A welcome return to the Screaming Blue Murder season at Northampton after its summer break. The numbers attending earlier on in the year had definitely dwindled, but it’s come back with a bang this month and with a healthy supply of punters to keep the show atmospheric and loud.
Our compère (indeed commère) was Angie McEvoy, who we saw here before, and she still makes for a feel-good hostess, gentle and appearing to be quite kind before going in for the odd savage observation. I like her style and she has some very good material, but when introducing the acts you feel she is distinctly not trying to outdo them, which I think is rather polite.
On to the acts per se. First up was Alan Francis, again a repeat visit, a very funny chap who nicely takes the mick out of himself, and does some excellent voices – his Roger Moore was great, although some of his other voices all sound like Ronnie Corbett. No matter, he has some great stuff, including a particularly funny routine regarding an obscene member of the Church of Scotland (which we had heard before but it’s still funny). Very enjoyable, lots of material and with good communication with the audience.
The second performer, and for me the star of the evening, was Tony Cowards. Using his slightly bizarre accent to great comic effect, and with a persona full of imperfections which make you identify with him, he surprises you with some really well thought out and fantastically delivered observations. I loved his description of the Swindon branch of Ann Summers; the solution to fancying women in boots; and how calling out “the w***er in the black” can be acceptable in one context and not in another. A great set that went down really well.
Last was Josh Howie. Sometimes when they set up the Headline Act to be a really great comic it can fall on its face and I’m afraid that was the case here. He had some clever and thoughtful observations but I found it to be a charmless delivery that missed the mark. He spent at least the first ten minutes discussing poo; it’s not one of my favourite subjects and it quickly palls. Mrs C told me after that she thinks there is only so far that one can take faecal matter in humour. He has some good ideas but in the final delivery they lack the twist of subtlety that can turn otherwise offensiveness into devastating humour – thus I found a lot of his material fairly offensive. I like the fact that he deals with tough subjects – for example, Judaism versus Islam – but instead of revealing something new about it, he just sounded a bit bigoted and offensive. Never mind, you can’t win them all.