Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground at the Derngate, Northampton, 27th March 2015

Screaming Blue MurderAnother sold out night at the Screaming Blue Murder, which simply goes to show what excellent quality and value it is. This week Mrs Chrisparkle and I were not only joined by Lady Duncansby, but also the Sheriff of Shenstone, Lady Lichfield, the young Duchess of Dudley and the even younger Baron Brownhills. We were tempted to complain about the lack of red carpet, but noblesse oblige.

Dan EvansOur regular host Dan Evans was once again tried, tested, weighed in the balance, and found absolutely not wanting. He had to cope with a tanked-up crowd who this week included a large works party from a local builders’ merchant, a loved-up young couple from Towcester, and a birthday girl with her family and friends. But it was the builders’ merchant boys who really got stuck in to do their best to disrupt proceedings. Loudly talking amongst themselves, taking phone calls, getting progressively drunker, thinking they were funnier than the acts…. If in the cold light of day any of you are reading this, take a tip and leave the humour to the professionals, guys. We’d all appreciate it. Dan was of course a master at the game, treading a perfect balance between keeping order and teasing out all the fun of the situation.

Jeremy O’DonnellFirst act was Jeremy O’Donnell, whom we’ve seen here twice before, once as a compere and once as the middle act. He’s got a bright, breezy, blokey persona, with lots of good material and a confident delivery. My favourite sequence involved his visiting the toilet on the train which had a soap dispenser but no towel – you had to be there. Very experienced at handling tricky crowds, he got through it beautifully unscathed.

Wendy WasonSecond up was Wendy Wason, new to us, and very entertaining. A little slow to start, we initially feared she might not fully find her feet. Nevertheless she soon dealt out some really filthy lines and we were fully on her side after that. She had very good material about sex, family life, and more sex, and I thought the young Duchess of Dudley was going to have a heart attack at her line about her decision criteria on the Spit or Swallow question. Extremely funny, and she went down very well with the crowd.

Christian ReillyOur headline act was Christian Reilly, an old hand at these Screaming Blues, whom we’ve seen many times before and who was indeed the runner-up in the coveted Chrisparkle Award for Best Screaming Blue Comic in 2013. He has a brilliant act involving musical parodies with the aid of his old guitar, a rather goofy straw Stetson, great confidence and terrific timing. Bang up to date with the Jeremy Clarkson material! I don’t specifically know what those builders’ merchant guys were doing to him in the front row – goading him somehow I think – but he didn’t like it. It’s a slightly risky strategy for the comic to turn on a section of the audience like that – but basically we agreed with him and they deserved their public humiliation. Mr Reilly’s material was excellent enough for both myself and the Sheriff to buy his CDs afterwards.

On reflection it sounds like it was rather a rough, tense night – but not a bit of it, it was excellent entertainment as usual. Three weeks till the next one!

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