food, the celebrity chef’s cordon bleu creation is a Sainsbury’s Scotch Egg and the guest comic returns at the end to physically assault Kev for being such a knob.hannah-blakeley All the while Kev is progressively getting more and more inebriated as the po-faced celebrity refuses to sample the Chardonnay, which is really all the excuse he needs to gulp it all.

It’s a genuinely hilarious comic creation that, once started, is a crash course to oblivion for our Kev with no way out. mike-newellBeautiful performances from everyone, with Will Hutchby positively effervescent with enthusiasm until the sequence of disasters makes him tear his hair out, and Hannah Blakeley is spot on as the ghastly Grace Loretta, whose freakish Orwello ends up writhing all over the stage mad as a box of frogs. She had me at Halloumi (you had to be there). Mike Newall brings all the vibrant personality of Liam Gallagher on a downer to his dour celebrity chef, and, as the guest comic, Liam Pickford wiped the floor with his erudite gag about how a Southern fried chicken baguette mixes cuisines of two origins and therefore could be seen as cousins who might kiss at a Christening.liam-pickford He also wiped the floor with Kev once he’d slung him a few left hooks. Plus, of course, Kevin Dewsbury brilliant as the eponymous Kev, brave in the face of adversity, prickly when his professionalism is doubted, conducting hilariously awful interviews, pushing old puns to the limit and beautifully portraying that day in a person’s life when, as one disaster follows another after another, they just reach the conclusion: f*ck it.

As suspected, our fellow comedy-goers loved it too. Even though the original Komedy Kitchen has now gone to that great Aga in the sky, it will be back in a new format as The Second Cumin and I for one can’t wait to catch it in Edinburgh later this year!

The Edinburgh Fringe One-Weeker 2016 – Kevin Dewsbury in Kev’s Komedy Kitchen, 23rd August 2016

Kev's Komedy KitchenFor our next show, it looks like it’s going to be stand-up with a twist – Kev’s Komedy Kitchen, at Just the Cask Room @ Just the Tonic at the Mash House, at 15:40 on Tuesday 23rd. Here’s what the website has to say about it: “Seasoned comedian Kevin Dewsbury returns to the Edinburgh Festival to host a new TV cookery show, featuring special guests from the Fringe, exciting recipes and a few surprises. No two shows will be the same! The perfect afternoon Fringe show. Kevin has brought critically acclaimed solo comedy shows to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in the past. Now, with the popularisation of food, he’s here to combine the ingredients of comedy and cookery. There’ll be something to tickle everyone’s taste buds. ‘A real treat of understated deadpan humour’ (ThreeWeeks).”

Kevin DewsburyWe’ve seen Kevin Dewsbury perform a few times before and he’s brilliant, both at the stand-up and the compering. This is going to be something a little different, I think; Mrs Chrisparkle and I don’t do cookery programmes any more – not since we gave in to the God of Eating Out – but I don’t think that’s going to matter. Check back about 4.00 to see if it was a fine feast of humour and by then the preview blog for our next show should be available to read too.

Post-show update:

Happy on setAbsolutely brilliant! Beautifully structured disastrous cookery show where everything that can go wrong does. Kookery Kev does his best to make a go of it but who could survive the over enthusiastic floor manager, special guest, celebrity chef and that art house actress! We laughed solidly the whole hour through. One of the funniest shows this year. 

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!

Review – Kevin Dewsbury, Out Now, Dave’s Comedy Festival, Belmont Hotel Leicester, 20th February 2014

Kevin DewsburyLet me take you back 35 years gentle reader – there is a reason for this, please have patience. In my second year as a student at that all-hallowed Oxford University place what I attended, there was an International Festival of the Arts held at all sorts of teeny little venues scattered round the town – a kind of #oxfringe I suppose. One of the acts in particular attracted the attention of one of my friends, because they were both from the same neck of the woods: in the middle of nowhere in deepest darkest Minnesota. So he, another American friend from Kentucky, an English mate and me all decided to go and see this guy do his stand-up comedy routine. His name was (still is, I believe) Allen Brookins-Brown. It’s a name unlikely to mean anything to you, but he was an absolute hoot. We’d already had a few drinks by the time the show started, so we were more than ready to have some fun. Totally surreal, fantastic comic timing and we laughed our heads off all evening. The slightly embarrassing thing was that the four of us made up 50% of the entire audience. After the show was over, my Minnesotan friend approached him and said we had all enjoyed the show enormously and we would be honoured (I suppose that would have been “honored”) if we could take him out for a drink. Thus it was that we spent another hour or two in the company of this hilarious man, getting steadily drunker and drunker, and indeed I believe my Minnesotan friend and he are still in contact to this day. No mean achievement that, when you remember that the worldwide web wasn’t even a glint in Tim Berners-Lee’s eye at that stage, so all done without the aid of social media.

Why am I telling you all this? Because last Thursday we had the pleasure of seeing Kevin Dewsbury’s Out Now show, on its penultimate airing before he wraps it in tissue paper and consigns it to the bottom of a spare-room drawer. And, sadly, the audience was very small. Bigger than the eight of us who saw A B-B, but not that much more. It’s a huge shame because, no matter how clever the material or how gifted the comedian, there is inevitably a lack of atmosphere with so small a house, and audience members become much more self-conscious. Should I laugh here? Did I laugh too loud? Should I laugh louder to show my support? Am I the only one laughing? Am I the only one not laughing? Then you start thinking about what the performer is thinking about you. With so few people in the audience, there’s no hiding place. And so it can go on. Mind you, it’s worse if you see a play as part of a very small audience; that can be really embarrassing. About fifteen years ago Mrs Chrisparkle and I saw a revival of There’s a Girl in my Soup at the New Theatre Oxford – it had been one of the first plays I’d seen in London when I was a kid so I’d always wanted to see it again – but there were only about 25 of us in this massive theatre, which made it one of the weirdest (and not in a good way) theatrical experiences ever. Fortunately with a show as enjoyable as Out Now that self-consciousness takes a very back seat.

Kevin DewsburyAnyway I digress (as I often do). We’ve seen Kevin Dewsbury a couple of times at the Screaming Blue Murder nights in Northampton when he has acted as stand-in compere, and whenever you see him you know you’re in absolutely safe hands. I’ve always really enjoyed his relaxed, thoughtful style of comedy, and I have been looking forward to seeing him perform his own act, rather than compering, for a couple of years now. He’d created Out Now for the Edinburgh festival last summer where it received some very favourable reviews, so I was pleased to discover he was bringing the show down to Leicester as part of the Dave’s Comedy Festival.

You’re welcomed into the gig to the sound of Tom Robinson singing “Glad to be Gay”, which I haven’t heard for decades. I was impressed by its bittersweet lyrics and its walloping sense of irony. One of the many things for which that song is responsible was a society at London University when I was doing my postgrad called “Glad to be Green”; which was ostensibly a group of people who cared for the environment but was actually an excuse for a fortnightly organised pub crawl the length of the Mile End Road.

K DewsburyI’m digressing yet again. Out Now is a highly autobiographical account of Mr Dewsbury’s life as a “blokey gay” man (his words), the manner in which he came out, and his battles with mental illness that were all tied up with his internal angst that beset him up till about five years ago. I was really struck by the personal nature of this show. When a comedian comes on stage and does a standard set about his mother-in-law, his wife, his kids, his parents, his sex life, his childhood, etc, etc and etc, unless you actually know this person, you’ve got no idea whatsoever whether it’s completely true, pure fantasy or somewhere in between. My guess is that the germ of an idea probably comes from the truth but then gets embellished and ironed out to such an extent that it simply becomes an act rather than a confessional. But with Kevin Dewsbury you believe every word he says is true, which creates a real bond between the audience and the performer.

He talks about gay life in general – the terminologies that straight people normally don’t get to hear, who takes what role in the love making department, what happens in gay venues, and life with Grindr (which is apparently now compulsory). He also takes a mock- (at least I think it’s mock) pop at straight men’s “respect” for women; and points out the innate sexism in the fact that the straight version of the aforementioned “who’s nearby and wants sex” app is Blendr, which name subtly envisages the woman making smoothies or hummus when she’s not putting out. Mind you, five years ago I would have thought Grindr was a kitchen tool for preparing peppercorns.

Kevin DMrs C and I are lucky enough to have loads of fantastic gay friends, primarily (but not exclusively) due to our socialising in the Eurovision fan scene. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that some of our best friends are heterosexual. So I’m not sure if there could have been anything that Mr Dewsbury could have said that would have shocked or surprised us, but I can certainly think of some people who would have wriggled uncomfortably in their seats at this hour of gay agenda material that would probably have had him banged up at Her Majesty’s pleasure under the late unlamented Section 28. Naturally, his attitude to his subject is both personal and respectful, yet he scatterbombs his routine with little, old-fashioned, not-entirely-gay-friendly observations as a kind of contrapuntal leitmotif (pretentious, moi?) which emphasises the change of attitudes prevalent since the Bernard Manning years. It also acts as a rather nice reductio ad absurdam (I am getting carried away) – for example when a serious, thoughtful and politically correct observation ends up being a bumming joke. This is all interspersed with some entertaining comedy songs and the surprising realisation that he’s actually quite a good singer.

It ought to be hard to make mental illness funny without being dismissive or callous about it, but Mr Dewsbury has it down to a fine art – rather like Ruby Wax in Losing It, you can really break down the stigmatising barriers with mental illness if, as a sufferer, you simply but eloquently express precisely the thoughts that are going through your mind. Mr Dewsbury’s psychosis meant that all of his senses were extraordinarily heightened so that just the presence of a banana in his room meant that it took on huge significance for him – its smell, and indeed its shape, getting way too big for its boots. We never did find out if he ate it. Combining his very open account of his mental health issues with jokes about penises brings us back to those ironic “Glad to be Gay” lyrics. The overwhelming feeling at the end of the gig is that without question it is a funny show, but also a rather moving insight into a disturbed mind that’s fortunately no longer disturbed. A very honest and frank evening’s entertainment, and I can’t wait to see what new material he’s going to come up with!

Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground, Derngate, Northampton, February 17th 2012

Kevin Dewsbury

Another very full house last Friday night to enjoy the usual selection of three comics, two intervals and one compere, who this time was Kevin Dewsbury. He compered here last June, was excellent then and was excellent this time too. He has a very relaxed style of humour, coming across as rather caring and kindly, but still with very good material with proper punch lines! He did repeat a bit from last time, but it’s entertaining stuff and we enjoyed hearing it again. I love his observations about pompous people who speak normal English but then go into a silly foreign accent when they say “Sarkozy” or “Reichstag”. Guilty as charged.

 Alfie MooreFirst act was Alfie Moore. He had been on that “Show me the Funny” programme last year – the reality/ comedy programme that sounded great in theory and ended up being a damp squib as it was all background and no comedy. Anyway Mr Moore successfully eradicated any disappointing memories of that series. He was superb. He trades creatively – but not intimidatingly – on the fact that he is a serving police officer as well as a stand-up. He does a lot of un-PC comedy without causing any offence, which is a good trick. He had some great material about Postman Pat’s employment in the light of the Disability Discrimination Act; and I loved the line about how you are no longer required to state your sex on a job application form – ridiculous, how else are you going to know how much to pay them? Also his observation that he was in a same-sex relationship; well, it’s with a woman, but the sex is the same, always…. He was a complete hit and we would like to see him do a longer set in the future.

 Danielle WardIn a sense, everything went a bit downhill after that. The second act was Danielle Ward, whom we saw here in July 2010, and she was very good that time but this time she never quite took off. Quite a lot of her material seemed to just fizzle out without any real payoff at the end. I’m afraid her applause was only lukewarm. Perhaps she just wasn’t the right kind of comic persona to follow Alfie Moore.

 Steve BestFinal act was the rather manic Steve Best; again we’ve seen him at the Screaming Blue Murder before, almost exactly a year ago. He’s fast and furious and rattles through his almost schizophrenic material – it’s a constant battle within himself as to whether he agrees with himself or not. I think the whole act very much relies on his hitting absolutely the right tone from the start to keep the audience in touch with his nonsense. Again this time I don’t think he was quite as successful as his last appearance– but nevertheless it’s delightfully stupid, deftly performed and overall very funny.

 A great night out, as usual, and very rewarding to see the Underground absolutely packed again.

Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Derngate, Northampton, 24th June 2011

Kevin DewsburyA new compere this week, who it appears stepped in at the last minute, and that’s Kevin Dewsbury. And he was great! Very likeable, a friendly approach, and lots of great material. We particularly liked his observations on how some people speak foreign words as though they were native to that country – something I’m guilty of – and his musings about what it would be like if foreigners did the same back in the UK. Excellent stuff, and I’d like to see his proper act, rather than just compering.

Noel JamesThe rest of the comics were slightly disappointing on just one level – and that is that we have seen them all at Screaming Blue Murder before. The first comic was Noel James, and of the three he was the one who I think had changed his material more than the others. He was very quick hitting and funny, but unfortunately quite a small audience didn’t somehow take to him. He didn’t seem comfortable with the overall lack of laughter and got a bit anxious. We liked him though.

Mary BourkeSecond was Mary Bourke, whose act was most similar to last time, but is so incredibly funny that she was still the best of the night. Her lines about what her parents’ voicemail messages might be like were really funny, and generally she is very dry and self-deprecating. She does a Sudoku during the laughs, which is a nice trick.

Howard ReadLast was Howard Read, one of the very first comics we saw here, and his act is very clever but also very parent-centric. He has a great lullaby song about how scary life is, which is really funny, but his whole act is about coping with young kids, and as I’m not a parent, it slightly missed the mark for me.

Next fortnight is the last one of the SBMs for a while I think, and we’re otherwise engaged that evening anyway. However, there’s plenty more comedy on the horizon!