Hurrah for the return of the Screaming Blue Murder comedy nights in the Underground room where, even in the dead of winter, when outside is below zero, you still have to wear your skimpiest clothes in order to survive the heat! Good to see 2017 starting well with a full house, a cracking compere and three top quality acts to get the year rolling. I liked the new layout of the front rows too – curling round the side of the podium so as to fit more punters in and closer to the stage. An excellent development.
So, yes, Dan Evans was at the helm again, trying to bring some order to the mayhem caused by an all-girl birthday party night on one side and an all-guy Old Bill group on the other. He was on great form – even giving us some new material! He was at his best sparring with those front row girls – it’s a gift for him to tease when they can’t put down their phones and you can barely see their skin for the tattoos. He got us perfectly warmed up and ready for our acts.
First up, and new to us, was Mark Smith. Not sure if it’s his voice, or his looks, but he put me in mind of an alternative Josh Widdicombe, which can’t be bad. He struck up a very good connection with the audience and had the confidence to leave nice pauses in his delivery which I admired. He had some excellent – and varied – topics, including girls on escalators, fooling his sister with bizarre facts and a great routine about shopping late night at the petrol station. A really good opening act.
Second, and an old favourite (hoping she’ll forgive the use of the word “old”), was Sally-Anne Hayward, whom we’ve seen I think four times before. The two boisterous groups of girls and guys were ideal for her to bounce off her brilliant material about sex, boyfriends, and more sex, and everyone absolutely loved her act. As I’ve mentioned on previous occasions, her material is now well-recycled, but if you’ve not heard it before it’s a corker, and if you’re familiar with it, it offers that same reassuring warmth of putting on a favourite album. Timeless battle of the sexes humour – and the laughter was continuing in the bar during the interval.
For our headline act, we welcomed Stuart Goldsmith, one of the country’s best comics, whom we last saw showing us his competitive streak in Rob Deering’s Beat This in Edinburgh. We’d also seen him in a Screaming Blue four years ago and in his own show at the Underground last year. The man works hard. His material is thoughtful, flexible and first rate, his delivery is chummy whilst always maintaining a subtle authority, and I really enjoyed seeing him again – and it’s clear that everyone else did too. When we saw him last year he was wondering how much “new father” material he should use in future gigs – and there wasn’t too much this time round, which I reckon is probably A Good Thing. Anyway, he’s coming back with his new show later in the Spring and we already have our tickets booked.
A fantastic start to the new season! Why don’t you come next time too?