Review: Delightful Sausage @ XS Malarkey

SKETCH duo, The Delightful Sausage, performed their unique style of abstract comedy at XS Malarkey in Manchester last night.

Fans of intellectual, thought provoking comedy would wince at this act, but if silly is your bag, then these two are bankers.

Chris Cantrill and Amy Gledhill form the duo, with Amy living up to the act’s name by relishing her role dressed as a hot dog. With the humble sausage being inherently funny, even to the most prudish, the audience are set off tittering immediately.

 

Silly comedy can easily nose dive and, despite its frenzied nature, needs a finesse in order to decipher the material most likely to work for a audiences.

Chris and Amy achieved this. Helped by inventing a clever vehicle for their jokes in the form of a mock seminar on internet advice, they gave themselves a structure for their seemingly random punch lines.

The duo bounced off each other well, with Amy providing the set ups for Chris, who’s deadpan delivery hit home the unusual, yet hilarious jokes.

Although residents of comedy clubs around Manchester, the duo will certainly find a home at Edinburgh this summer, with their comedy capturing the essence of the fringe festival.

 

Review: Athena Kugblenu @ XSMalarkey

Athena Kugblenu performed a set at Manchester’ regular comedy night, XS Malarkey, and in doing so demonstrated she has the ability to make her mark on the comedy scene.

Having received favourable reviews at last years Edinburgh Fringe, Athena has made more headway in this show and, despite being first on the bill, had the audience in stitches from the start.

A young London talent, Athena’s material is new, fresh and sharp. Her ‘resting bitch face’ routine is a hit, and by cleverly comparing relationships to a mobile phone in another skit, she is able to make a series of well thought out gags and innuendos.

Her exploration of racism, and particularly sexism, is refreshing, and she executes her jokes with the skill of an experienced comic.

Her persona resonates well with the slightly younger crowd, displaying an in trend attitude, while maintaining her relatability.

Athena is certainly one to watch, with her brand of clever observational comedy a win in the eyes of younger comedy fans.

Review: Tom Allen and Suzi Ruffell

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Salford welcomed, not one, but two rising talents on the comedy circuit in Tom Allen and Suzi Ruffell last night. With the Lowry Studio packed out the room wasn’t quite big enough for the two of them, but that in no way compromised the quality.

Knock about banter I think best describes the start of the show, with both comics making off the cuff jokes in tandem. It is clear from the outset that both possess a quick wit, and their obvious friendship helps the audience warm to them almost immediately.

With Ruffell leaving the stage momentarily, Allen introduces her to perform her solo set by starting a Mexican wave style of applause originating from the back corner. With the performance dynamic shifted, Ruffell is able to fully show off her hilarious personality.

Ruffell is from a working class family in Portsmouth, an upbringing which floods her act with fantastic material. Her charm echoes that of Danny Dyer and Micky Flanagan, but pigeon holing her like this is an injustice as she is far more versatile.

She tells stories of her family getting through tough times, but always with a refreshing positive outlook. Her buoyant attitude to life rubs off on the audience, and is a welcome contrast to the despairing outlook many comics take.

Energy and wholehearted commitment is never stifled in Ruffell’s performance; her illustration of characters is fantastic and, alongside funny quips, make excellent anecdotes.

One anecdote stood out. An encounter on Ruffell’s doorstep with a Jehovah’s Witness was always going to end up in a fiery encounter for a gay woman despite her best intentions to remain polite. It says something about Ruffell’s character however, that she managed to turn this into a humorous routine.

Ruffell is the new face of working class comedy, her humour is down to earth and instantly relatable. Her story about her free bar incident fully highlights this.

Coming out after the interval, suited and booted, Tom Allen’s confidence resonates brightly. As it should, this was very much his audience.

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The camp comic started by cleverly twisting the things straight people tend to say when first meeting a gay person.

Allen is a naturally funny stand up, his presence on stage exudes humour and every time he opens his mouth he has the audience cracking up

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His dry, yet camp style of delivery is fresh and new. His jokes, quick and sometimes subtle, match his persona brilliantly.

 

His set centres around one particular occasion at a party when he became trapped in a bathroom, but a shiny new bathroom at least. He dips in and out of this one anecdote throughout his set, which helped him wring out the humour from the dire situation.

Allen commands a room expertly and, despite his exquisite word choice in jokes, it’s his physical humour that gets the biggest laughs. Exploiting awkward humour by putting a leg up on a chair, or leaning on a table that’s slightly too low, has the audience in stitches.

Referencing previous routines from earlier in a show is common for comedians, but Allen’s throwback to past jokes goes above and beyond as he did this for Ruffell’s gags as well. It was impressive, not only because it showed he paid attention during the earlier set, but also because it helps establish both comics as a team.

Although Allen stated that he has little innuendo in his show compared to other gay comedians, there is still a degree of naughtiness. His constant assurances that his benign statements are not innuendos in fact create the innuendo to waves of laughter.

The show is a superb mix of styles with both comics bouncing off each other extremely well. The variation in material is also impressive, as it would be far easier for both comedians to simply fulfil their stereotypes.

Ruffell and Allen provide plenty of side-splitting laughs in a show that will please everyone.

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Tour picks no.7: Justin Moorhouse People and Feelings

With northern charm on tap, Justin Moorhouse comes in at seven in my recommendations for comedians currently on tour.

His material is instantly relatable, almost as though you’re having a laugh with him down the pub. However, his execution is what sets him apart. Once the laughter starts he rolls with it expertly, adding jokes to the anecdote to create the belly laughs.

There’s always a dig at someone from the Mancunian, but his friendly tone makes it impossible to be offended. No one’s ever been fat shamed by a teddy bear, and Justin is just a teddy bear.

His new show was performed at the Edinburgh fringe and with the 46 year-old well versed in touring, as well as numerous appearances on TV, tickets offer excellent value.

Check out his dates here, with shows running up to February.

Thanks for reading, and look out for the next in the countdown.

 

Tour picks no. 9: Sam Simmons Not a People Person

Next in the countdown is Sam Simmons. He’s possibly the silliest comedian currently touring. The Australian’s material is refreshing however, very different from mainstream stand up but despite this he’ s popped up on several TV shows including 8 out of 10 cats and Room 101.

If you like your jokes to have structure and make sense then maybe Simmons isn’t for you. He appeals to anyone with a childish sense of humour, the type of things that adults shouldn’t be laughing at.

He stretches the tools available to a stand up comedian, making novel use of props, clipboards and voiceovers. He also exploits his physical features, much like other comedians, but Simmons has considerably more to go off which I don’t think’s rude to say.

Simmons likes to mess with his audience, particularly when his material doesn’t quite land, with his aussie hard edge and, like anyone from that part of the world, he’s great at swearing.

 

If you like absurd humour then check out his tour dates and as always thanks for reading, look out for number 8 coming soon.

 

Tour Picks No.10: Miles Jupp Songs of Freedom

Kicking off my list of top stand ups currently on tour is the disdainful comedy of Miles Jupp. Always with a gripe to get off his chest, Miles cracks audiences up with his middle class loathing.

He’s appeared on a wealth of panel shows and played many roles in film and TV, most notable being Balamory in which he played Archie the inventor, brandishing the delightful pink sweater and kilt combo.

Turn of phrase and carefully chosen expressions of wit drive the laughter in his sets. An undertone of condescension only adds to the comedy. His stand up has earned him spots on the coveted Live at The Apollo and Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow.

He’s not a gag man, instead he crafts anecdotes to display his annoyances at the world, which are often very relatable. He’ll then exaggerate his privileged background to rise above his audience, maintaining an amusing allure.

If you like your comedy more laid back and less intense, his new show is certainly worth considering. Check out his tour dates. Tickets range from between £17 and £20.

No.9 in the countdown coming tomorrow, thanks for reading.

Review: James & Seaburn – Pigeon Trousers

James & Seaburn

[First published on Quays News 18/07/16]

SKETCH double act James & Seaburn performed their very first preview of their new show Pigeon Trousers at the King’s Arms last night (July 16). I was there for us to see the show that will be making its way up to Edinburgh next month.

The King’s Arms is a lively pub perfect for comedy, however, James & Seaburn would have had the right to be a little aggrieved with the pokey studio they had been given, far from ideal for their show full of props and swift costume changes.

Pigeon Trousers is the double acts second show at the Greater Manchester Fringe and consists of a mix of songs, sketches with bits of stand up and improvisation thrown in. The title of the show is meaningless; in no way is it a bird fashion show, but it sums up the sporadic jumps between contrasting sketches rather well.

Both comics are accomplished musicians, but strike the balance of songs to sketches well. Ian Seaburn appears to be truly at home with a guitar around his neck and Nicola James has a voice that many a professional singer would be proud of.

One musical sketch that stands out focusses on an all mythical horse glam rock band called Rockin’ Horses. The costumes alone are funny and the unique idea allows for a wealth of character based jokes which are delivered superbly. The characters reappear to conclude the show, however, the song didn’t work on this particular night due to the fact that it was the first time they had performed it together.

Many of the sketches contained the idea of bringing either inanimate objects or animals to life by giving them a human perspective. A pair of socks that went through a break up, a hand bag and dagger moaning about securing film roles, a poem from a cat and of course the Rockin’ Horses are all inventive ideas that are performed with high energy and enthusiasm.

A call back to an earlier sketch at the end of the show is one of the most surreal moments, but the twisted logic it derives from is a hilarious piece of sketch writing. The homemade costumes presented a side-splitting image that sticks in the memory.

There’s no getting away from the fact that the show is silly. The duo know this better than anyone, their smirks throughout the show indicating that they themselves love this type of comedy. They hilariously allude to the silliness of the show when they seemingly attempt to perform a serious section about hoe some idioms contradict each other. The explanation that ensues uses dubious mathematics and is done at a comical speed to ensure maximum stupidity is achieved.

Tonight’s show wasn’t slick, and even though it was a first preview and you would allow a wide margin for error, the two experienced comics missed the professionalism mark by a distance. Improvisation held the show together but in a way the mistakes and mishaps added to the mishmash feel of the show.

As was said at the end, the duo learnt a great deal from the first outing of their show. The sketch ideas are unique and although eccentric, they are easy to follow with good jokes, and a smattering of clever puns. With more efficient transitions and stronger assurance in their performance, Pigeon Trousers has potential to be a big hit in Edinburgh and beyond.

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