Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground at the Derngate, Northampton, 31st May 2019

Screaming Blue MurderTime for yet another Screaming Blue Murder – and the screaming comes from the intense heat of the Underground studio, bad enough in winter but positively radioactive in summer! Nevertheless, that didn’t stun our senses as once again we enjoyed three fabulous acts, two magnificent intervals under the genial guidance of our loving MC, Dan Evans.

Dan EvansThis week Dan had to endure (I mean enjoy) the company of some marketing ladies from Avon – I don’t think his idea of anus lipstick is going to catch on – a few young likely lads in the front row with their deadpan father, and the Melton Mowbray branch of the Leicestershire Wives Society. From little acorns great oaks of mirth grew. I don’t envy his job but Dan was on top form as always.

Mark SimmonsTwo new acts (and one old favourite) for us this week, the first of which was our opener, Mark Simmons. And what a find he is! A quiet, subtle-laddish style but brimming with confidence and with 100% winning material, none of which I’d heard before. The majority of his humour comes from a mixture of pun and wordplay, and he delivered it with such dry originality that Mrs Chrisparkle and I were in hysterics the whole way through. I loved his mini-stories about premature ejaculation at an orgy, and what happened when he brought two girls home; there’s also his one joke that involves the C word, which works brilliantly because the punchline is so mild in comparison with its lead-up; and his discovery that cats in France have their own social media site. A little surreal, but with great connection to the audience, we thought he was terrific and would love to see him again.

Alasdair Beckett-KingNext up, and also new to us, was Alasdair Beckett-King; if you ever wondered what Simba looked like once he’d grown up, look no more. Resplendent with his flowing locks and curls, Mr B-K gives us an insight into the life of a full-on Ginger, with some very funny – and refreshingly clean – material. Switching up the erudite level a notch or two, he has a sequence where he discusses Blake’s Proverbs of Hell, but don’t be put off, his own selection of Proverbs are fresher than anything 18th century. Smart, witty, intelligent humour and he went down really well with the audience.

Mary BourkeOur headline act, and one we have seen many times before, was the endlessly surprising Mary Bourke, whose ability to create new material every time you see her is astounding. She has a wonderfully faux-strict style, like a headmistress who won’t accept any nonsense from you lot but inside has a heart of gold. I loved her take on how you scare people in Crouch End at Hallowe’en, and was delighted to realise she has the same attitude to Peppa Pig as us; indeed, she gives that hideous little hog the same middle name that we do. Unbeatable as always.

And that, sadly, is the end of the Screaming Blue Murders for this season; I think each and every one has been a sell-out which is fantastic news and a testament to just what cracking value and quality it is. Reconvene in September? Really annoyed that I have to miss the first autumn show on 13th September because it’s going to be immense. Book it now whilst tickets are still available!

P. S. I did get a name-check from the stage during the course of the evening, but I’m sure it was meant out of pure affection…. That’s what I’m going to tell myself anyway!

The Edinburgh Fringe 3-Nighter – 20 shows in 70 hours! First show – Funny for a Grrrl

The Edinburgh Fringe. The stuff that dreams are made of. Mrs Chrisparkle and I have promised year after year to visit Edinburgh during the festival, but never made it. Until this year, that is! From Friday 8th until Monday 11th August, we have a massive number of shows to see and I am really looking forward to the challenge.

There’s no way I will have the time to blog each show in the detail that I normally do. So instead, the plan is for me to preview each show in advance, and then blog my instant reaction afterwards to see if it lived up to expectations. Will it work? There’s only one way to find out. So, gentle reader, if you feel inclined, keep visiting back over these three or four days to see what we’ve been up to. There’ll be a fresh blog entry for each show.

Mary BourkeOur first show is Funny for a Grrl at the Stand in the Square, 17:15 on Friday 8th. Each show has a different line-up, and ours should feature Mary Bourke (who we’ve seen three times at the local Screaming Blue Murder comedy club and she’s always terrific) and three others. I’ve been refreshing the Stand Comedy Club page all week but the line-up is still “to be confirmed”. What do I expect? Four very funny female comics, each doing a 15 minute stand-up slot. What do I hope? That you don’t need to have had a few drinks to find them funny – although who says that by 5.15 on our first afternoon in Edinburgh we might not already have had a little something. We’ve got to eat before all these shows, after all. What do I fear? Out of place hecklers, being in the front row and any one of the comics drying up. Check back after 6.15pm to find out how it went! And a preview of the next show we’re going to see should be on the blog by then too.

If you’re in Edinburgh – have fun!

Well it was a great start! In a yurt in the rain, we were entertained by not only Mary Bourke on great form but also three ladies called Jade, Alison and Harriet – I’ll have to check back to get their surnames. It was good fun, punchy and very funny. Definitely recommended!

Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground at the Derngate, Northampton, 19th April 2013

Dan EvansYet another very busy night at the Screaming Blue Murder last Friday; as far as bums-on-seats are concerned, this must be their most successful season yet – so congratulations to everyone involved! Our compere was Dan Evans, back on fine form and handling a difficult front row heckler with great aplomb. She didn’t shut up when he was being subtle with her, so he started ridiculing her in front of everyone, and it worked! Dan is still delving deep with new material, and I did like his joke about stalking Doctor Who assistants. I find it more entertaining to hear his new material, but his old joke about “the appearance of space” still has everyone rolling in the aisles though, so who am I to judge?

Ria LinaOur first act was someone new to us, Ria Lina. A girl with a ukelele – suggests a promising start – but unfortunately her first song was just rather tasteless and offensive without being funny, and it got her started on the wrong footing. She did have some good material, but some of it was race-based, and us simple folk in Northampton may not get political jokes but we are remarkably unprejudiced. Her final song about being middle class and not famous was actually really wittily written and structured, but by then the energy had sapped away a bit, so she received polite rather than warm applause.

Marc LuceroSecond up was Marc Lucero, who we have seen before and enjoyed very much, but this time he was on fire. It was largely the same routine as before but his pace and timing were spot on, and the personality behind the gags emerged just perfectly. Some excellent observations about the local fathers creating their own self-help group, and the design fault in a crane system designed to lower you into the bath; and a brilliant final story involving the au pair’s knickers ended his set on a complete high, so that we went into the second interval still howling with laughter.

Mary BourkeThe headline act was Mary Bourke, who we’ve seen twice before in 2010 and 2011 and she always delivers top class comedy. What surprised and delighted me was that this was 95% brand new material – only her (hilarious) observations about mumsnet from previous shows still made an appearance. She had some great material about providing “yoof” with rhymes about dissing their mothers; an excellent suggestion for the title of Amanda Holden’s autobiography, something you won’t find on a “Welcome to Luton” street sign, and much more besides. A most assured performance – and incredibly funny. So we can list this as another great Screaming Blue Murder night, and believe me it is the best value comedy entertainment imaginable!

Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Derngate, Northampton, 24th June 2011

Kevin DewsburyA new compere this week, who it appears stepped in at the last minute, and that’s Kevin Dewsbury. And he was great! Very likeable, a friendly approach, and lots of great material. We particularly liked his observations on how some people speak foreign words as though they were native to that country – something I’m guilty of – and his musings about what it would be like if foreigners did the same back in the UK. Excellent stuff, and I’d like to see his proper act, rather than just compering.

Noel JamesThe rest of the comics were slightly disappointing on just one level – and that is that we have seen them all at Screaming Blue Murder before. The first comic was Noel James, and of the three he was the one who I think had changed his material more than the others. He was very quick hitting and funny, but unfortunately quite a small audience didn’t somehow take to him. He didn’t seem comfortable with the overall lack of laughter and got a bit anxious. We liked him though.

Mary BourkeSecond was Mary Bourke, whose act was most similar to last time, but is so incredibly funny that she was still the best of the night. Her lines about what her parents’ voicemail messages might be like were really funny, and generally she is very dry and self-deprecating. She does a Sudoku during the laughs, which is a nice trick.

Howard ReadLast was Howard Read, one of the very first comics we saw here, and his act is very clever but also very parent-centric. He has a great lullaby song about how scary life is, which is really funny, but his whole act is about coping with young kids, and as I’m not a parent, it slightly missed the mark for me.

Next fortnight is the last one of the SBMs for a while I think, and we’re otherwise engaged that evening anyway. However, there’s plenty more comedy on the horizon!

Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Derngate Northampton, 11th June, 1st July and 15th July

Marlon DavisPlaying catch-up yet again, we’ve been to the comedy club three times in the past few weeks and seen some pretty good acts. On the 11th June the first act was Marlon Davis who gave a very nice routine about living with his dad with some very nice insights. Next was Mary Bourke who had some excellent lines about Jesus’ Facebook statuses, and last was Pierre Hollins, who was also very good. I really should have blogged about this weeks ago as my memory of the night is not great. Two intervals does mean three large glasses of Sauvignon Blanc.

Kent ValentineOn the 1st July, we started with Kent Valentine, an Australian comic who did an excellent routine on walking an empty pram through Central London. It was sufficiently credible to imagine oneself in that situation, so the comedy of cringe kicked in quite a bit.

Next up was Danielle Ward who also had good observations, but I thought allowed too long a gap between money-moments. Enjoyed her bit about going topless for £50.

Paul Sinha At the end we had Paul Sinha who was frankly sensational. Wonderful delivery, constantly funny, brilliant observations, and when he said it was time to finish the reaction of disappointment that it had come to an end was extraordinary – not witnessed that before. Won’t tell you anything about his act as that would spoil it. Can I mark him down as a national-treasure-to-be?

Otiz Cannelloni Last night was very interesting. And very funny on the whole. Otiz Cannelloni has quite an old style act but is genuinely funny so gets away with it. We laughed a lot. Plus he also did one really clever card trick. A touch of magic always goes down well. Chris McCausland doesn’t play on his blindness as much as you might expect and is also genuinely funny. It was Tony Law at the end who came a bit of a cropper as his surreal style carried many along but alienated others, with the result that he got heckled but didn’t really handle it well. Maybe he’s not used to being heckled.

Last one of the season, unfortunately, these nights are always great value entertainment.

Paul Sinha definitely wins My Comic Of The Year, were I to have such an award.