Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground at the Derngate, Northampton, 28th April 2017

Dan EvansIf it feels like it was only last week that they had the last Screaming Blue Murder – you’re right! We hadn’t been able to get to one for ages and then along they all come like the proverbial No. 10 bus. However, this week Dan Evans was back in the hosting saddle, so I knew I was going to be safe unlike last week….! At Friday’s show, Dan’s challenges were provided by (as is often the case) members of the police force in the front row, an ebullient and uninhibited musician chap wearing a hat (it wasn’t raining, indoors or out) and an intimidatingly handsome man who sized golf clubs for a living. I guess someone must. Dan, as ever, on top form, rose to all these challenges and surpassed them.

Susan MurrayOur first act, and one we’ve seen no fewer than four times before at previous Screaming Blues, was Susan Murray. Always great value, and with an enjoyable mix of old and new stuff, she’s absolutely ace at creating really funny material out of her excellent range of regional accents – I particularly loved the Brummy skiing idea. She’s maturing up now, with excellent observations about sharing a bed with a cat, and the emotional torment that is replacing a boiler – having just done the same, Mrs Chrisparkle and I really felt her pain. She built to an inventive musical climax designed for householders bogged down with domestic admin – very clever. She was on great form and went down very well in the audience.

James SherwoodSecond up, and someone we’ve seen twice before, once as a comic and once as a host, was the excellent James Sherwood. I think this was the best we’ve seen him; he was at his most relaxed, so when his opening remarks were completely overshadowed by some nitwit comment from the audience, he completely went with the flow which meant he spent the first five minutes talking, totally at random – but absolutely hilariously – about socks. He’s at his best when, perched aside his keyboard, he reduces song lyrics to the absurd: I particularly enjoyed his version of Sly and the Family Stone’s Family Affair. He had some great material involving sexually transmitted diseases (as you do), including the story of the guy at a clinic who had five hundred sexual partners a year and his somewhat unique discharge. He looks a little like a poor man’s David Mitchell but is probably funnier. Absolutely brilliant set.

Daliso-ChapondaAs if we hadn’t already had a great night, our headline act was the new to us – and absolutely astounding – Daliso Chaponda. Malawi’s greatest export after tobacco, Mr Chaponda has an infectious smile and delivers his thought-provoking and cheeky material at a cracking pace; and Mrs C and I did not stop laughing our heads off for the full half hour. “Five hundred years ago, this would have been an auction” he says, which absolutely nails his whole irreverent but very revealing attitude to comedy. If we’re unhappy at levels of immigration in the UK, he says, it’s our fault because all his history lessons at school in Malawi were about King Henry VIII, so of course he had to come here! He mocks us for being fed up at the prospect of a third general election/referendum in three years, with our revelling in the kind of “gratuitous democracy” that he could only dream of in Malawi. It’s not only political awareness comedy though – as his visual demonstration of enjoying a 69 when you’re a lot shorter than your partner testified. An absolutely superb set of varied comedy that we really didn’t want to end, and he got one of the best receptions I can remember at a Screaming Blue in all the eight years we’ve been coming. Just brilliant – and definitely a contender for January’s Chrisparkle Awards.

Two more Screaming Blues coming up this Spring, and after that you’ll have to wait till Autumn. Why wait? The next one’s in two weeks!

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