As the clocks moved forward to British Summer Time it was good to know that maybe the dull and dark evenings were over for another year and summer was on the way. Also helping to alleviate the winter gloom Andy Parsons, a mainstay of BBC2’s ever popular ‘Mock the Week’ was in the ancient capital of Scotland last night as part of his nationwide tour ‘Gruntled’.
Parsons is an artist that I had seen on TV for ever it seems but this was the first time I had seen him live.So along with around 600 other souls I headed for the Alhambra with anticipation.
Now I don’t think even at the wildest stretch of the imagination anyone could describe him as a dynamic stand-up. No posturing, pacing strutting for him, oh no. What he does is deliver a quality set of fairly cerebral, often political but always well crafted material in him own inimitable style. But this is obviously a style that has mass appeal.
Of course given the world’s current state of affairs with all that is going on both internally and externally in politics Parsons is absolutely spoiled for choice for subject matter and he does major on this topic, Coalition government, particularity George Osbourne and of course Nick and David and bankers are targeted in his set, however not exclusively. He has a fair amount of personal stuff to expound on too, hospital visits, press comments on his appearance and a story of his early comedy career all have their place during the performance.
To a lot of people his enlightening of the Mock the Week phenomena was perhaps the highlight and certain insights most revealing of the behind the scenes and before the edit process. Certainly laughs were never in short supply throughout.
He does chat briefly with his front row identifying people for callback material and is rewarded with a couple or so characters who give him a chance to talk about this gig in future ones with a couple of the antics.
All in all a thoroughly entertaining and professional show delivered by a performer at the top of his game. He said he hopes to return and I certainly do hope he does. I cannot wait to see how his newly invented word, waterfest, gets worked into his material.
Parson continues on tour for a few weeks yet. The dates for these gigs can be found at www.andyparsons.co.uk > Also for the wide variety of entertainment at Dunfermline’s Alhambra then their website is www.alhambradunfermline.com
Reviewed by Geoff
The Glasgow Comedy Festival has been going now since 2003 growing in stature year by year but I have to confess although only living an hour away from the city, this was my first excursion into this institution.
A major difference in this festival and the Edinburgh Fringe is that there is usually a far shorter run in the Glasgow version so one has to be quick off the mark to see ones favourites.
I was partly drawn to this show by the poster I admit, a good bit of thought obviously had gone into it, also because it was being delivered by two up and coming young female comedians on the circuit, Jay Lafferty and Dee Custance, both who I had seem a number of times before back in Auld Reekie, and was keen to see how they worked together.
So come show time I, along with the rest of the audience packed into the bijou room to see an hour of the ladies at work.
They burst from the back of the room and took command from the off. I hadn’t expected to see them work as a double act, I expected two solos sessions, but was pleased to see their somewhat novel approach. It was obviously working, for them and for the audience, because their enthusiasm and energy flowed from the stage to engulf one and all, and this was backed up with a variety of funny material much of which was new to even a wizened old veteran like me.
One thing that was not obvious to the audience, but I discovered later, was the show was adapting during the performance, with some live editing going on as they went, but it seemed to have little impact on the flow.
They had a wide variety of material to work with; Jay’s quoting film lines quiz, Dee’s quirky ukulele songs and good old fashioned stand-up on almost too may subjects to list.
Jay told me afterwards that she they have hardly had a review that doesn’t comment on them being attractive women, which of course they are, but has little bearing on their comedy talent. So I won’t add to these, they are a friendly duo, bubbly, full of energy and have a mean set packed full of material. The audience I was part of were a little quiet, I’m sure they all enjoyed the show, but gave little for the performers to spark off. On another night with another audience I’m sure they would have been even more enjoyable.
There is one more chance to catch JayDee and Coke and that is on Tuesday 5 April, show starting at 20-30 at The Brel Ashton Lane Glasgow with tickets a mere £5-00 a head. And you can’t do much better than that as value for money.
Reviewed by Geoff
It had been a while since I had managed to visit the monthly all-female comedy night entitled Wicked Wenches, a regular feature that is run by The Stand Comedy Club, both in Edinburgh and also in Glasgow as well, but my schedule was clear for this month’s extravaganza, so together with many more, I made my way to the gig in plenty of time prior to the start.
As is normal on these occasions our host for the night was diminutive former lawyer Susan Calman. Ms Calman is the ideal host for such occasions as her natural chatty style lends itself to gathering information, identifying targets and warming up the crowd for proceedings to follow. The lady also has a whole repertoire of funny stories and observations too which are interspersed with the other compere duties. Susan has built her reputation over the last few years and it is pleasing to see media excursions on the radio and on Jason Manford’s Comedy Rocks TV show bringing her talents to the masses.
Susan as always in good form and the opening job done it was time to introduce the opening act
Kim Macaskill,, a lady I hadn’t seen for a while, as a late substitute on the bill.
Now Kim has always been a very competent comedian with a set that is always well prepared and funny, so I was expecting her to go down well. I was not disappointed. She is not threatening, and has a fairly wide range of topics to discuss. Okay not too much of her material is ground breaking, but does that matter? I’m not so sure it does. Entertainment is the name of the game and Kim certainly entertained one and all with her set on the night.
The first interval followed , before Ms Calman reappeared and produced some really funny material on such diverse subjects as wedding outfits, the Brownies and daytime TV before introducing the first of the two second section acts, that being Glaswegian Rhona Mckenzie, someone I hadn’t seen before. A finalist in the 2009 Funny Women Awards, Ms McKenzie played an entertaining set packed full of gags, about size issues, her new baby, her childhood and big knickers!! amongst other stuff. Her set was well received by all even if it was less that challenging in subject matter. Certainly a good way to open part two.
Catie Wilkins was the other act in part two again the first time I had come across this tall, slim blonde English woman. Taking to the stage with confidence she again had a fully packed set, and a novel spin or two on things. Starting with some local Edinburgh based material gradually moving onto tried and tested subjects parents, e-mails, ‘talking dirty ‘ and a couple of her dreams in life. Ms Wilkins was often self deprecating in her material, but delivered it all with a well practised poise. I thoroughly enjoyed her set and will make a point of checking her out again in the near future hopefully.
The second interval and prize draw took place next and before we all knew it headline act Katherine Ryan was taking over the club. It had been a couple of years since I had seen this quirky London based Canadian, the last time being when she was runner up in The Amused Moose Comedy Starlets Award during Fringe 2008.
Since then she has become a mother and a portion of her set involved this. She also majored on her nationality and their relationships with their neighbours the USA, her early life in the UK and even finished with a Katy Perry pastiche with a ‘backing dancer’ drawn form the audience.
Ms Ryan was never still bounding from one topic to another one side of the stage to another, in truth not a great distance at The Stand, and interspersing many of her gags, especially the slightly more off ones, with her unique high pitched giggle. I was a lot more impressed with her set on this night than I had been on previous viewings. She is a different comedian, and one that has matured from the Ms Ryan of a couple of years ago. And one you wouldn’t
want to miss.
This is a monthly all-women night as mentioned earlier. To see what else is on offer at Scotland’s top comedy venues, both in Edinburgh and Glasgow check out their website www.thestand.co.uk and be prepared for information on their new venture coming this year in Newcastle too.
Reviewed by Geoff