Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground at the Derngate, Northampton, 9th October 2015

Screaming Blue MurderBack again at the Derngate for another lively line-up of comedians at the Screaming Blue Murder night. A very full audience, which is great news for everyone; and we were accompanied by HRH the Crown Prince of Bedford who has a penchant for sitting in the front row at comedy gigs. For some reason we’re fine with front row with Edinburgh comedy stand-ups, but at Screaming Blue we feel somewhat…exposed. So we compromised – second row. I think that’s fair.

Dan EvansOur host again was the inestimable Dan Evans, and it was something of a shock to see him out of uniform – I trust standards aren’t slipping. Mind you, how anyone could wear a suit in that sauna beats me. He got his usual good value out of the front row, which this time featured two lads who admitted to being 17 so that dad could reasonably buy them a pint, but from the look of them I’d have been surprised if one of them was barely 14 – cue lots of inappropriate masturbation gags that hit home with them with all too telling accuracy.

Jarlath ReganOur first act was Jarlath Regan, new to us, and I expect new to the venue too, as he cursed himself for the schoolboy error of wearing a warm woolly jumper beneath those bright glamorous lights. He has a marvellous, confident, gentle pace of delivery and some excellent material. We particularly liked his routine about talking to your printer as though it were a delinquent member of staff – I think Mrs Chrisparkle might use some of those lines at work. He also offers a useful self-help test to see if you’re part-Irish, even if you know you’re not. If you answered yes to any of the questions – you’re part-Irish. I answered yes to them all. A very funny start.

Carly SmallmanOur second act, and a replacement to the advertised programme, was Carly Smallman, whom we have seen twice before and who always delivers a sharp, punchy routine, mainly about sex. This time she concentrated on the internet dating side of sex, particularly as there was a clearly sex-starved woman at the back who regarded dickpics as an honourable stage in the quest for matrimony. At one point Carly challenged HRH to chat up a lovely young lady in the front row, who looked decidedly put out when he declined; however, once Carly had established that he does indeed bat for the other team, the young lady looked decidedly relieved. When we last saw her, Carly gave us a song about meeting the boyfriend’s parents for the first time; this time she sang us a song about finding out he was gay, so I’m guessing the wedding’s off. A very funny and pacey routine.

Paddy LennoxOur headline act was someone else we’d seen before, though as a compere not a comic per se, Paddy Lennox. He really kept the energy up with some cracking material about class, relationships… and cats and dogs. He did a survey of the audience to find out how many men knew what a pelvic floor was – no surprise at our general ignorance, but at least using the word “fanny” a lot delighted the two lads at the front. All in all, a first rate set.

One of those brilliant occasions were all four of our entertainers were on top form and tapped precisely into the kind of things the audience wanted to hear. A great night! Looking forward to the next!

Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground at the Derngate, Northampton, 8th March 2013

Screaming Blue MurderThis is turning out to be one of the most successful Screaming Blue Murder seasons we’ve witnessed, both from the point of view of the number of bums on seats – lots – and of the quality of the comedy on offer. This week we had two comics we had seen before plus a new one and also a new compere.

Paddy LennoxThe new compere was Paddy Lennox and he was terrific. A last minute stand-in for Dan Evans, he was full of attack and had a very warm Irish personality which he used to great effect. He was superb bouncing comic ideas off the front row characters, and generally he had some great material. He didn’t shy away from the ridiculous but all his stories were totally believable, which helps you identify with him. We’d really like to see him again sometime.

Paul RickettsOur first act was also new to us, Paul Ricketts. He has a very nice unhurried charm and a great story-telling ability, with the result that he literally had the audience in the palm of his hand. Intelligent, thought-provoking material that was still very funny and a perfect opener for the evening.

Meryl O’RourkeNext up was Meryl O’Rourke, who we’ve seen once as an act and once as an MC. She was on extremely good form, with some excellent material about sex and motherhood, but mainly about sex. She ratcheted the energy levels up quite a bit with a lot of high octane comedy and it was an extremely funny set.

Christian ReillyOur final act was Christian Reilly who we saw over two years ago, doing more or less the same act but it’s absolutely brilliant. A man with a guitar, his material is based on musical pastiches, funny voices and guitar trickery and it all works amazingly well. Even when you don’t know the original song he is lampooning, it’s still really funny. We loved him, and so did the audience. I’ve never heard that amount of whooping and cheering for an act here like that. Definitely the best reaction from a crowd in the five years we’ve been coming here. Simply superb.

A really successful night – one of those surprisingly rare occasions when the energy and humour levels continued to increase as the evening went on. All too often the second act isn’t as good as the first, or the third act isn’t as good as the second. This time the recipe was faultless. The perfect comedy night out.