Adam Bloom etc at Ginglik

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Steve Bennett

These days, you have to spend a little more than a penny to get into Ginglik – the bar that used to be the public toilets on Shepherds Bush Green – but it’s still a prime example of the excellent value-for-money you can get from a good local comedy club. Eight quid - or five for members – last night got you not just the advertised headliner Adam Bloom, but a famous face off the telly trying new stuff, and a Mock The Week neophyte tipped for greater things.

Things started a little slower, though. Opening act Joe K is one of the plethora of modern comedians with charm, style and control over the room, but little real soul. He offers a a few interesting tidbits, such as a section about wedding tradition in his native Ghana, but generally this is a set of mildly amusing anecdotes told with technical skill that disguises their lightweight nature.

It’s evidenced by a call-back that’s awkwardly jemmied on to the end of a silly tale of a midget on a train; the reference mechanically generates an applause break, even though it doesn’t fit into the story. So he’s entertaining enough, but not in a way that would make him stand-out.

He was followed by the first unscheduled act, Seann Walsh, running through a ‘greatest hits’ package of everyday observations with the broad appeal that could make him a mainstream star. Animatedly acting out everything from the commuters asleep on the Tube to his own laptop viewing stance, his witty material about common experiences strikes more chords than a thrash metal guitarist.

Opening the second section, Laurence Tuck had more difficulties engaging with an audience not convinced whether his awkward style was an act or genuine discomfort at being there.

With his quirky one-liners, he’s going for a Milton-Jones-in-a-tweed-jacket vibe, but doesn’t quite judge the level correctly. He needs an opening stronger that the waffle about his dress sense to make a convincing argument that’s funny from the get-go, and his rigid style gives him no wriggle room when the material falls on stony ground, as it did tonight.

It’s a shame as some of his best jokes are inventively offbeat – though there are some groaners in the mix too. He’s better that the frosty reception he received, but not good enough to be able to do anything about it.

A frisson went around the room when compere Tom Craine announced a big name known to all would be taking to this intimate stage to work through some new stuff. Then Patrick Kielty arrived and admitted he probably wasn’t the comedy superstar they were expecting.

It may have been his fame, or perhaps a mastery of technique only experience can bring, but he got warm reactions to some pat lines about this low-ceilinged basement being reminiscent of Josepf Fritzl’s cellar, or complaining, tongue-in-cheek how the Muslims have taken all the terrorism stereotypes from the Irish.

Kielty is, of course, from Northern Ireland - and he griped at how that made him an instant expert on the recent riots, at least in the eyes of lazy TV producers. Yet he has his Molotov Cocktail and throws it, for he does, indeed have some sharp and funny comments on the disturbances. Just shame on you for expecting him to.

Elsewhere he had some nice comments on Beyonce, which permitted him to dance badly to the crowd’s delight, and rather patchier material on footballers and phone sex that went down an obvious route. Quite how much of this will end up in the tour he’s presumably trying for, and while the writing is understandably shaky, he does have an impressive stage manner.

Reviewing Adam Bloom is always redundant, as he offers his own ultra-nerdy biopsy on every moment of his set as it progresses, even down to explaining how he’s slowed his pace to adapt to the ‘jazz club’ feel of this small venue. Not that you’d know he was more relaxed if you hadn’t seen him before, as his fidgety style fizzes with nervous energy.

Bloom is one of the circuit’s best joke craftsmen, always wrong-footing expectations, switching earnest set-ups about his wife and child into bold punchlines and tagging on endless witty asides. Nor will he ever settle for an obvious payoff, with a strong vein invention running through the writing.

Yet although the tone is always jokey, with anything fair game for a gag, even chatty audience members who he insults and charms in equal measure, there’s some heart to the set too. Despite cracking out the witticisms, Bloom reveals something of himself as an over-analytical geek who’s fallen on his feet.

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Published: 28 Sep 2011



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