Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground at the Derngate, Northampton, 22nd November 2019

Sally Anne HaywardAnother packed house at the Underground for our last Screaming Blue Murder of the year. Instead of our usual host, Dan, in the hot seat was Sally-Anne Hayward, whom we’ve seen many times before but never as an MC – and damn fine she was too. I loved her material about the whining office victim, which may seem cruel at first but then develops into a brilliant analysis of that kind of person. As she probed the audience for their interesting facts and jobs, she struck gold by first approaching Jasmine, with whom we all played a guessing game as to what she did for a living. You’d never guess it in a million years, btw. Her boyfriend, Winner, was also an easy target for some audience-ribbing.

Brendan DempseyIn what was always going to be a sensational line-up, our first act was the fantastic Brendan Dempsey, whom we last saw at Screaming Blue five years ago. He has such a commanding manner with the audience, so full of authority yet subtle and engaging. He has a brilliant sequence where he explains the reason why he and his wife can’t have children; plus some delightfully tasteless but extremely funny material on the benefits of having a disabled child. With his polite and well-mannered delivery, he’s able to sneak in some very challenging and often ludicrous material en route, and the act works brilliantly well.

Diane SpencerIn a change from the advertised programme, next was a welcome return to Diane Spencer, another comic whom we’ve seen several times and who surprises the audience with a delicious balance of posh Sloaney performer and some hard-hitting X-rated material to great comic effect. She offers some insights into the art of keeping stepchildren, and she goes into blow-jobs in great detail (apologies if you’re eating). I really enjoy her style and her unpredictability, and she went down very well with the audience.

Russell Hicks Headlining the evening was the magnificent Russell Hicks, who only has to come on to deliver a few lines, then allow himself to be sidetracked by whatever the audience throws at him – which usually results in comedy gold. This time we had a lady called Jo from Canada who had got steadily more inebriated as the evening wore on; and the audible plea from her friend during Mr Hicks’ set – “no, don’t get your tits out, Jo” – was all he needed. Added to this, there was an extraordinary tale from another (rather posh) lady who recounted the tale of her flashing her bosoms at a passing Virgin express train from a canal boat at Watford Gap. No one can weave such bizarre extras into their Screaming Blue Murderact like Mr Hicks, and he gave us half an hour of full-on belly laughs, so much so that we were still laughing (and hurting with it) the next morning.

In a word, classic. Screaming Blue Murders resume on January 10th with a superb line-up; we’ll be there, and so should you.

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?

Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground at the Derngate, Northampton, 17th April 2015

Screaming Blue MurderOnce more into the breach at the Underground for another Screaming Blue Murder. Another full, hot house (keep those doors open, and don’t bring a jacket), with Dan Evans compering once again. This week he had the usual front row teachers – their comedy value is on the wane now, I feel; two rows containing a very demure hen party (well, his mother was one of them so I don’t suppose they had much choice),Dan Evans a lady from Duston who thought she was from Dunstable and a chap who worked for a secret department at Weetabix. We had a nice chat with him and his girlfriend during one of the intervals, where we delved deeper into the mysterious activities at the cereal manufacturer and as a result there’s no way I’m revealing what’s going on there. Who would have thought it? Dan of course was on excellent form as usual, and got us all in a relaxed and thoroughly chucklesome mood.

Joey PageOur first act was new to us, Joey Page, a very funny young chap with rather esoteric material, and a voice like Spitting Image’s Mick Jagger (if you can remember that far back). He has a lot of terrific material about still living at home with Mum and Dad – and the difficulties that creates when bringing a girl back. I also liked his nicely made-up facts, especially the one about Prince Philip and his cleaners. As a climax, if that’s the right word, we were treated to a performance of his one act play, “Hands”. Delightful sense of the ridiculous, and a very engaging comic. Most impressive!

Sally Anne HaywardThe second act, whom we have seen three times here before, was Sally-Anne Hayward. She’s very funny in a self-deprecating way and has a great conversational style that really puts you at ease, even though she’ll probably do some toe-curlingly embarrassing stories about sex. She was easily able to bounce off the hens (so to speak) and had some enjoyable observations about all-male and all-female groups going out together. She went down a storm and was absolutely at her best. To be fair, she doesn’t stray much from her previous routines, but what’s not to like?

Anthony KingOur final act, whom we have also seen twice before, was Anthony King, whose act is based on comedy songs on the guitar that reveal (sometimes subtly, sometimes not so) his darker side. He’s the kind of person you’d expect to have buried his neighbours under the patio, and then have a perfectly logical and well-argued reason as to why it was appropriate. His pet centipede never stood a chance. A very assured, confident and clever act, and everyone loved it.

Only one more Screaming Blue this season before the comedians go into the Summer Recess. Sadly we’re unable to go – but you still can!

Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground at the Derngate, 3rd May 2013

Screaming Blue MurderContinuing the success of the rest of the season, last Friday’s Screaming Blue Murder had yet again a full house to watch yet again three top acts who yet again we had seen before, but yet again it didn’t matter as they were on terrific form – yet again.

Dan EvansOur compere was Dan Evans, lively and engaging as ever, and coping effortlessly well with what turned out to be a front two rows teeming with police. I think he shocked himself with the directness of one jibe to a lady in the front row – which she seemed perfectly happy with – so that he spent the rest of the evening apologising to her. That in itself was extremely entertaining!

Luke ToulsonOur first act was Luke Toulson, who we enjoyed very much a couple of years ago. I think a lot of his material was the same but he delivers it with such confident amiability that virtually every line is a winner. Looking back on the evening, all the best lines and comedy sequences belonged to him – playing at shops in a rather cynical way with his daughter; how the birth of UKIP might have taken place; taking hide and seek a little too seriously and discussions with other parents at the school gates; these had everyone uncontrollable with mirth. He could have carried on the whole night.

Sally Anne HaywardSecond was Sally Anne Hayward, who we saw about three years ago; again a very funny act with sometimes toe-clenchingly awkward material about desperate sex and self-image issues, delivered at a perfect pace. There’s something about her self-deprecating persona that really helps you identify yourself with her. Great stuff.

Noel JamesLastly we had Noel James, who also appeared the last time Sally Anne Hayward appeared… coincidence, I wonder? Noel James is laugh out loud funny from start to finish, his speciality being a penchant for the pun, which I guess sometimes might not work but here he went down a storm. Delightfully silly without being unbelievable, impeccable comic timing and hugely confident.

Just one more show in this season, which has got to have been the most successful run of comedy nights here in the four years we’ve been attending. Don’t miss it!

Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Derngate, Northampton, 28th October

Gary DelaneyAnother very good night at the Comedy Club, with Dan Evans compering again. An excellent crowd, one of those nights when they had to bring in extra seats, and that always helps the atmosphere.

First act was Gary Delaney, who shot off loads of one-liners throughout his set. 90% of them were really funny, although possibly not suitable for your maiden aunt. He had a great confident delivery and you were never worried he was going to dry up. In fact you felt he could have gone on for hours!

Sally-Anne HaywardSecond was Sally-Anne Hayward, who we had seen here before, on the 11th March to be precise. I don’t think her act had changed much, and so I don’t feel it was as funny this time round. But she ends on a great line – complaining to her mother about her boyfriend’s snoring, her mother advises her that it’s a shame but in a few weeks she’ll be complaining that he’s still breathing.

Steve Day Finally we had Steve Day, whose set was the best of the night. Really funny observations on life from a deaf point of view, and specifically being a deaf performer, but without ever trading on it. An excellent line about taking a leaf out of David & Victoria Beckham’s book and naming their children after where they were conceived, thus the twins are called Elephant and Castle.

Next time it moves to a Friday. It will be interesting to see if they get more people. Judging from last night, they’ll need a larger venue!