Edinburgh Comedy Collective – The Good, The Bad and the Ugly -16 October

It had been quite a while since I had been to Edinburgh’s Stand Comedy Club and even longer since I had seen the Comedy Collective perform there so on the cold almost winter’s evening I put both to right’s by joining a healthy audience to witness the spectacle.
Now for those unaware of the format these evenings take then I’ll explain. Jo Caulfield is a constant presence and the first two sections are a series of ‘panel’ games which are recorded as a podcast, available free to download on iTunes, which sets established comics in competition with each other and generally taking them out of their comfort zone and causing many a laugh for all along the way, with the third section a collection of comics, some new some established trying out various different ideas, characters etc, I’m sure you get the idea. The whole evening is ably held together by Improv superstar Stu Murphy this time in his role as compere.
The players in the panel show were Jo Caulfield and Garry Dobson as team 1 against young Glaswegian Ray Bradshaw and stalwart Graeme Thomas as their opposition. So either individually, or in teams these funny foursome were strutting their stuff for the points arbitrarily awarded by mein host Murphy.
As you could expect crazy capers and mayhem ensued, I wonder how the visiting party of Swiss students referenced some of the stuff, but they like us had a really good time in sessions packed with laughs, giggles and the occasional groan dependant on the gag.
So after the two sections of the recorded podcast and a final interval it was the turn of the others to do a few minutes of different stuff. Murphy was still in charge as compere and his character switch was worth the admission money in itself. ‘Arthur Dingleberry’ was our first character comic, maybe resembling a certain Jim Park somewhat, and his eccentric style seemed to divide the room. A lot of belly laughs from some, but a lot of this inventive guy’s material was lost on our Swiss visitors.
Ben Verth was next to give us a character piece as he dons the guise of a ‘famous’ author reading extracts of his successful books. Verth has plenty of stage presence and his own inimitably slightly wacky style of comedy, but he, as always, made a good impression on one and all.
Hannah Campbell was the next comic to grace the stage and was a new name for me. This Glaswegian lady was brimming with self-confidence and established herself from the off. The material in her all too short set was well received and she is certainly someone I’d like to see again this time with a longer set.
And still they came, Bob Graham being the next one to entertain. Fresh from a recent Edinburgh Fringe run Graham another one brimming with confidence and with a certainly noticeable look more than did himself justice in his allotted time.
Closing out the night was Spanish Singer ‘Jelly Bean Martinez.’ I think it is fair to say that he made an immediate impression on the crowd and elicited howls of laughter with the characterisation that he delivered. I think his selection of a couple of our visitors to abet him in a dance number was well received by their peers, but I don’t think anyone could possibly be unimpressed with what was delivered. I would really like to see more of this act, and I’m sure I will. I don’t see anything but a bright future for our Iberian star.
So that was that, only 3 hours after the start. One certainly gets value for money here that’s for sure. To check out the next time The Comedy Collective are present and all of the other shows on offer at The Stand then www.thestand.co.uk is the place to be.
Reviewed by Geoff

Jo Caulfield’s Comedy Collective – Stand Comedy Club Edinburgh – 15 May

It had been a couple of months since I had visited this monthly institution due to outside forces, but along with a multitude of others made my way there on a cold Tuesday night with anticipation.

For those of you who do not know the format of the night is that numerous of the comics on the Scottish circuit are cajoled or persuaded by Jo Caulfield, and I suspect Kevin Anderson, to step out of their comfort zones, ie doing a set, and undertaking different comedy styles and delivering new material, some that may work some that may not.

As with most of these shows the first two sections are recorded as a podcast and are available for listening via itunes.   These parts consist of a ‘game show’, entitled The Good, The Bad and The Ugly with different guest comics providing the funny stuff under the direction of a host, so following a brief warm up from MC of the night Richard Melvin, where he explained the concept, warmed people up with some excellent material and set the wheels in motion for our Gameshow host Jo Caufield to preside over Team One, Keir McAlister and his wife Jay Lafferty, versus Graeme Thomas and …. Jim Park as Team Two. These teams played a variety of head to head laugh-offs including an homage to TV’s Mr & Mrs quiz game, all to a chorus of laughter at the shenanigans. The winner on the somewhat dubious points scoring by our host was …. Well it didn’t matter, I guess the real winners were the audience.

There was another oldie game show that made an appearance when Jo was joined by Bruce Devlin and two press ganged punters for a game of Blankety-Blank. The star guests with the task of matching with these ’fortunate’  people where impro stars Stu Murphy and Garry Dobson and Richard Melvin. This was well received I think by all, and again as in keeping with the ethos of the night being something different yet funny.

But was this the night over? Hell no!! Melvin returned to his MC role warming up for the final section prior to the final two acts, the first of which was Ben Verth. I haven’t seen so much of this young comic but he has a reputation of being an up and coming name. Whether it was his character, or really him, Verth expounded on a passion for Dr Who for the duration of his set. Some of the material was somewhat specialist and perhaps would have been better received by a different audience, but he was confident in his presentation and certainly commanded his space throughout.

Closing out the evening was young but definitely going places Gareth Waugh giving another dimension to his comedy character creation of the lecturer teaching us how to pick up women. This time our ‘super-stud’ majored on political women and for a guy of such tender years has the historical aspect sussed. And the material, written by him on the night as I later found out, had the audience laughing away good style. I think this guy has the potential to be a major player in Scottish, if not World comedy in the near future. Keep up the good work.

And that was that. The show is as always a mixed bag, some stuff worked better than others, but the vast majority I’m pleased to say worked well. I feel it is a good learning process for all the comics to undergo and judging by the packed out line-up and the virtual full house I am not alone in this opinion, especially as it is so reasonably priced too.

The Comedy Collective reassembles next month, for details of this and all the other shows that are available at the Stand check out their website www.thestand.co.uk for details.

Reviewed by Geoff

The Good, The Bad and The Downright Ugly – Edinburgh Comedy Collective – 18 January –The Podcast

You may remember back in November I visited The Comedy Collective at The Stand Edinburgh and was privileged to see an advanced snippet of  The Good, The Bad and The Downright Ugly, a comedy panel show created for a podcast,presented by Richard Melvin and assorted comedy guests. Initially prior to the recording MC Caulfield did the warm up and explained the ideas behind the concept.

The concept is to take the comics out of their comfort zone and to take them away from their well crafted and honed set material.

The comics going through the wringer on the opening recording were the legendry Jo Caulfield, the inimitable Keir McAlister and the outstanding Graeme Thomas.

Melvin set the ball rolling by ‘getting to know’ the panellists and in doing so causing much hilarity along the way, prior to the ‘serious’ part of the proceedings as two of these comic masters went head to head attempting to get the most laughs and ‘points’, somewhat similar to ‘Argumental’  TV channel Dave. Challenges on The Good, then The Bad, news stories, and other assorted topics took us to the interval and beyond with a variety of ‘debates’ and led to a final round similar in many ways to the ‘Mock the Week’  finale.

Okay it was maybe not as slick as a fully prepared show, but in my opinion anyway, that was a pleasant change. To see these guys flying by the seat of their pants and the genuine enthusiasm they displayed throughout certainly made it the value for money experience that it was. I mentioned in my November review that this show had cult potential, well, I didn’t know I was going to get sucked in. I am supposed to be doing something else for the next recording, but plans are already afoot to reschedule this so I can attend the next performance.

So at the end of the second section that was the recording finished, but was that the end of thing? Not on your life!! Character comedy took over as Jay Lafferty ‘read extracts’ of Victoria’s Diary in the run up to a wedding. I have always rated Jay as a stand-up and her development into a classy character comedian as well makes me even more certain of her talent. It was a well written and presented piece with a lovely twist I hadn’t seen coming and was an added bonus to what had gone before.

And there was more!! Joe Heenan, a stand-up and compere extraordinaire, but Joe the character comedian?? Well he was and an excellent one too!! Fred Nostradamus as a semi-stuntman kept the laughter pot bubbling along well for the duration of his set, a set that was all too short for my liking.

And then there was Lach. How to describe him? Is he a comic? He says no. Is he a raconteur? Well he talks well! Is he a singer and musician? Well certainly if the short burst we saw was anything to go by. This multitalented New Yorker held the crowd rapt for the closing set as he showcased all his talents.

And that was unfortunately all. Until the next time that is. But that is only next week!! Fortunately!!

For the dates and performers of the remaining 5 podcasts check out the website www.edinburghcomedycollective.com or the Stand’s website www.thestand.co.uk and hopefully I’ll see you there.

Reviewed by Geoff

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