Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Just The Tonic Xmas Gig, Nottingham

I've never blogged about stand up before, basically because I don't go to it nearly enough, so I don't really know how to review it. Unlike resident comedy expert Dean I don't have a critical language for it... so I'll just talk generally and say stuff like 'this guy was funny', 'this guy wasn't funny'.

The gig was at Nottingham Royal Concert Hall, which is a lovely venue, and which seemed to work for comedy. On the bill were David O'Doherty, Rob Rouse, Noel Fielding (woo) and Ed Byrne. Guess why I was going! It was hilarious playing 'Spot The Boosh Fans'. Honestly, you'd think half of Hoxton were there. Not that I hadn't got a bit Vince Noir'd up, myself, of course. Gotta be done. It was clear, though, that while Ed Byrne had been billed as the headline act, the majority of the crowd were there for Noel, something which the promoter seemed increasingly aware of as we randomly started talking to him. Thing is, we didn't realise he was the industry legend Darrell Martin... neither did we realise that he's a comedian too, so when he said 'oh you didn't come to see me then' we just laughed in his face... oh dear. Gave us after-show tickets too, though that was before we basically insulted him by saying that no-one's heard of him. But we didn't realise he was kinda famous! Oh well. Nice bloke...

Anyhoo, compereing (sp?!) the evening was Daniel Kitson, and he was a master at the job. Really quick, and set up some great banter with the audience, and in one very long sequence, actually between audience members. One was a joiner, and one was a studying building site management (I'm not sure that's the *exact* title!) and he engineered a fantastic blue-collar vs. white-collar debate. Also, he did a completely improvised bit of slapstick when he stuck O'Doherty's keyboard down his trousers and then tried to pick stuff up off the floor which O'Doherty had knocked over in a rock n roll tantrum kinda way. Probably had to be there :)

Well, as we're on David O'Doherty, and because it's chronologically accurate, let's start with him. I adored him. After Noel (who we'll just take as read I like best), I thought he was by far the funniest, most engaging performer. He's got a quiet, innocent kind of style, which really reminded me of the brilliant Demetri Martin, but the best parts of his set were the songs. He had a couple of crappy Casio keyboards with him (one of which, as I said, ended up down Daniel's pants) and he used these to accompany his fantastic songs like 'You sent the text to the person the text was about' (genius) and one where he listed facts about himself, as way of an introduction. I loved him, and his place at the bottom of the bill was due to his lack of fame, rather than lack of talent. I should say at this point that Noel was bumped up to headline act at the last moment... of course that was *also* to do with fame, but he's got talent to back it up :)

Next I'll lump in Rob Rouse and Ed Byrne together, because, quite simply, they weren't impressive. They were so unimaginative, that half of Rouse's set was about farting in bed, and, even worse, half of Byrne's was about how thick Jade Goody is. We really don't need a comedian to point that out - I think we worked it out about four years ago when she was in Big Brother. Just because you've been on 8 Out of 10 Cats with her doesn't mean you're privy to any sort of secret info. I mean that's just lazy isn't it? I laughed at various points in both sets but it all seemed very run-of-the-mill even to me, who sees very little live comedy. I thought Ed Byrne was one of the best touring comedians in the country?

And then came Mr. Fielding. All evening there'd been just the teeniest whiff of anti-Noelism from Daniel Kitson - always mentioning that "girls like him", and that people dress like him, rather than saying he's funny - and Ed Byrne reacted to a heckle by saying 'I can't reply, the guy from the telly's on next'. Hmm. Maybe I'm just over-protective... Anyway, Noel came on, all hair and legs and eyes, and instantly owned the room. After the pedestrian nature of the previous two acts, Noel's mix of surrealism and word-play was a glorious change, and what's more, he seemed to really enjoy the whole set, despite the constant interruptions from the audience. Some were just random lines from The Mighty Boosh, some were lines from the Boosh which at least reflected what Noel was saying at the time, some were the usual drunken ramblings you *always* seem to get at stand-up, and some were just malicious. Which was where Noel came into his own. There was one particular guy who had been an idiot all evening. To Noel he shouted: 'how'd you get your trousers on?'
Noel: I stick 'em in the fireplace and come down the chimney...but I have to get 'em off quick to f*ck yo momma
Heckler: That's not very imaginative (probably fair point, but Noel trumped him thusly)
Noel: I dressed her up as a penguin and set fire to her. How's that for imaginative.
Which received a massive round of applause, at which point Noel turned to the heckler and said 'that's hate for you. Manifested as love for me'.

I realise this is probably all very boring for you all, but I just want to get it all down to remind myself. He also said when he came on that we look like a massive game of 'Guess Who' from where he's standing - 'So if everyone with glasses could just lean forward...' I keep trying to be subjective and still come to the conclusion that Noel was the best, but I can't really trust my judgement... what's definitely true is that he was inventive, quick, and had wonderful presence.

Rouse and Byrne probably weren't as bad I've made out, more disappointing really, and overall I had a fantastic night. Just The Tonic is re-opening soon, and I'll definitely be down soon, if only to apologise to Darrell...

8 comments:

Dean said...

Thanks for the review - we were thinking of going along but couldn't be bothered to sort out getting to Nottingham and back so close to Christmas - glad you liked O'Doherty as he's one of my favourite comics (as is Kitson for that matter - and yes, Kitson purposefully shuns fame so probably doesn't like the fact Noel is on the tele). Also standard comedy technique is you put the most experienced act on last and the second most experienced first, with the others in the middle - some people actually know who O'Doherty is since his Perrier nod this year now! Byrne and Rouse have always been decent acts but pretty workmanlike - nothing that special, although Rouse is certainly one of the most energetic comics I've ever seen when he's on form - he does a lot of TV warm-up work (HIGNFY amongst others) which probably shows. Byrne is one of only two comics to ever write a joke about my favourite band, James, so he gets extra points off me for that.

And Fielding... only seen him do stand-up once before and then only for a short time, due to the previous act over-running... my attempts to book him for my gig in June went no-where... still, good thing to see he's still performing.

Oh, and as for the word 'Compereing' - yeah it's such a pain to spell I always us MCing!

AnnaWaits said...

Workmanlike is *exactly* the word for Ed Byrne and Rob Rouse! And yeah, Rob certainly had a lot of energy, and I can imagine he'd be good as a warm-up.

So my first attempt at reviewing standup wasn't a complete disaster, then ;)

DanProject76 said...

Rouse has always been shite though.

AnnaWaits said...

He was a presenter on Friday Night Project, right? He was pretty rubbish on that, as I remember...

Dean said...

Rouse was awful on The Friday Night Project - I remember first reading about it and seeing it had Carr and Rouse in it and such high expectations given the talent involved. Ye gods was I dissapointed. Rouse was horribly mis-used and Carr was just too ubiquitous by then. But Rouse is a brilliant comic at doing what he does: which is high energy performance and good, if somewhat hack, material. He's someone I would have jumped at the chance to have play the Warwick Uni gig I used to run as he works brilliantly with a student crowd. But sandwiched between the slightly melancholy whimsy of O'Doherty and Kitson, and the downright surrealism of Fielding, he'd stick out like a painful digit. For your student or friday night Jongleurs crowd he's a star, but throw him into a theatre gig full of Boosh fans and it just won't work!

And yes Anna, my review of your review is a double-thumbs-up.

Now go support your regular Uni comedy night! http://www.yusu.org/ents/comedy.php

AnnaWaits said...

I do go!! Just not as often as I should :D

Anonymous said...

oh dear. I'm afraid that i was one of the pointless hecklers when noel was one shouting "cheese is a kind of meat" for no reason. hehe owell, you only live once xxx

AnnaWaits said...

Haha I shouldn't worry bout it, Noel clearly didn't :)