Stand Comedy Club Edinburgh 25 April 2013

aa-joeDoes the weekend start on a Thursday? Not for many people I guess but it always does at The Stand Comedy Club. Thursday night is the time when their weekend line-up first hits the stage and with the club as always getting busy early, many taking advantage of their new food menu as well as the well stocked bar, there is always a weekend feel to the night.

Mein host for the night was Joe Heenan and that always means we are in safe hands and tonight was no exception. As always Heenan combines the ability to chat with the audience, gather information for further exploration by him and others, blended together with his genuinely funny material, he is always value for money. Within seconds he had the club in the palm of his hands and played them like the virtuoso is really is. 15 minutes of ‘warm-up’ and then it was time for the opening act, someone who has been away for too long in my opinion Janice Phayre and she was on fire.

janice phayreShe has an eclectic mix of style, the Irish craic, mixed with physical comedy and some really funny material always goes down well, and the occasionally ‘needy’ persona adds to the experience. She engages with the audience throughout her set and is certainly non-confrontational even though her subject matter majors on sex. I don’t think anyone could have failed to enjoy her 20 minutes, certainly my friend seeing her for the first time thought she rocked and who am I to disagree?Robin Grainger

The first interval followed and then Mr Heenan was back for more fine stuff. He always seems to be having as much fun in his job as the audience do in listening to him and I feel he could play the whole night himself easily, however he introduced Robin Grainger, a young up and coming Scottish comic to do ‘the short slot.’  The last time I saw him on newcomers night Red Raw I thought he shone and he was certainly not out of place in this line-up either.  Grainger has bags of personality and stage presence; he exudes confidence and backs this up with some excellent material as well. I expect him to go far in the comedy world and look forward to seeing him do a longer set in the near future. Highlight of his set? Well I loved his story of a doctors’ visit, but that was just one story of many that endeared him to the masses.

johnrossJohn Ross closed out part two and maintained the high standard that had been laid down by those who had gone before. Glaswegian native Ross’s style is laid back and his subject material was different, but well observed and delivered.’ Ear wigging’ conversations, parents, kids and a hospital visit were highlights of his set which was well received throughout. I would certainly be happy to see more of his stuff soon.

After a couple of years away from Edinburgh it was always going to be a pleasure to see headliner Paul Sinha back where he belongs, topping the bill at a comedy gig. To many in the club he was probably better known as ‘The Sinner Man’ from ITV’s quiz programme The Chase, but without a doubt they are now aware of the comedy talent of this GP / comedian/ and quizzer. As always his immaculate set is well written and presented and his engaging personality more than filled the club. Sinha is often self deprecating as he talks about his lack of bravery, poor relationship history and detrimental Twitter comments about him, but as cream always will, he rises to the surface to succeed. His loss to the medical fraternity is paul sinhacertainly entertainments gain. If you get the chance be sure to check him out as I am certain it will be time well spent. You can check out his website www.paulsinha.com or The Stand’s site www.thestand .co.uk for further details.

Reviewed by Geoff

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Jo Caulfield presents The Good The Bad and the Unexpected Stand Comedy Club Edinburgh 16 April 2013

If you attend a comedy gig on a regular basis then I guess you are familiar with the ‘four acts and a compere’ format and why not? it has worked for ages. But here on a monthly basis Jo Caulfield fronts a monthly eclectic mix of comics, comedy actors and occasionally storytellers working out of their comfort zone, doing sketches, new material and who knows what, and who knows who, for the complete line-up is always a surprise and to what they are doing even more so. What is certain however it is a great value for money show packed with some of the best talent the Scottish comedy scene can offer.

The first surprise on the night was that Ms Caulfield herself was unavailable so our host was Ben Verth, a role he fulfilled with his usual style and panache. Verth is accomplished in this role, he strikes the right mixture of material and audience banter, getting the busy club ready for the format on show and warming up them for those who followed.

The opening section saw comedians and actors Keara Murphy and Garry Dobson playing two characters who had been involved in the on-line dating experience. I am not sure if this was a jointly created piece or if as I suspect Murphy had written it with improv exponent Dobson adding his touches, but the end result was an excellent and very funny segment as each side of the dating process was dissected. As always both performers proved their class and versatility and deserved the acclaim they received at the conclusion of the story.

On next was young and outrageously talented comic Eleanor Morton. This somewhat quirky flame haired comic is really setting the comedy scene abuzz and she has honed her style, her delivery and material to a fine degree. Usually to be seen with her trusty ukulele, this time she was armed with a mini keyboard and delivered her mixture of material and comedy songs with this accompaniment. I have become quite a fan over the past twelve months and have to say she always delivers and tonight was no exception. Ms Morton is definitely heading for the big time in my opinion.

Closing out part one was circuit stalwart Keir McAlister. He as always oozes charisma and stage presence and a whole raft of funny material. His rapid delivery and observational side were to the fore on this occasion and it was as usual well received from one and all.  McAlister has the ability to captivate everyone whatever the audience and his slightly longer tale about a bus journey and a Goth was rib achingly funny. Yet another top class performance from him I am pleased to say.

 

Following the first interval Verth got things going again prior to introducing Fiona Herbert for her segment. Now Ms Herbert is more used to story telling, but on this occasion character comedy was the route she undertook. A ‘supply teacher with some issues and a glass of wine in hand’ chatted through some of her problems collecting laughs along the way. The characterisation was excellent, the writing solid and I look forward to seeing more.

Another emerging comic in Edinburgh is ‘Londoner’ Liam Withnail. On previous occasions I had seen him I though he had potential, and this was somewhat realised on this occasion. Even with new material some of which perhaps requires a little work, I felt he commanded his section. His stage presence, his confidence and yes most of the material impressed me and went down well with all. I’ll be watching his career with interest.

Where would this monthly show be without a selection from cult comedian Jim Park. Whatever you think of his style and material you have to applaud his inventiveness and his ability to gain laughs, certainly something that was achieved on ample occasions on the night. For once minus his trademark clipboardPark’s enjoyment at performing was almost tangible, and his enthusiasm engulfed the majority of the audience. The true ethic of this show is personified by Jim as you never know what is going to happen next and occasionally why is it going that way, but hey we’ll all be back for more next month.

After the second interval the final two acts of the evening, initially Jane Walker trying out new material. Now this was the first time I had seen her perform so had no reference points to previous content she had, but some of this set was excellent, some was less so. She has a confident persona and I’m sure will not be short of gigs. I’d like to see more as it is often hard to judge on such a short set.

The closing act on the night was the eccentrically titled band ‘Magical Fruit Dance of the Bengal Tiger’. Okay you may have guessed by the name that this was another character comedy piece this time starring the ever inventive Gareth Waugh and Gus Lymburn. Masquerading as two upper middleclass guys on a gap year in exotic places on daddy’s credit cards these two lampooned the genre, garnered many a laugh and even chipped in with musical numbers to boot. Yet another good example of how diverse the talent pool in the Scottish comedy scene is at present.

And that was that until next month that is, when the next instalment hits the stage again and who knows what will happen and even who will be there to make it happen. The best way to find out is to be there in person and it is easy to book tickets via the Stand website www.thestand.co.uk  which also has the listings for all three clubs here in Edinburgh, Glasgow or Newcastle.

Reviewed by Geoff

Katherine Ryan: – Nature’s Candy – Stand Comedy Club Edinburgh 10 April

In what was the final date of a 48 venue tour when always funny Canadian Katherine Ryan brought what was her Edinburgh Fringe 2012 show Nature’s Candy back to the city.

Almost an hour before the show started the iconic comedy club was packet to the rafters to see live this personable comic who has wowed them on TV in shows such as Mock the Week, Never Mind the Buzzcocks, 8 out of 10 Cats and her appearances on Let’s Dance for Comic Relief. And I can’t believe even one left even marginally disappointed.

aa-jeffBut before Ms Ryan we had an opening act, that being Jeff Leach an much tattooed self-styled 100% gyppo to warm up the audience with his brand of humour. This he achieved with an amalgam of material interlinked with audience riffing, being inclusive rather than confrontational throughout his set.

The theme of his set seemed to be his cleaning up his act since meeting a good woman and has a myriad of stories of his previous wild days in juxtaposition with his current position. Such examples as his BBC3 documentary which no one watched, a visit to a doctors, the difference in the way men and women react to health issues. But there is still some bad boy in Leach’s material as he pours vitriol on Thatcher, Dappy and XFactor. For me the highlight was almost an homage to fellow comic Tony Law as he slipped into an uncannily accurate impersonation a few times through the latter part of the act. All told it is fair to say his 20 minutes set was well received by the crowd.

aa-katherineFollowing a brief interval Katherine Ryan hit the stage and from the outset commanded the club with her on-stage presence and confident personality not forgetting a whole hour plus packed full of quality material. Canadian by birth but she has been living in the UK for 5 years now and the lifestyle comparisons between the two give her plenty of scope for content, and she exploits this well. But by no means is this all, hell no, a self confessed celebrity fan Beyonce, Rihanna, the British Royals especially Prince Harry, James Hewitt all come under her scrutiny and laughs a plenty ensued. Also politicians and tweets majoring on Ken Livingston and Boris Johnson, is there nothing she cannot expound on? Also getting airtime was her family and of course a multitude of anecdotes about her young daughter, all related in her own inimitable style.

It is fair to say that once again she rocked the house through out the allotted hour, an hour that evaporated all too quickly for everyone.

I have been charting her progression from the first time I saw he nearly 5 years ago and I am convinced that she will be stellar within a very short time. The current tour is now finished but for further gigs check out her website www.katherineryan.co.uk  and if there is a gig near you then grab the chance with both hands, I am totally confident you will not regret it. And for all future gigs at The Stand then www.thestand.co.uk is the place to be.

Reviewed by Geoff

Wicked Wenches – Stand Comedy Club Edinburgh – 2 April 2013

susan calmanIf it is the first Tuesday in the month then it is almost certainly Wicked Wenches, an all female line-up of the best comics on the circuit, which is staged at the Edinburgh Stand venue and is almost certainly well worth a visit, and I am not alone in this opinion as the club was packed long before showtime.

Our MC for this night was Susan Calman, who recently was voted the best compere in the Chortle Awards, so even those who were not aware of her from live appearances maybe knew of her from TV slots on such as 8 out of 10 Cats, Have I got News for You and Alexander Armstrong’s Big Ask and numerous Radio appearances as well. We were certainly in good hands.

Keara_murphyI count my self privileged to have seen her dozens of times and have to say she was on form. Susan has a relaxed delivery style, bags of charisma and a whole raft of extremely funny to draw on, but it her chatty non-confrontational attitude that for me is one of her major assets. Having warmed up the club Ms Calman introduced the opening act of the night fellow Glaswegian Keara Murphy.

Now she is no stranger to me either, but it is a while since I have seen her perform. A renowned comic, writer, actress and mimic she has talent in abundance and she delivered a fair selection of her abilities to entertain one and all. Bad romances, men in kilts, on-line dating, Gaelic TV programmes, and impressions of Dundee’s own Lorraine Kelly were places she took us over her all too short set. It was good to see her on form as always.

becky_priceFollowing the first interval and some more Calman comedy it was good to see the very much up and coming Becky Price on the bill. Now I have seen this young linguistics student a couple of times before and have never been disappointed and I certainly wasn’t on this occasion either. She portrays confidence in her style and delivery, her material content is wide and varied and most importantly funny. She uses her language skills in a lot of her comedy, which is always well up to the mark and stop off points about Facebook, relationship problems her parents and Chavs to name but a few were well written. In my opinion she has a good future ahead of her and certainly was a hit with the crowd throughout.

bethany blackHot on her heels was the even funny Bethany Black, another comic I have seen a few times before and like the preceding acts have not been disappointed and again she was on her A game. Ms Black can be self deprecating about her appearance, where she lives and her career but this together with material on her dirty car, Halloween tricks, her cats and relationship had one and all in stitches. There wasn’t a low point of any description during her set, an excellent example of all that is good in comedy. I know I am not alone when I say I can’t wait to see her again.

jo-enrightThe final interval and prize draw followed and then it was down to headliner Jo Enright to close out the night. For the first time on the night I hadn’t seen her before but obviously was aware of her talents.

Of Irish stock but Birmingham born Jo must be one of the smallest comics on the circuit at only 4’10’’ but makes up for this with talent. From the off she had the club with her as a packed set starting with chocolate, her size Birmingham, pigeons, funny faces, escalators charity shops and her family amongst subjects she expounded on through out the next 20 plus minutes. When her time was up she didn’t want to finish and we for sure didn’t want her too either!!

So yet another excellent night’s comedy delivered and many more yet to come. To check out what is on the bill for the future at Edinburgh, Glasgow or Newcastle clubs and the line up for Fringe 2013 then head to the website www.thestand.co.uk

Reviewed by Geoff

Red Raw – The Stand Comedy Club Edinburgh – 1 April 2013

ben-verthRed Raw is an institution that has been established by the Stand both in Edinburgh and Glasgow which gives a chance for new acts to do a short set, to hone their skills, some even doing their first ever gig, open-spot comics to build up a cv and even the chance for established circuit performers to try out new material in front of a inevitably packed out club, party due to the paltry entrance money they charge. £2-00 for goodness sake!! Hardly bank breaking is it?

The format of compere 5 acts, an interval 5 more acts, interval and headliner is a tried and tested one, the variances coming in the performers on the night.

So on this Easter Monday night, with the club jumping our MC, local lad Ben Verth, took to the stage explaining the format, and warming up the room and the chuckle muscles creating a conducive atmosphere for the ensuing acts. As always Verth did his job and then some prior to introducing Peter Hamilton a Falkirk lad who did a god job of selling his locally based material. Hot on his heals was Jay Miles, a slightly more mature guy with an oh so laid back delivery. This took nothing away from his set however; I thoroughly enjoyed his material and marked him down to see again.

A graduate of the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe Festival Society Comedy Academy Nehar Neya was next to try her brand of humour on the audience. She has bags of personality and confidence but I felt her material was a little surreal for the crowd on the night. I’m convinced however she has potential.

Jock D was the next comic, who had come the 150 miles from Inverness for the gig. His set went down really well with the audience, His stage craft was excellent, delivery confident and I got the feeling that there is scope here for the lad to go far. And on leaving we discovered from MC Verth that this was his first ever gig!! That and only 19 years old. It drew an extra unsolicited round of applause for his performance.

Next up was Matthew Wake who seemed intent to alienate his audience from the off. The choice of his material for most there was not ideal, but I guess it was a learning experience and one that he can move on from.

Closing out part one was the more experienced Glasgow based Obi. This is the second time I have seen him recently doing a short set and I thought he used his time to great effect. There were plenty of laughs generated throughout his set and a deal of different material too.

Another Glaswegian kicked off part two, Ian Stewart. He also had presence and a good rapport with the audience, also good material Glasgow life, mugging and roller blades were some of his topics. One to watch for sure.

Chris Quinn was the next one to entertain, something he achieved easily.

Nothing ground breaking in material, but well written and delivered I’m sure he enhanced his reputation.

Natasha Yarr followed on and her set was certainly different in content. The mission of Charlie Sheen, racial stereotypes, being single and SClub 7 being part of the mix. Again I think there is potential here but maybe a bit more stage craft would help.

If confidence and delivery were key, then Robin Grainger would be a superstar. This guy exudes both and backs it up with a whole raft of material as well. The laughs flowed freely throughout his set and I would have liked to see him do a longer one. Definitely one to watch out for in the future.

Stu Murphy, one half of Stu and Garry the Improv stars closed out the second part doing a funny set of material, based on Easter and a public transport trip through to Glasgow. Murphy is of course extremely experiences and this told, he is also very funny away from his ‘normal’ comedy job. A well rounded and delivered set enjoyed by everybody.

john gordilloFollowing the second interval and prize draw the guest headliner was acclaimed comic, writer and director John Gordillo. Now I have been a fan of his for a number of years now and it was good to see him back trialling new material for possible inclusion in his new show. He has a demeanour that attracts attention and although his set was basically new even to him drew numerous laughs and won him a number of new fans for sure. I look forward to seeing his full hour in Edinburgh during The Fringe.

So that was that. Over two hours of comedy, double figures of comedians and all for 2 quid. Is there better value? If there is it’ll be hard to find.

For details of all future shows to be held at the Stand, whether it is in Edinburgh, Glasgow or Newcastle then check out the website www.thestand.co.uk for all the details.

Reviewed by Geoff

Who’s Lunch is it Anyway? – Stand Comedy Club Edinburgh- 31 March 2013

Stu-MurphyOkay, so the clocks have gone forward indicating it maust be Spring time.  An hour less sleep but the weather is more like early January. So question. What do I do to cheer myself up? Well being fairly close to The Stand Comedy Club in Edinburgh it was a fairly easy answer. Head off at lunchtime, eat an excellent meal from their menu and maybe a pint from the well stocked bar prior to settling down to watch the best of Improv Comedy delivered by masters of this genre Stu Murphy and Garry Dobson.

Now it is far from the first time that I have seen the lads strut their stuff, hell no, but I am glad to say their show was up to the normal high standard inspite of Dobson being somewhat sick.

garry_dobsonSplit into two parts, the lads warming up the audience initially with some banter prior to launching into the first of six different ‘games’ giving both a chance to showcase their talents and cope with the most unlikely suggestions garnered from the audience. The guys seem to have as much fun as the audience, they thrive in taking the mickey out of each other, yet they are always able to make absolutely any subject funny, okay sometimes slightly surreal, but managing to solicit laughs throughout the 90 minutes of running time.

So you night be wondering how much does a show like this cost to see? Well it is amazingly free, both to get in and out. What you spend at the bar of course is up to you!! It is therefore little wonder that it is so popular and admission is on a first come first served basis, so when you go, and go you definitely should be there early.

For details on future dates for this show and in fact all the shows the team at the Stand offer check out the website www.thestand.co.uk and maybe I’ll see you there!!

Reviewed by Geoff

RDMS presents Oliver! – Carnegie Hall Dunfermline 26-30 March

oliver logoIt is now 53 years since this Lionel Bart written musical was premiered in London’s West End. This was eight years after Rosyth & District Musical Society staged their first production, okay under a different company name, but I am glad to report that both seem in remarkable good health, in fact are positively flourishing if the evidence of the show I saw is anything to go by.

While other musicals of that era seen somewhat dated this does seem as fresh as always. Okay the show is packed from start to finish with quality numbers, with fine tunes and Bart’s excellent lyrics always funny, yet with the occasional message and this does help, but it requires special talent to produce this show, be it a professional version or in this case an amateur one. And this production has all that is required…. and more!!

There is comedy, there is good acting there is a multitude of great singing, a quality orchestra and some fine direction from Yvonne Musgrave, who herself has been a professional dancer both on TV and in West End shows. If there is one thing that slightly disappointed me was that I felt the choreography, given Ms Musgrave’s background, that there was some scope for more to be added, which for me anyway would have enhanced the experience even more.

I’m sure most people will recognise the story of orphan boy Oliver, this role shared by Andrew Morris and Luis Mutch, who ‘wanted more’ prior to be sold by Mr Bumble, Bill Blenman and the Widow Corney, Leigh Grieve, to undertakers Mr & Mrs Sowerberry, Terry Connelly and Lorraine Dobie. He ran away and on meeting The Artful Dodger, again this role was shared by Lewis Aitken and Liam Izatt, who introduced the runaway to Fagin, Mark Grieve and his den of thieves.

There he meets the delightful Nancy, Clare McGarr and the evil Bill Sykes, Andy Duncan and things lead to the obvious conclusion.

There is a supporting cast of what at times seemed like thousands but it was only occasionally that the stage, not the biggest I have seen, seemed overcrowded in spite of having a more complex set than some of the productions I have previously seen.

This is truly an ensemble piece as everybody added value to the production, but the principals, the young actors in leading roles were tremendous, the comedy of Blenman and Ms Grieve were played with style, the menacing Andy Duncan who’s Sykes was evil personified and Ms McGarr, portraying the troubled Nancy with feeling were all excellent. But I have to praise Mark Grieve. His portrayal of Fagin was first class throughout. His characterisation, accent and of course his singing were stand-out. I have seen professional actors turn in way inferior performances than Grieve delivered.

This show is doing great business, but there just maybe a few tickets available from the remaining shows 19-15 on Friday and Saturday, with a matinee on Saturday afternoon, so get in touch with the Carnegie Hall box office before they all disappear.

Reviewed by Geoff