Comedy De Luxe, night 3

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Steve Bennett

Back to being quieter at the third night of Comedy De Luxe – yet next week is virtually sold out. Who would be a comedy promoter?

Not that the absent hordes were missing much from opening act Hill & Weedon, competent musicians but uninspired comedians trudging through the motions, as if the circuit needs any more cheesy T-Rex impressions or Lord Of The Rings puns. This dated duo try to hit the whimsy/surreal market, but it doesn’t seem much heart or soul in it – and in their musical numbers there are too few jokes spread very thinly over two-and-a-half minutes of song, whether it’s about falling in love with a centaur or the antics of a ghost in their house. Tepid stuff, executed in a perfunctory manner.

Luckily, things took an upturn from there, starting with a routine about the very real issue of rural exclusion. What screams comedy louder than that? But Laurie Rowan has an elegant and evocatively written set about growing up in a North Wales village in which the most flamboyant thing was himself. And there’s absolutely nothing flamboyant about him. There is, however, a dour beauty to some of his most telling observations, which conjure up an isolated world where a road sign can be ‘gay’ and horizons are very limited. It’s not a particularly fluid set – a script rather than a conversation – but there are some delightful lines within it.

More brilliantly sharp writing from Jim Campbell, but not until we’ve dispensed with a rather ordinary opener about being from Essex, where people wear a lot of fake tan. Thereafter, he demonstrates a keen ability to think off the beaten track; with imaginative one-liners and quirky allusions that shine brightly. There’s nothing showy, or even all that special, about his delivery – but the writing excels, and he can lay claim to several of the funniest, most creative lines of the night.

Damian Kingsley is more of a storyteller, spinning a yarn about a visit to the swimming pool in his home town of Tunbridge Wells that didn’t end well. What it lacks in punchlines, it makes up for in his humiliation... and he tells the story very well, with an engaging, self-deprecating charm, keeping the audience hooked on his tribulations. He follows up with some unlinked observational comedy, which again isn’t, in itself, outstanding but nicely told.

Nathaniel Metcalfe similarly has quite a straightforward set, mixing wordplay, self-effacing quips about his media studies-type degree and conversations overheard on the bus. It’s in the latter where he starts to come into his own, finding himself in a position to be intellectually superior to people baffled by the volcanic ash cloud or the finer points of the Free Willy movie. He, like Kingsley, could do with a slightly stronger flavour to his set, but it’s witty and enjoyable.

Review date: 8 Feb 2013
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Smiths

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