Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground at the Derngate, Northampton, 20th January 2017

Screaming Blue MurderHurrah for the return of the Screaming Blue Murder comedy nights in the Underground room where, even in the dead of winter, when outside is below zero, you still have to wear your skimpiest clothes in order to survive the heat! Good to see 2017 starting well with a full house, a cracking compere and three top quality acts to get the year rolling. I liked the new layout of the front rows too – curling round the side of the podium so as to fit more punters in and closer to the stage. An excellent development.

Dan EvansSo, yes, Dan Evans was at the helm again, trying to bring some order to the mayhem caused by an all-girl birthday party night on one side and an all-guy Old Bill group on the other. He was on great form – even giving us some new material! He was at his best sparring with those front row girls – it’s a gift for him to tease when they can’t put down their phones and you can barely see their skin for the tattoos. He got us perfectly warmed up and ready for our acts.

mark-smithFirst up, and new to us, was Mark Smith. Not sure if it’s his voice, or his looks, but he put me in mind of an alternative Josh Widdicombe, which can’t be bad. He struck up a very good connection with the audience and had the confidence to leave nice pauses in his delivery which I admired. He had some excellent – and varied – topics, including girls on escalators, fooling his sister with bizarre facts and a great routine about shopping late night at the petrol station. A really good opening act.

Sally Anne HaywardSecond, and an old favourite (hoping she’ll forgive the use of the word “old”), was Sally-Anne Hayward, whom we’ve seen I think four times before. The two boisterous groups of girls and guys were ideal for her to bounce off her brilliant material about sex, boyfriends, and more sex, and everyone absolutely loved her act. As I’ve mentioned on previous occasions, her material is now well-recycled, but if you’ve not heard it before it’s a corker, and if you’re familiar with it, it offers that same reassuring warmth of putting on a favourite album. Timeless battle of the sexes humour – and the laughter was continuing in the bar during the interval.

Stu GoldsmithFor our headline act, we welcomed Stuart Goldsmith, one of the country’s best comics, whom we last saw showing us his competitive streak in Rob Deering’s Beat This in Edinburgh. We’d also seen him in a Screaming Blue four years ago and in his own show at the Underground last year. The man works hard. His material is thoughtful, flexible and first rate, his delivery is chummy whilst always maintaining a subtle authority, and I really enjoyed seeing him again – and it’s clear that everyone else did too. When we saw him last year he was wondering how much “new father” material he should use in future gigs – and there wasn’t too much this time round, which I reckon is probably A Good Thing. Anyway, he’s coming back with his new show later in the Spring and we already have our tickets booked.

A fantastic start to the new season! Why don’t you come next time too?

The Edinburgh Fringe One-Weeker 2016 – Rob Deering’s Beat This, 24th August 2016

Rob Deering's Beat ThisDifficult to know how to follow Eurobeat, but this sounds like it will be a lot of fun – Rob Deering’s Beat This. It’s on at The Dining Room @ Gilded Balloon Teviot, Teviot Row House, at midnight on the night of Wednesday 24th. Here’s the blurb: “The live music-based game show and late-night Fringe favourite from ‘brilliant musical comedian’ (Time Out) Rob Deering returns. ‘Employing live music mash-ups and megamixes (not enough of them nowadays) and music trivia, nimble-fingered Deering pits comedians and audience against each other’ (Comedy Central). The festival’s not the festival without Beat This, the perfect end – middle, if you’re that badass – to your evening. New show with four top-notch guests every time. Previous guests include Alan Davies, Gary Delaney, Nick Helm, Miles Hunt, Sarah Millican, Andi Osho, Frank Skinner and Josh Widdicombe.”

Rob DeeringSo this should continue both the musical and the comedy themes. I don’t think we’ve seen Rob Deering before but I’m expecting him to be damn funny. I’m not bad at recognising music either, especially if it’s pre-1988! Check back shortly around 1.15am to see how well we did (and if we’re still awake!) and by then the preview blog for our next show should be available to read too.

Post-show update:

Well I surprised myself by being the only audience member to recognise the legendary Radar Love by Golden Earring, which won me a “strong audience point”. Happy with that! Our star guests were Matt Green, Tiffany Stevenson, Stu Goldsmith and Tom Allen. I can see how this show has easily attained its cult status, and Rob Deering’s ability to play virtually any tune under the sun on the guitar is simply phenomenal. The gameshow element is fairly loosely structured, and I doubt whether Mr D would have been happy with any of the Eurovision suggestions that kept running through my head. Very good natured fun and perfect late night entertainment for rock aficionados.