Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground at the Derngate, Northampton, 8th February 2013

Screaming Blue MurderAnother two weeks and it’s back to the Underground for the latest Screaming Blue Murder. They’ve removed the rubber flooring that had been laid over the carpet there on that occasion, so maybe it really was Fetishist’s Week last time, as Mrs Chrisparkle had suggested?

Simon ClaytonAnyway, no Dan Evans this week – and I think this was the first time that we had seen all three acts and the compere previously, so I wondered how entertaining we would find the evening. No problem – all four were excellent. Our compere was Simon Clayton, a slightly larger-than-life, cheeky chap who easily gets you on his side. His interaction with the audience is very easy and natural, and being, like him, slightly well rounded in the stomach department myself, I find I identified nicely with a lot of his material. He kept it moving really well all evening. Physically, he puts me in mind of a more risqué Dangermouse.

Karen BayleyOur first act was Karen Bayley, who, I think it is fair to say, did more or less precisely the same act that she has done on the last two occasions she’s been here. Fortunately, it works very well. She usually appeals more to the female funnybone, sometimes to the slight isolation of the gents in the audience, but this time she seemed to play to both sexes more evenly. She always likes to choose a young guy in the front row to play up to – this time it was Tom, 28 – not as young as usual but he certainly went the desired shade of cerise.

Robert WhiteSecond act was Robert White – with his unusual comic combination of being gay and having Asperger’s Syndrome. I remember last time he kind of grew into the act and ended up being really funny. Well this time he went hammer and tongs into it from the start and was a complete riot. He uses his extraordinary brain function to great comic effect, inventing cuttingly funny lyrics on the spot to reflect the make up of the audience and his interaction with them. He too likes to pay attention to a guy on the front row – this time it was Simon who got the benefit of his “I’d Do Anything” routine – and it was brilliant. The crowd loved it.

Alan FrancisHeadline act was Alan Francis – and I thought he might have a difficult time after Robert White. But no – Mr Francis is as cool as a cucumber and had the audience in the palm of his proverbial. With that educated Scottish accent, he sounds like a smuttier version of Ronnie Corbett. His confidence is just perfectly pitched and his is an assured act. Excellent stuff with some very funny material.

One of the best line-ups we’ve had for a very long time. Packed again too, which is always rewarding, and everyone seemed to have a great night.

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