Review – The Comedy Crate at the Black Prince Pub, Northampton, 15th July 2021

Comedy CrateThose lovely comedy lovers at the Comedy Crate had already resumed residence in the back garden of the Black Prince a few weeks ago, but this was the first show that we’d been able to catch – and my first non-Zoom comedy gig since their show last October. Such are the ways of the pandemic. The line-up had unavoidably changed a bit between being first announced and the show on the night, but that’s often the way with live gigs!

Jenny CollierOur MC for the night was Jenny Collier, whom we last saw on one of the Comedy Crate’s online gigs earlier this year. She’s a sparky presence, with her charming appearance and cut-glass accent acting as a great juxtaposition to some ribald language. She’s been working as a GP receptionist for some of these Covid times, which was a source of some excellent material. However, I most enjoyed her account of giving a – I can’t dress this up in any other way – stool sample for the medics to explore. We were an occasionally unruly crowd, so she had a lot on her plate for the evening, but she was great fun and kept the show going at a great pace.

Olaf Falafel Our first act, and one of my all-time favourite comedians, was Olaf Falafel, whom we’ve seen many times in Edinburgh. In his trademark stripy blue sailor’s shirt, which makes him look like an extra from There is Nothing Like a Dame, he attacked us with some brilliant material, playing off the crowd beautifully, and ending up with his famous biscuitology routine. His comedy is a wonderful mixture of the absurd and the childish, but with lots of devastatingly clever observations and woefully funny puns. Great to see him again.

Toussaint DouglassNext up, and new to us, was Toussaint Douglass; a naturally funny guy with a very relaxed style but with some strong punchy material full of surprises, including some challenging stuff about race. A very likeable personality, with some nice self-deprecating observations, he struck up an excellent rapport with the audience. Very enjoyable, and someone to look forward to seeing again!

Tony LawFor our headline act we had the rather wacky and unpredictable Tony Law, whom we’ve seen a few times before and sometimes he goes down a storm, and sometimes he doesn’t! I very much liked his use of accents in his act, and he’s supremely confident with dealing with the crowd; you either “get” his flights of fancy or you don’t and, personally, on the whole, I don’t! But the majority of the audience did, so I admit it’s my problem not his!

There’s another Comedy Crate in the garden of the Black Prince on Thursday 19th August. We’re going, are you?

Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground, Royal and Derngate, Northampton, 7th September 2012

Screaming Blue MurderHurrah for the return of the Screaming Blue Murder autumn season, from the hot and sweaty depths of the Underground in the Royal and Derngate – but at least it doesn’t smell of damp anymore. Not going to criticise it though, as it’s a perfect venue for this kind of comedy club.

Dan EvansA good crowd – which featured not only Mrs Chrisparkle and myself, but also My Lady Duncansby, the Baron von Badby and the Duchess of Duston – saw Dan Evans introduce the usual line up of three super comics and two lovely intervals. Dan was on very good form – effortless in his interaction with the front rows, and dispensing lots of new material (phew! Good stuff!) even if the one old joke he told was the one that got the biggest laugh.

OlaFirst up was Ola; Olawale Gbaja-Biamila according to Chortle, or Olathecomedian according to Twitter. New to us, it was stimulating to have some intelligent, thoughtful observations to start the evening off, and I admired how he was absolutely in control of the pace of his set, carrying us all along with him, dropping in the funny lines and quirky ideas exactly when he wanted. Lots of pauses, but I had complete confidence in him to see out each thread to its intended outcome. I liked the use of “urban charm” – you’ll have to watch his act to see how that gets included – and also he had a nice form of self-deprecation – one where he allows us to get humour out of his (apparent) slight bigheadedness. When he said he was a Christian you could hear a pin drop – superb timing.

Pierre HollinsThe other two acts we had seen before. Pierre Hollins was next, and I remember him as being full of attack, with lots of hard-hitting material, and he was just the same this time – if slightly better. He’s very good at presenting you with situations as experienced by an ordinary bloke (whatever that is) and I certainly found myself recognising a lot of the funny observations he made. A bit coarse, but in a friendly way. A couple of bizarre songs on the guitar at the end weren’t as strong as the rest of his material, so it didn’t quite finish on a high, but he probably got the loudest applause of the night anyway.

Tony LawThe headline act was Tony Law, who we thought also had improved a lot from the last time he was here. He has a very surreal act; he instantly launches into another world populated by his imagination, which to me only partly makes sense and even less makes for humour. I can’t describe his world – I’m afraid I simply don’t recognise it. This level of surrealism must be a dangerous comedic ploy – if the audience isn’t “getting it”, there’s really nowhere to go; you’re in so deep that you can’t backtrack and start again on a different tack. Last time he was here he was heckled pretty mercilessly and didn’t cope well with it – he got defensive and – frankly – a bit arsey with the hecklers (who were funnier than he was). This time the Northampton audience was much more polite. And although I didn’t really get his act, and I noticed stony silence from Mrs C and Lady D, and drooping eyelids from the Baron, the Duchess of Duston at the end of the row was rocking back and forward with hysteria. Humour is such a subjective thing. His African and Indian elephant routine at the end was a masterstroke though, and I loved it. You had to be there.

Another bunch of comics in two weeks time – already looking forward to it!