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Thursday, March 22

Long Live Comedy

One of the organisers of Tuesday night's gig is very disappointed that I haven't yet blogged about it. I'd accuse him of being narcissistic, but, to be honest, one of the reasons I hadn't yet written anything is that I got distracted looking at a whole bunch of photos of myself, which were sent to me from last Thursday night's gig. I look fat and sweaty in those.

I'll get on with the description of the gig last night, as far as I remember it.

Long Live Comedy is a gig I wish had started about 3 years ago. In some ways it's the same sort of gig that I have such fond memories (and a few recordings) of, which ran for about a year at the Chillingham Arms pub in Heaton/Byker. The formula is simple. You take a bunch of newer/newish acts, occasionally add in a passing very experienced comedian (not Tuesday - that would be claimng that it was me, and I'm not in the league I'm describing), you cultivate an audience and a "scene" and then you just have fun. What unfolds should be eclectic, should have some really dead responses to bad jokes and some really enthuastic responses to cracking lines. That's how comedy should be. It should be a safe environment to have a laugh in.

Now, I'm not going to drop my memories of the Chillingham Arms, just because I had a great night last night. The amazing Gavin Webster, MCing a full and excited room, with the one-off appearance of Ross Noble, for instance, would be almost impossible to top. However, the past is gone and what's important is what you make of the present. From what I've read of this gig, which recently got voted best comedy club on Chortle (which means comedians like it), it's a cracker. I had high hopes for this, and wish I'd been living in Newcastle to support it all the way along its progression.

The guys who run it are three. Two of these folks are people I knew from the Chillingham days. One is someone whom I only know through his blog and podcasts. How geeky is that!? I really felt like I knew him from the off, which is nice. I knew his style and found no surprises in the in-the-flesh meeting. That's the beauty of the net, I suppose.

Anyway, I'll do my quick run-down of what I remember happening.

James Christopher, who spoke very loudly to me when he said hello, as though he was MCing his meeting me again, was a nice MC. He had some material which worked nicely, and some which fell flat. That was okay, though. The room could take it because they liked him.

Tom Mitchell was first on. His well-written material and delivery went down well after a slowish start. The initial MCing had been so easy going that I'd forgotten that the room would still need an opening act that could wear the process of warming up an audience at the start of the night. Tom did it with aplomb.

Then Don Moses came out with a bizarre football oriented and slightly surrealist set. He ran out of steam, missed a bit of his set out and got off the stage promptly. People seemed to enjoy his bumbling presence, though, and he's forging a style for himself.

A break followed, and then Pete Thompson proved that his MCing skills and improvisation outweighs his rapid-generation-of-new-thematic-material. The audience really liked him and he had a knack for phrasing things in an off-beat way which made the most of his naturally funny speech patterns. He introduced Ed Gamble, who came and stole the show. Act of the night. A work of high-writing-craftsmanship full of linguistic tricks and plain silliness, I wanted to hear more of Ed's stuff. Brilliant.

Lee Chamberlain had a more hit and miss set, his geekiness and dyslexia causing the audience to, perhaps, show more pity sometimes than his jokes required. However, there were some excellent jokes in his set and it's all grist to the mill.

After the second break, the gag competition yielded some beautiful entries and then some fat man came on with a guitar.

The audience was made of a good combination of acts, regulars and random people (admittedly, I'd brought some fo the random people).

I had a great time and my throat is sore from some of the bellowing I did in the name of laughter. (Bellowing laughs out, mainly.)

So. Long Live Comedy!

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