Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground at the Derngate, Northampton, 12th May 2017

Dan Evans‘Twas the night before Eurovision, and all through the house not a creature was stirring, because we’d all gone out to the Screaming Blue Murder comedy club. Our genial host Dan Evans was on cracking form as usual, sparring ever-so-gently with the people from TCL Landscaping, a 40-year-old birthday boy, a Jumbo-sized guy who dwarfed everyone around him – and Kate. Dan tried to rope Kate into a bit of banter but she wasn’t having any of it. But she didn’t just go coy and sheepish, she went on the offensive and all it went a bit Pete Tong. Sit anywhere near the front in a comedy club and you might end up part of the action. Dem’s de rules. Never mind, better luck next fortnight.

Debra Jane ApplebyOur first act was Debra-Jane Appleby, quite a posh name for someone who isn’t really that posh. We’d seen her here six years ago (gasp!) where she was our commère for the evening. This time we got to see her act and there’s no doubt about it, she’s really funny. She had some brilliant bits of business – like the visual image of your entitlement to a pension getting further and further away, and her material about trying to be gay because you don’t know until you’ve tried it. She’s also great with addressing her weight issues, in which capacity I can definitely feel her pain. A fab start to the evening.

Bobby MairNext up was Bobby Mair, new to us, and once seen never forgotten. A wonderfully warped sense of humour, he delivers his material as though he was your local friendly psychopath. He’s the kind of guy you can trust to say the wrong thing at a funeral. Indeed – he picked one guy at random from the audience and empathised that if his wife were to die, the benefit of it would be that he could at least f*ck a stranger. I loved his material about music festivals and their similarity to refugee camps; but he’s the kind of comic who keeps the material coming at irregular intervals which in itself unsettles you and pulls you up short with a devastating punchline out of the blue. I can say no more. Utterly brilliant.

Christian ReillyOur headline act was Christian Reilly, whom we’ve seen many times before and always puts on a tremendous show of musical comedy, parodying styles and performers, changing their lyrics and always for the better! His Bryan Ferry material was absolutely hilarious and as for his Donald Trump sequence… well yes indeed. He has just the right level of attack and he went down an absolute storm.

Three fantastic acts this week! One more Screaming Blue on 26th May before it hibernates for the summer. You should come!

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!

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

Screaming Blue MurderThis is turning out to be one of the most successful Screaming Blue Murder seasons we’ve witnessed, both from the point of view of the number of bums on seats – lots – and of the quality of the comedy on offer. This week we had two comics we had seen before plus a new one and also a new compere.

Paddy LennoxThe new compere was Paddy Lennox and he was terrific. A last minute stand-in for Dan Evans, he was full of attack and had a very warm Irish personality which he used to great effect. He was superb bouncing comic ideas off the front row characters, and generally he had some great material. He didn’t shy away from the ridiculous but all his stories were totally believable, which helps you identify with him. We’d really like to see him again sometime.

Paul RickettsOur first act was also new to us, Paul Ricketts. He has a very nice unhurried charm and a great story-telling ability, with the result that he literally had the audience in the palm of his hand. Intelligent, thought-provoking material that was still very funny and a perfect opener for the evening.

Meryl O’RourkeNext up was Meryl O’Rourke, who we’ve seen once as an act and once as an MC. She was on extremely good form, with some excellent material about sex and motherhood, but mainly about sex. She ratcheted the energy levels up quite a bit with a lot of high octane comedy and it was an extremely funny set.

Christian ReillyOur final act was Christian Reilly who we saw over two years ago, doing more or less the same act but it’s absolutely brilliant. A man with a guitar, his material is based on musical pastiches, funny voices and guitar trickery and it all works amazingly well. Even when you don’t know the original song he is lampooning, it’s still really funny. We loved him, and so did the audience. I’ve never heard that amount of whooping and cheering for an act here like that. Definitely the best reaction from a crowd in the five years we’ve been coming here. Simply superb.

A really successful night – one of those surprisingly rare occasions when the energy and humour levels continued to increase as the evening went on. All too often the second act isn’t as good as the first, or the third act isn’t as good as the second. This time the recipe was faultless. The perfect comedy night out.

Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Derngate, Northampton, 14th October

Dougie DunlopLast night’s Screaming Blue Murder was quite an odd affair really, as there were only about 60 people in the hall. Normally they get at least twice that. So the atmosphere was a little on the quiet side, and you felt the comics had to work twice as hard to get the laughs, and possibly took fewer risks as well. In addition, some of the crowd were a bit…odd… You know it’s going to be a strange night when Dan Evans (compere again, on good form) asked a guy in the front row what he did for a living and he said he worked from his bedroom…and the first thing he did in the morning was to “knock one out”….

Windsor Moving on. Fortunately the turns were all great. The first comic was Dougie Dunlop, an Islington Scot with excellent observations about the stupidity of the world. Clever stuff, very funny. Next was Windsor, the only comic (Dan Evans aside) who we have seen more than once at this club. I think he did precisely the same act as he did the time before, but luckily, it’s a very funny act. Nice observations from a more villainous perspective. A West Ham fan too, so clearly a Good Man. Christian Reilly Last up was Christian Reilly, using his guitar as prop, very funny musical jokes (something in the style of another, I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue inspired I feel), looked slightly more alarmed at the sparse numbers of the audience than the other two, but still got plenty of laughs.

One more session two weeks time of this show being on a Thursday, and then it moves to Fridays. I think that will increase the numbers (and therefore the hilarity). I’ll miss my Friday night drinkies and curry routine though.