Hurrah for the return of a new year of Screaming Blue Murder nights at the Royal and Derngate. If you’ve not been before, for the price of modest main course in a restaurant you get three great comedy acts, two wonderful intervals and one fabulous host. One person who hadn’t been before was HRH the Crown Prince of Bedford, who was on a state visit to Northampton and accompanied us to the show. The prince has a tendency to sit in the front row at comedy shows, a foolhardy act which we tried to resist, resulting in the application of the grand old art of compromise, with our sitting in the second row with him on the central aisle so that he could engage in idle badinage with the comics should they invite him to do so.
Our jovial host was the masterful Dan Evans, with his unerring ability to warm an audience up by mixing a few brief jokes with some teasing of the good sports in the first few rows. With a packed house (Lady Duncansby was too late to get a ticket) Dan had plenty to choose from, and so we were introduced to Rob from Wootton School, a lady with a “don’t go there” back-story about her marriage and a pharmaceutical consultant who couldn’t have been more mysterious if he tried. Actually he did try – a lot.
Our first act was Tiffany Stevenson, whom I remember from the TV series Show Me The Funny, which was a number of things including absolutely fascinating, but sadly hardly ever funny. She comes out with bundles of attack, oodles of confidence, and a lot of top quality material. She had some good observations about binge culture – whatever that might be – as well as maintaining that all men are gay (to a certain extent) because they love their own penis. I’d have thought the definition of gay was loving other men’s penises, but there you go. I’m delighted to say that I’m one of the few people on this planet who don’t know who the Kardashians are, but even so I could tell that her routine about them was highly entertaining. By the way, my autocorrect changed Kardashians to Lard Ashrams, which might not be that inappropriate, from what I understand. Miss Stevenson engaged with the Prince on the subject of age and hangovers, and I got the sense she quite fancied him. Very funny, very lively and pacey – a great opener to the evening.
Second up was Joe Lycett, whom we have seen here before and whom I remembered as being very good value. A doyen of young middle-class camp, his engaging conversational style gets you on his side right from the start, and we spent a half hour or so of idle chitchat that didn’t really go places but nor did it matter. He ended his set, like he did in 2012, with an amusing account of a difficult email conversation – it must be his stock in trade. This time it was about having to pay 30p to use the toilets at Euston Station, a fee about which Mr Lycett was not unreasonably peeved. Extremely funny, and very popular with the crowd.
Our final act was Roger Monkhouse; again someone I remembered with fond hilarity from his previous Screaming Blue appearance. I hope Mr Monkhouse wouldn’t be offended if I were to say that facially he reminds me of what E.T. would look like if he was a General Practicioner. He has a rather quiet, intellectual style that gives him a good sense of authority when talking about politics and Other Important Issues. He also ended up directing some of his material at the Prince – including apologising for the state we’ve got the nation into and that his generation is going to have to pay for. Often political stuff doesn’t go down that well in Northampton, but Mr Monkhouse certainly hit our collective funnybone – maybe because it’s a general election year we’re going to be more attuned to it in 2015.
A great start to the season – next one is on February 6th. You really ought to come!