Review – Lou Sanders, Say Hello to your New Step-Mummy, Underground at the Derngate, Northampton, 8th February 2020

Lou Sanders Say Hello to your New Step MummyThis was another one of our take a punt and hope for the best bookings, as neither of us had ever seen (or even heard of) Lou Sanders before but I discovered she was nurturing a good reputation as one of our more promising new comedians and – honestly – that promotional photograph of her having a very intimidating-looking vape made me think seems like a nice girl – and so we booked.

And I was right. Ms Sanders took to the stage a little flustered and apologetic – she had nothing to be sorry for, she just defaulted to that general stance, probably because she’s very nicely brought up. She quickly became acquainted with Jane in the second row, whose birthday it was, and who was accompanied by her Auntie Sharon. We all sensed they were going to be trouble, but actually they were fine. Blame it on mere birthday exuberance.

Then she introduced her support act, Annie McGrath. Ms McGrath has a bright shiny stage persona, incredibly polite and slightly posh, with some fun material about the horrors of the old school reunion, encountering such frightful people like Emily and Lettice, and being aghast that the school still has a house called Isis. She also had the good fortune to go viral with a tweet – and yes, over ten years on Twitter and I’m still waiting for that to happen. She incorporates the tweet and its bizarre responses into her act, and why wouldn’t you? Very likeable and funny, and an enjoyable way to start the evening.

After a break for a second prosecco (we’re so rock’n’roll) it was time to welcome back Lou Sanders. A vision in pink – in fact an assortment of pinks – she appears as gentle as a pussycat, but you sense there’s a tiger lurking only just under the surface. She comes across as one of those genuinely honest comics who tells you the precise details of what truly goes on in their lives; if her stories are actually fictitious then she’s a damn good liar. Her priorities in life seem to be feminism, equality and a strong affection for dick. And Daddies, she’s definitely got a thing for them. There was a Daddy called Chris in the front row whom she singled out for some special treatment. As a Daddy (or at least of Daddylike age and appearance) called Chris myself, I was very grateful to have taken a seat a few rows back.

Lou SandersIncluded in her very entertaining set were how she had been given a man ban from her Personal Healer, Gill in the Pyrenees; plus letting us in on her coping strategies for living with large labia. You could never criticise her for shying away from any subject. It’s that combination of pussycat and tiger that really gives depth and contrast to her style. It feels like a very relaxed, loose, almost unstructured show, although I bet it’s structured to within an inch of its life, which is a very clever trick.

There was something about the evening that felt like it was just holding back a little; for instance, I can’t recall many belly-laughs, but then again it’s not quite that kind of comedy. Nevertheless, it’s still a very enjoyable and funny show. Lou Sanders’ tour continues through till June and is certainly worth catching!

3-starsThree-sy does it!

Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground at the Derngate, Northampton, 21st November 2014

Screaming Blue MurderThe Underground was completely packed for the final night of this season’s (and this year’s) Screaming Blue Murder comedy nights – which meant people arriving late not only had the ignominy of being picked on by our host Dan Evans (in rip-roaring form) but they also had to stand around whilst new chairs were sourced from other parts of the building. Dan was also able to warm us up nicely by finding out all about the people in the front row, including Peter the rather bashful Civil Engineer, Charlie who was most definitely not his girlfriend, and two “beautiful couples” including a 25th birthday boy, who was given Jimmy Carr tickets as a gift – cue lots of entertaining jealousy humour from Dan.

Pierre NovellieAll the acts were new to us this week, and I reckon that’s the first time I’ve been able to say that in over three years, so we were very excited at the prospect. First act was Pierre Novellie, an imposing chap with a bushy beard and polite and friendly persona, the occasional “f word” notwithstanding. He had some nice material about the fact that, as he is of white South African heritage, racists assume he is “one of us”; and there was also some enjoyable stuff where he gives monotonous but appropriate lyrics to film scores. But I felt his approach was almost too gentle, and a lot of his material felt like padding, waiting for a punchline that might or might not eventually happen. He started his act with a good ten minutes about his name, most of which was quite boring I’m afraid. If he got some new material his act could go places – but as it stands, he’s paddling in the shallow end at the moment.

Lou SandersHowever, he was a comic genius in comparison with our second act, Lou Sanders. She looks like she’s going to be jolly, and she did have some good material in a quirky sort of way – her chat with an audience member being on Tinder was pretty good – but for some reason she didn’t build up a rapport and when she ran out of material a bit too early, something of a car crash ensued. She announced that she’d be doing her final joke, but it wasn’t that good and didn’t lead to much of a laugh; then she confessed she’d run out of things to say (they were written on her hand) and, realising she still had five minutes to do, panicked a little and it all came across as though she was begrudging us her time and attention. She had just started another joke she said would definitely be the last, when a heckle from the back put her off and she just decided she’d stop there and wouldn’t carry on. This created a surge of embarrassment-led sympathy from the front rows but she was adamant that there was no point in carrying on and that her act wasn’t for everybody.

Sean MeoThe headline act was Sean Meo, and at last we had a comic who knew how to be funny. An older chap, much more experienced, full of attack and vigour, who created an excellent rapport with the audience, using some extremely good material, delivered with terrific timing. Even so, I found one element of his act dangerously close to offensive, when he had some material about “midgets” (his choice of terminology), saying that we “tolerate” them, but don’t look at them and ignore them, which counts as disablist content in my view. Still, his masterful delivery and jokey blokey personality allowed him to get away with it, and he went down very well with the audience.

So not the best comedy night ever, but not the worst either. Let’s hope the great turn-out for last Friday’s show continues when the next season comes along in the New Year. Can’t wait!