Since it’s move to The New Red Lion, The Fortnight Club seems to have gone from strength to strength. Gone seem to be the days of gigs being cancelled at The Camden Head and now, every 2 weeks, there always seems to be a healthy crowd.
I had arranged to meet Bob at The King Eddie for a beer first, and we headed down to the venue around 8 and were joined by Rob and Richard. Ronnie Rigsby as ever was our host, celebrating 58 years in show business. Ronnie is an old music hall entertainer who has worked with all the greats, and contains just the right amount of charm and bitterness to be one of the best comperes I have seen on the circuit. His creator, Logan Murray used to work with Jerry Sadowitz, and it really shows. Logan now runs a well respected comedy course that some comedians that were on tonight had attended, which he said later makes him feel rather proud. For me, I don’t really mind what acts are on. I’d happily watch Ronnie rant and tell us tales of Princess Margaret and the grinning head of death all night.
Paddy Lennox came on first and was a good opening act. There was a slightly hack routine about the difference between cats and dogs (cats are bastards – dogs are stupid), but this was rescued by the observation that cats like to show their arseholes, and dogs will do anything to hide it.
I noticed on Twitter that Wendy Wason is playing with Tara Flynn tonight (Tuesday) but hadn’t heard her name before. Well, she was up next and she was Richard’s favourite act of the night. I thought she was pretty excellent too. Definitely someone I’ll see again.
Fortnight Club regular Tony Cowards came on next. He is best described as a west country version of Milton Jones or Gary Delaney, and as you can imagine, someone that relies on that many one liners has to write a hell of a lot of them, and on a new material night there’s no guarantee they’ll all work. They didn’t. But when a run of one liners fall flat, that’s funny in itself!
We had an interval. A good interval. A solid 3 stars.
In the second half we had Nathan Caton opening. I have seen him before, and he has a particular charm that makes him extremely likeable. He tried out a new routine about his West Indian grandmother coming to school to tell his teacher off in front of his class for giving the lactose-intolerant Nathan milk. All good stuff and I’d definitely recommend you see him.
Irish comedian Mark Swan was on next. This was also his first ever UK gig. He had spoken to Bob during the interval and asked if he minded being used in his act as his old headmaster. Bob had already attracted the attention of all the previous comedians so one more wasn’t going to hurt. So he pointed out his surprise that his old headmaster had turned up and that he was thrilled to see him. There were no other headmaster references till right at the end, and eventually the gag paid off. Oh, he did also show us that if you look at a map of Ireland on it’s side that it looks like a little dog.
Finally it was tonight’s headline act – Steve Hall. I had seen him a couple of times before. Once, I think as Fat Tuesday and once more recently at Sunday Hullabaloo at The Wilmington Arms. He’s a funny guy. His gag about telling people he was in a very low rated show on BBC3 went down well, as the lack of response or recognition of it had proved his point. I think there were about three We Are Klang fans who quietly whooped at that point. Anyway Steve is an excellent comedian and would definitely be worth the admission price alone.
Unusually for The Fortnight Club, it seemed very male tonight. Usually the performers are pretty evenly split between the sexes, and I think we like it like that. A slight disappointment at the lack of the advertised Holly Walsh, though I think the nature of new material nights mean that the line up can be rather fluid. People can drop out, and of course people can play unannounced. Ronnie mentioned that Lenny Henry had played before, but “never again – his autocue was terrible” – yes this is a true story. Lenny Henry has indeed done little gigs with autocues and a team of writers in attendance.
I’m sidetracked now. Oh yes, the lack of ladies. Mary Bourke wasn’t on tonight – another disappointment, but she has been bragging on Facebook that she is working in Bali so we’ll forgive her for that. So yes – more female comics next time please if you can please chaps.
Perhaps they’ve entered so many Funny Women competitions that they can’t afford the bus fare.