Read my zealous review of the Laughing Boy Comedy Club’s gig on 11th June, as published on WOW Arts Magazine, why don’t you?
Laughing Boy Comedy Club at Chatham’s Brook Theatre is a regular gig on the second Thursday of the month, boasting some of the best up-and-coming and ‘arrived’ names on the UK comedy circuit. Coral Brown went down to this month’s gig on 11 June, and discovered a line-up glittering with comedy talent which delivered on its promise of a sterling night out
The evening’s host, Kevin McCarthy, is an old school comic; sharp, robust and lively. He’s never too far from a blue joke, so I strapped in for some good old fashioned smut. In a quick-witted exchange with an audience member at the back, he spouted a plethora of bawdy quips off the top of his head at tap-dancing tempo. I would go in to more detail about what these quips were, but they belong within the walls of an adults-only comedy club. Each of his outros to the comics after their sets was glazed with genuine warmth, which is a rare quality in club comedy compering. Warming up the crowd at the start of the gig was a sizeable task, but the design of the venue isn’t ideal: the ceilings are high and the chairs spaced far apart, so the laughter wasn’t as infectious as it could be. Of course it’s always a bit frosty during the first section of any show, but luckily the booker made a wise choice for the first act.
On shuffled character act Tina T’urner Tea Lady, an elderly tea lady convinced that she’s Tina Turner as she reminisces about the golden years. She shook up the room, wading in to the iciest realms of the audience to liven it up by propping her foot on men’s thighs and demanding they touch her leg in a raspy American accent. Suddenly the audience came online, with guttural laughter echoing from all corners of the room. Her character’s voice seemed drenched in all the booze and cigarettes you’d expect an ageing diva to have guzzled.
There’s something ineffably funny about a wigged-up tea lady slowly shimmying towards you through the crowd. I saw Tina T’urner Tea Lady in the finals of the New Act of The Year awards in 2014, and she’s also the winner of Best Newcomer of 2014 in the London Cabaret Awards, so this act is clearly a choice example of (literally) hands-on live entertainment. Exactly what the doctor ordered.
Next was Benji Waterstones, a softly spoken gentleman from Hull. I’ve seen Benji in smaller gigs in London, and I’ve always been fond of his delicately complex and subtle writing. His phrases are marinated in character, referring to his male member as his “John Thomas”. He coyly apologises for being vulgar before starting a lewd anecdote, which is inevitably charming. His understated presence is complemented by his warm dulcet tones, making the polite crudeness even funnier. Last year he was a finalist in the most prestigious competition for new acts, ‘So You Think You’re Funny’: past finalists include Josh Widdicombe, Joe Wilkinson and Sarah Millican, so the competition obviously has a keen eye for talent, and Benji is no exception.
Our headline act was Pete Johansson, a veteran Canadian comedian with myriad accolades to his name, who ended the show in fireworks. He talked with unstoppable rhythm and intellectual agility, darting from his nationality to hay fever to Catholicism, only pausing for laughter. His act is both hilarious and edifying in the same stroke, so it’s twice as nutritious. Everyone in the crowd was under scrutiny; he identified a split in the room between the left and the right, both physically and politically, and bounced his jokes off this split like a deft table tennis champion. In Pete’s act you can really see the mastery of the form of live stand-up comedy, of being in the moment and fully engaging a diverse crowd of people by manipulating the energy in the room, rather than just rattling off rehearsed jokes. Pete’s intricate needlework tied together a callback to Kevin McCarthy’s earlier audience interaction, and sewed in some new jokes he read on his phone, all met with rushes of laughter. Wicked skillz.
This line-up at the Laughing Boy Comedy Club was clearly a corker and next month’s is no different. On Thursday 9 July 2015 the bill promises the deadpan subversions of Dave Green, the offbeat nonsense of Benny Boot and the sharp-witted charisma of Stuart Goldsmith MC.