Review – Comedy Crate at V&B, Northampton, 5th December 2023

Comedy CrateThe Comedy Crate took over the upstairs room at V&Bs yesterday for another cracking night of comedy in one of Northampton’s most upmarket venues! The layout and seating had improved from the last show back in October and the town’s comedy fans enjoyed a veritable feast of hilarity from start to finish with four cracking acts all on top form.

Pete TeckmanOur host, as in October, was local lad Pete Teckman, a jovial japester with an easy style, and a nice way of getting comedy gold from the audience, which this time included my father-in-law, Lord Prosecco, explaining the secret of his youth much to the embarrassment of Mrs Chrisparkle and myself. Pete got to know the marital ins and outs of a few of the punters, and I loved his unique take on connubial Wordle.

Michelle ShaughnessyOur first act, and new to us, was Michelle Shaughnessy, a smart talking cookie from Toronto, coping with a long-distance relationship, and offering brilliant observations about stalking her husband and some blistering couple of lines about landing strip lady gardens. At some point during her routine she twigged that the average age of the V&B audience definitely falls on the mature side, and she nicely tweaked her material to suit us. Confident, ascerbic and very funny, she was a great start to the evening.

Kent CameronNext up, and also new to us, was Kent Cameron, a massive scary deep-voiced pale Scottish ginger, who’s obviously as soft as cottage cheese, and he plays on that juxtaposition between appearance and content absolutely beautifully. He sets up a brilliant rapport with the crowd and we all loved him. He has terrific material – which sounds like it should be challenging but is truly good-natured – about his acromegaly, a form of gigantism. And he finished his set with one of the funniest sequences of stand-up I’ve ever heard, his account of being on the receiving end of a colonoscopy – something that the average age of the audience meant we all knew a lot about. A fantastic new find.

Roger MonkhouseOur headliner, and someone we’ve seen many times, was the irrepressible Roger Monkhouse, with his superbly structured comedy of middle-aged ennui, disdain of young people (not many of those in last night!) and delightfully unreasonable anger at the world in general. A self-confessed 58-year-old, his set was full of hilarious observations, framed by his wonderfully self-deprecating comic persona, and all beautifully delivered. He had us all in the palm of his hand – even if most of us were thinking he was a trifle on the young side.

One of those excellent comedy nights when everyone was a winner. The Comedy Crate return to V&B next year, but meanwhile I’m looking forward to their next show at the Charles Bradlaugh on 14th December!

Review – Comedy Crate at V&B, Northampton, 17th October 2023

Line upBack at the Comedy Crate and my first time seeing a gig in the upstairs room at V&B in glitzy, cosmopolitan, downtown Northampton. A fun, intimate venue and top quality drinkies! What more could you ask? Well maybe some top quality comedy too, and they had that in abundance.

Pete TeckmanOur host for the evening was local lad Pete Teckman (I say lad – by the sound of it we both celebrated our 60th birthdays during Lockdown 1.0). He gets an easy rapport with the audience, and quickly got to know Amber, Joseph and Dan in the front row, as, indeed, we all did. Comedy newbie Amber gradually learned that it’s easy to give too much personal response to the niceties of the comedian on stage; Dan, on the other hand, never really came to terms with this concept. Pete treated us to some excellent material and kept the whole thing going with confidence and nicely turned self-deprecation.

Mary BourkeOur first act, someone we’ve seen many times and it’s always a delight, was Mary Bourke; brimming with attitude and always teetering on the edge of comedy disdain, she gave us her hilarious insights into life in Crouch End, dealing with consensual banter, winning the battle over a disabled parking space, and much more. Her timing is always immaculate; she radiates a tiny sense of danger which only adds to the comic frisson of her material. And, may I say, a beautiful use of similes – she’s a terrific wordsmith. A great way to start the night.

Hasan Al HabibNext up, and new to us, was Birmingham’s own Hasan Al-Habib, a young chap with a tremendous range of entertaining voices that he uses to great effect. Most of his material centres on his Arab appearance and heritage, playing on prejudices and cultural differences, which in an inexperienced hand could go awfully wrong, but Hasan nails it perfectly with delicate precision and a keen sense of identifying the funny side in everything.

president_obonjoOur headliner, and someone we’ve only seen in a Zoom gig before (thanks Covid) was President Obonjo, dictator of the Lafta Republic, a brilliant comic creation and a vision in intimidating combats. He is able to both take the rise out of your “typical” African dictator – an Idi Amin crossed with a Bokassa and a bit of Mugabe chucked in for good measure – and also cast a critical eye over current British democracy for comparison. I love the idea that he is based in St Albans, that just seems so bizarre; he also picked out good-natured Jordan in the second row for special “shared race” treatment, which worked superbly. And he quickly identified front-row Dan; I doubt he’ll ever get a visa to visit Lafta. Comedy CrateFearless, challenging, and incredibly funny; I also love the way he occasionally lets the façade drop a little to reveal the real person behind the mask. A tremendous end to a superb night.

It’s always a delight to be able to write up a comedy night that was a winner from start to finish. More Comedy Crate gigs coming up soon, with a new act new material night at Saints Coffee on the 25th, and a return to V&B on 5th December, with Roger Monkhouse topping the bill.