Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground at the Derngate, Northampton, 10th May 2019

Screaming Blue MurderOnce again, another Screaming Blue Murder and once again, sold out in advance – and quite right too, this is the best selection of Friday night comedy you could imagine at a cracking price. As usual our genial host was Dan Evans, he of the intimidating shiny bald pate (he’d agree, I’m sure) who this week compared baldness with another front row bald chap, but I’m not sure who won.

Dan EvansAmong the other patrons for Dan to duel with were a carpenter who seemed only comfortable when talking about wood, a maker of Channel 4 documentaries (in Northampton! Who knew?), a pair of prison officers, pub landlords, a gloomy 44-year-old birthday boy and a huge hen party (by which I mean there were lots of them, not that she was a huge hen) in preparation for a wedding apparently still weeks away. That’s forward planning for you. As always, Dan deftly got a bit of comedy magic out of all of them.

Debra-Jane ApplebyWe’d seen all three acts before, but they’re all definitely worth a re-watch. First up was Debra Jane Appleby, whom we saw here once before as an act, and once as MC when Dan was otherwise engaged. She looks like she might be somewhat hard-nosed and aggressive on stage but in fact she’s quite a pussycat once you get her vibe. Recently married, this time to a woman, she’s currently seeing life through a different lens, which is the source of a lot of fresh material. She’s the kind of act who takes a few subjects and explores them at length, rather than peppering her routine with lots of one-hit wonders. I very much enjoyed her observations on the benefits or otherwise of people living longer lives, and she has an enjoyable, relaxed style which was the perfect start for the night.

Steve DayNext up, and in a change of programme, came Steve Day, whom we have seen twice before, but a long time ago. He is deaf, and the majority of his routine comes from finding the humorous side to living with a disability and specifically what you can achieve when you can barely hear anything. He’s got a great delivery style, with masses of confidence and a string of extremely funny material. Amongst his gems were moving to Sutton Coldfield because of the views, and what happened when he co-hosted the Paralympic Torch ceremony in London with Boris Johnson. We all loved him.

Mitch BennOur headline act was Mitch Benn, whom we saw here in 2014 and 2016. The great news is that he’s still incredibly funny, with a very lively mind and a capacity to weave the audience into his comedy musical material. He started with an absolutely astonishing song that included all the professions of the members of the audience that Dan had gleaned in his opening session – quite brilliant, and definitely the highlight of the night. The not so great news is that everything else he did was exactly the same as the previous two occasions he came here, including the (still funny) xenophobic Eurovision song and the (I don’t quite get it) Very Hungry Caterpillar song. If you’ve not seen him before, his is a highly entertaining act. It would be great if he could just make up a few new songs though?

As always a brilliant night’s comedy. And if you can’t wait until May 31st for the next Screaming Blue Murder, Dan’s appearing at the Brighton Fringe on May 18th, 23rd and 24th with his new show – which I’m sure will be first-rate. Sadly we can’t go, but you should!

Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground, Derngate, Northampton, 16th March 2012

Dan EvansGreat to see yet another very full house for the regular Screaming Blue Murder comedy club last Friday. Our compere was Dan Evans, on excellent form again, and getting us well warmed up with his interaction with the front rows. We were quite a lively bunch last Friday, so there was plenty of material for him to juggle with. I’m enjoying the way Dan now introduces new material with a crestfallen sigh as if to pave the way for its unsuccessful response – it’s becoming a very funny new theme for his compering!

Paul Pirie Our first act was Paul Pirie. When I was getting the pre-show drinkies in, Paul Pirie was also at the bar, ordering a couple of drinks in a softly spoken and self-effacing manner. What a nice, unassuming and polite person he seemed, I thought. How different from his act! Aggressive and vulgar, the vast majority of his material seemed to concentrate on the more unpleasant bodily fluids and emissions, joking about people with disabilities, and doing to death each scenario he described with repeated sound effects. If he made a screaming noise to accompany, say, a stabbing action, he would do it about eight times, until he, and I, were exhausted with it. Additionally there was something wrong with his microphone, which meant that his voice was piercing and grating and went right through my brain. I spent his entire act with my right forefinger pressed on my eardrum. This act and I didn’t mix. However, in the interest of fairness, I have to say that the majority of the younger people in the audience found him hilarious.

Sunna JarmanAlas, the same could not be said for our second act, Sunna Jarman. She started very promisingly but for some reason could not quite hit her stride. I think she needs to strengthen her comic persona; she has some – very funny – lines that equate to her being a bit of a posh bird, and I think if she created some more snobbish material she could be much funnier. Even with her act going a bit wobbly, I still found her more entertaining than Paul Pirie. However, about seven minutes into her act, she was saying something detrimental about Katie Price (personally I have no problem with that), when she received a devastating heckle to the effect that at least Katie Price tells better jokes. Unfortunately, I don’t think she heard what the heckler said properly, so she ignored it; but the audience all heard it and basically agreed with it – and thus she was lost from then on. I’m pretty sure she cut and ran shortly afterwards.

Steve DayFortunately in came the cavalry to rescue the evening in the form of our final act, Steve Day. We’ve seen him here before a couple of years ago, and he is fantastically entertaining. He is deaf, and most of his material is based on being a deaf person in a hearing world, but it’s never sentimental or self-pitying, preachy or defensive. Some very insightful comedy about discrimination within disabilities, plus also some generally offbeat observations about families – and windfarms. So many great lines, I won’t spoil them by repeating them; but he is a superb comic as his massive reception at the end testified and you must catch him if you possibly can.

Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Derngate, Northampton, 28th October

Gary DelaneyAnother very good night at the Comedy Club, with Dan Evans compering again. An excellent crowd, one of those nights when they had to bring in extra seats, and that always helps the atmosphere.

First act was Gary Delaney, who shot off loads of one-liners throughout his set. 90% of them were really funny, although possibly not suitable for your maiden aunt. He had a great confident delivery and you were never worried he was going to dry up. In fact you felt he could have gone on for hours!

Sally-Anne HaywardSecond was Sally-Anne Hayward, who we had seen here before, on the 11th March to be precise. I don’t think her act had changed much, and so I don’t feel it was as funny this time round. But she ends on a great line – complaining to her mother about her boyfriend’s snoring, her mother advises her that it’s a shame but in a few weeks she’ll be complaining that he’s still breathing.

Steve Day Finally we had Steve Day, whose set was the best of the night. Really funny observations on life from a deaf point of view, and specifically being a deaf performer, but without ever trading on it. An excellent line about taking a leaf out of David & Victoria Beckham’s book and naming their children after where they were conceived, thus the twins are called Elephant and Castle.

Next time it moves to a Friday. It will be interesting to see if they get more people. Judging from last night, they’ll need a larger venue!