Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Derngate, Northampton, 4th February

I’m sensing there’s going to be a downside to having changed the Screaming Blue Murder nights to a Friday. Yes, it’s nearly always a sell-out now, which is good – and they make loads of sales at the bar, which is also good – but the combination of the two is that we’re starting to hear more heckling nowadays. A heckle is fine if a) it’s deserved and b) it’s funnier than the comedian. Unfortunately the young drinkers of Northampton haven’t quite yet mastered that art.

However, I’m talking non-chronologically. Dan was host again, still effortless at connecting with the audience and getting things off to a relaxed and funny start, but if he does that Travelodge routine again I think I might scream.

Paul KerensaThe first act was Paul Kerensa. He was very good, had nice lines about Cornish incest, was quite mainstream in his subject matter but occasionally trod very near the knuckle, and most impressively, as though he was live on Channel 4 with Davina, he did not swear. I think that he’s actually the first comedian we have seen at Northampton who did not use one swear word. And interestingly, he didn’t come across as staid or untrendy as a result. Good on him!

Susan Murray Second was Susan Murray. She unfortunately got the worst of the heckling but she handled it excellently. She did a lot of material about accents which is always entertaining, but did other stuff too, including Mrs Chrisparkle’s favourite comedy line of the year so far – “My parents never smacked me as a child. Well, maybe the occasional few grams to get me to sleep…”

Andrew O'NeillLast up was Andrew O’Neill, who makes an interesting presence as he was semi “en travestie” and slightly made up but still with a very blokey face. Very inventive and funny material, also in receipt of some heckling but only minor stuff; full of attack and extremely confident, which was just what the club needed for its final act. Enjoyed them all very much.

Don’t think the Derngate’s “Curry and a comic” thing is working well. You pay £6.50 (I think – don’t quote me) for a curry before the show. I wonder if it wouldn’t be a better idea simply to allow people to pre-order a curry type snack at the bar just like you do with the drinks and then have it at the first interval, even if it means having to extend the interval by five minutes or so. Just a thought.

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