Joke Newington with Eric Lampaert | New act/new material night reviewed by Steve Bennett

Joke Newington with Eric Lampaert

New act/new material night reviewed by Steve Bennett

Yet another night in the London open-mic subculture, Joke Newington certainly has a great room – the sort of rough-and-ready basement where comedy thrives, full of the ambiance of a night that’s underground both figuratively and literally. Although, in truth, more of the newbies play it safe than exploit the potential for anything- goes mischief, a symptom of the whole circuit, top to bottom.

And where better for a club than the hipster-spawning North London enclave of Stoke Newington, where you are never more than 6ft away from a comedian. Host and promoter Darrell Skipper runs a friendly (and free!) gig; his compering more like a chatty catch-up on what’s going on in his life – he’s about to become a dad – than carefully honed material. By usual MCing standards it’s not sharp, and his opening set especially is long-winded, but it succeeds in creating the vibe of a welcoming neighbourhood club where we’re all friends.

It’s not all newbies, either - a few older hands turn out to road-test fresh material. Chris Coltrane puts his usual political shtick on the back burner as he opens the gig with comments about his appearance and the shonkiness of the room, constantly ducking out of the limited lighting by accident – though he segues into a response to those who hyperbolically slam those who want equality as ‘Feminazis’ with aplomb.

And at the need of the night, headliner Eric Lampaert, rocking a look somewhere between Russell Brand and Steve Hughes (by which I mean he’s got long hair) provides a constant frisson of energy with sparky, thoughts about international traits, learning foreign languages and even touching on mental illness that bring the night to a strong close with his loose, animated style.

And in between, as much of a mixed bag as you might expect.

Roisin O’Rourke has a fast-flowing style that appeals, though her material about selfies and the like are more gripes than gags, and her crowd work of getting us all to utter an incredulous ‘fuck off’ overblown. Direct-talking Scot Kyle Wallace has some very nice lines - amid a few that are a little more straightforward – but as a comedian-in-progress he seems to be plotting the right course.

Northern Ireland’s John Meagher had a confidence, but his story about crime-hit Tottenham didn’t really hold the attention – even though it included nunchucks. Ryan Dalton wishes people wouldn’t keep commenting on his wiry 6ft 7in frame, and although he must mention it, he, too, gets stuck the subject without too much of interest. His rejoinder to ‘I fucked your mum’ is obvious, too, and has been done better by others. And finally in the first half, Aussie-born Nick Elleray, fresh from a strong appearance at the NATY final on Sunday, again delivered an assured, low-key set.

Part two started with Katie Pritchard, a girl with a ukulele delivering what she called ‘hip-hopera’ – that is snatches of earworm pop songs in an overdramatic soprano. It seemed a breathless jumble – as did the rest of her nervy-manic set – and certainly gimmicky, but it at least partially paid off in laughs. However, she’s got a long way to go to get to the level of Lady Carol or Ali McGregor doing similar work. Starting with mixed-results material about vegetarianism, Matt Hoss went off-script – and came off seeming more nervous and unfocussed than he probably is… he certainly seemed disappointed in his decisions.

But it was Gil Gilmour who most grasped the opportunity of the gig, committing to an odd, ballsy performance that kept the audience on their toes from the moment he commandeered the stage, chanting a song about Nicholas Witchell while wearing a pair of false boobs. It was by no means a consistent set, but it was always an interesting one – and occasionally hilarious as the oddness climaxed.

Review date: 28 Jan 2015
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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