Agraman – Original Review

Note: This review is from 2007

Review by Steve Bennett

Agraman, the human anagram, is something of a legend on the Manchester comedy circuit, having helped launch the careers of scores of top acts though The Buzz club, which he ran in Chorlton for 15 years.

However, even though he regularly comperes his own gigs, now scattered around northern England, it’s fair to say his contribution to comedy has been much greater offstage than on. Indeed, he’s happy to mention that in all the time he’s been involved with stand-up, he’s never once been given a paid booking. And this is possibly his first ever review.

He’s remained the enthusiastic amateur in spirit as well as financial recompense, gamely taking to the stage with a headful of appalling lolly-stick puns and agonisingly torturous stories constructed solely out of band names or London Underground stations.

Most comperes like to build up an atmosphere of energetic high spirits before introducing the other comedians – not Agraman. He likes to beat the audience into submission with material so bad punters are literally begging him to leave the stage. He holds jokes like a threat over the room. Cheer vigorously, or he’ll unleash another one.

He’s picked up no great delivery skill over the years, either. He doesn’t make much of a virtue of his cheesiness, as someone like Tim Vine might, he just reads the gags and introduces the acts in the most perfunctory way.

Yet for all his apparent failings, there’s always something endearing about a comic who’s himself on stage, and Agraman – real name John Marshall – is just that. He’s doing comedy just for himself, with no career plan and little care about how good he is. That much is obvious.

In an age when comedy course sausage-factories are turning anyone with a milligram of wit into an ambitious, aspiring star, it’s refreshing to see someone potter along at his own pace, happy to be a hobbyist. So two cheers for that – just don’t go expecting to pick up any jokes worth telling in the pub the next day.

Review date: 14 Nov 2007
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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