Machynlleth Comedy Festival April 2017

A festival I’ve been meaning to go to for many years, I finally got organised enough to attend ( just like Tedfest in Feb).

After managing to acquire a speeding ticket on the way there…just in such a rush to get there. Mach turned out to be a lovely trip to catch up with comedy mates, to see how a small and ambitious festival can work in a town with a 3,000 population in the middle of deepest Wales without compromising anything, whilst also being the first weekend away with the wife without the child, thanks grandparents ( who needed a holiday themselves after).

First up to see was Ed Aczel with a work in progress at the Bowling Club, if you’re going to go to a comedy festival, dive in first with the most challenging work you can find. I wasn’t disappointed on that score. Dryer than sunburnt sandpaper, this was a long hour which felt right at the start of a show shaping up. A nice impression of Michael Caine from the King of Anti-comedy won out  but it was a tough win for Ed and audience.

Next up Rob Deering in the canteen, if you had a comedy energy scale, Ed would be at one end, and Rob would def be near the top of the other, a great contrast in approach, which is always good to keep you on your toes. In truth, a very fun hours with lots of tricks with beat boxes and guitar playing, the lego song is a genuine classic whilst the coffee song refuses to leave my brain still.

David Trent offered another route to comedy heaven with the use of projectors and clever use of music. You can tell how well regarded someone is by the amount of other comic’s in the room, spotted here were Josie Long, Josh Widdicombe and John Robins to name but a few. A few technical hitches along the way but this show is now a lot slicker than the work in progress I saw in Leicester a couple of years ago. So much packed into it, he eventually ran out of time, the Johnny Johnny clip with Slayer is genuinely disturblingly funny.

Rounding off Day 1 was Scott Gibson, this was my favourite show of the day, he lures you in with some seemingly straight forward tales of stag do’s then pulls the rug from under ya with a real direction change, so many big laughs here and sometimes you’re thinking, should I really be laughing at this but his delivery is spot on. A great hour.

Day 1 over and apart from helping a man who had managed to lock himself in the back of his van it was back to the Centre of Alternative Technology  to catch up on a few years of sleep.

Day 2 and after catching up with ‘the scout hut’, all the Edinburgh/Leicester panellists and scouts over breakfast for comparing shows and must see’s, it was off for the comedy quiz, set by Mark Olver, 50 questions that ranged from post codes of comedy venues to times of trains you’d have to get when finishing a set, yeah that easy, but we only went and won, the ‘comedy shield of destiny! well done team. Not a bad start to the day.

First show up was meant to be Jo Neary but she had had to cancel, so we re-booked and plumped for George Egg and what a great choice, this turned out to be an inventive, very funny, gagged riddled show as far removed from a stand up set as you could get as George cooked 3 meals from his shed.  A very experienced comic.

Michael Legge and Caroline Mabey were up next for their ‘two stupids’, best described as a real knockabout session that had lots of highs and lulls as you’d expect. Michael Legge’s 1950’s diary extracts were splendid.  joyous nonsense.

Continuing in the joyous nonsense theme was Beth Vyse’s show about a story on a cruise ship, Jayne McDonald, losing your sass, lots of audience participation including some sort of conga out of the venue at one point. Beth totally went for it, there was no room for passengers on this show and her force of nature made it work.

Johnny and the Baptists followed at a packed Hyddgen or the school hall. A story about inequality, some songs, some lecturing and a very happy crowd. Comedy with a message, yes please.

Fern Brady at the Billiard room was up next, and this was about the most straight ahead stand up of the day from a very fine comic whose unafraid to tackle dark subjects with great skill. another hit.

Final show of the night was the mighty Josie Long, the show was called ‘Something better’ and this was the perfect ending to the evening and the festival, Josie was enjoying herself so much that she was on stage when we went in and after her show carried on for a long while, someone who really embraces life.

So that was that, so many other shows we wanted to pack in from Phil Coopers welsh show to Phoebe Walsh, Johnny Pelham, Jarred Christmas, Steffun Alun, John Shuttleworth, Elenor Tiernan, John Kearns, Laura Lexx, Becky Brunning, Spencer Jones, Rachel Parris, Charlie Baker, Sara Pascoe, Bec Hill, Paul F Taylor, Pierre Novellie, Lazy Susan, Ian Smith, Seymour Mace, Phil Jerrod, Elf Lyons, Phil Kay etc…but that’s probably another two festivals! oh well. next time. Mach, we will be back.

over and out



Submarine Comedy Club – arises – April 17

So it was back to business for the Submarine Comedy Club at a new home after a year on sabbatical. The refurbished Granary at the George Hotel is perfect for the type of in yer face comedy frome folk like, a real gem.

Tonight’s gig was in aid of the Jamie Mines fund appeal,

and continues out philosophy of supporting local causes and giving something back which remains a central aim of Submarine Comedy, pay it forward etc.

Anyway, onto the comedy and first on tonight was our new resident MC, the magnificent Sally Anne Hayward, who had done her research on local issues and was soon finding the funny  with a debate on the Victoria park toilets vote, the steiner school and giving blood. Naturally funny, she warmed up the crowd nicely for our first act Tom Glover ( replacing the President Obonjo, who’d had to drop out at short notice), Tom is a Submarine favourite and is turning into a fine comic, lots of new material, particular favourite is the little boys career advice. A great start.

In the middle section, Sally continued the banter with Glady’s the psychologist and brought on two newer acts. We are passionate about bringing new, up and coming acts to town we think are going places, see previous acts we’ve brought to town; Jenny Collier, Alfie Brown, Jon Robins, Russell Hicks, Laura Lexx and one certain Jon Richardson (whatever happened to him?) and so tonight, Louise Leigh and Tony Davidson were on in the middle, Louise went on first, barely a year into her comedy career and she exudes a tremendous amount of confidence, lovely jokes about MILF’s went down well with the audience and a great joke about teaching kids swimming was my fav. Next up was Tony who kept the energy going with a fantastic set, a gifted storyteller and even a pun run thrown in the set which even when getting a few groans was mixed with some big laughs. Two very impressive sets.

Finally, onto our headliner, Nick Page, to hit the stage. Someone whose been at the top of our ‘must book’ list for a long time now. I’ve seen Nick a few times but tonight it feels like he’s added another dimension to his comedy or maybe I just hadn’t noticed it before, which is his ability to present his set whilst also deconstructing it at the same time without dropping a beat or losing a laugh. An acknowledged accomplished storyteller, this was a master class in comedy. My fav was the bit about men of a certain age collecting bits of wood for no discernable reason, ahem. But the politics of everything he doesn’t believe in and the planning laws in Gloucestershire were also well mined for laughs.

and that was that. Thanks to all the acts, professionals all. Its nights like this that make it all worthwhile. Looks like we’ve raised approx. £110 for the Jamie Mines fund. well done everyone.

If you missed out, do not fear as the Submarine returns on Monday 10th July with the always raucous hi-jinks that is the ‘Best of the West’ competition, as part of the Frome festival.


Stand Up for Cider 2017 – Heat 2 (March)

So heat 2 of SUFC was upon us and 9 acts lined up in what turned out to be an extremly strong heat, helped along by a very busy venue and the stage being moved from the side to the end of the room, which I thought helped keep the energy of the room much better.

First up, after resident MC Wayne Beese had warmed up the crowd nicely, was Nathan Webb who did well in that traditional difficult opening slot, he kept to a good time and has some nice lines, good start, Coral Halliwell up next got some good laughs and managed to keep the crowd onboard with some risque material, again didn’t overplay her time which has tended to go against acts in the comp. Third of five in the first half was Riordan Deehan Jackson who went down a storm, some fantastic lines and call backs, and two rounds of applause during his set, probably one of the best reactions I’ve seen at the competition, next up was Mark Wall, who left me abit confused with an opening piece referring to the MC, it was obvious that a huge amount of work had gone into the writing of this set but somehow it didn’t connect with the audience enough and wasn’t helped by having to follow Riordan, and at 10 minutes was the longest set of the night.

Final act of the first set was Neil Braeman, a set I really enjoyed, great story about a homeless man ( which along with sleeplessness, seemed to be a recurring theme in the sets tonight), which had some good topping lines. Good first half.

Second half saw Steffan Evans open with a strong set, good use of appearance, which was offbeat, second up was Sal Drummond who focused on her autism, some good lines but not enough punchlines left the audience wanting more, and they certainly got that with act 3 Nick West, great energy, great lines and a very strong performance, final act of this heat Joey Cannon had a tough job following Nick, that he managed to top Nicks performance with a shambling anti comedy routine of misplaced jokes, poetry and impressions, had the audience in stitches.

Whilst the count was being conducted, Tony Davidson ( already a finalist) popped in for a quick set to remind the audience that the final is shaping up to be very strongly contested this year. Headliner Josh Pugh, english comedian of the year 2016, topped the evening off beautifully with some lovely material.

In the end, the heat was won clearly by Riordan, closely followed by Joey with Steffan Evans third and Nick West as the wild card.

Only one final heat remains in May.

Stand Up for Cider 2017 – Heat 1 – Jan.

Back for a third year, the stand up for cider competition has a healthy habit of throwing up some very promising budding comedians and this heat was no exception. With a new MC in the appearance of Wayne Beese controlling things and having endless fun with the audience, the 8 acts gave it their best shot. First up in the difficult opening slot was Joshua Elton, obviously a musician with a name like that and the welsh busker did very well and connected with the audience straight away, lovely oasis rewrite and references to Neil Diamond. Em Coombs came next and different pace kept the audience on their toes, strong first half of set undone abit by going over time. Mark Dennett was on next with, again another change in comedy direction with a whole set concentrating on the rules of office tea drinking, very well observed and written another very impressive set which James Micic did well to keep the laughs going with an excellent set, very lyrical, some lovely poetry/more rapping and he wrapped up a very intriguing first half, 4 very different sets, all getting the laughs. It was going to be a tough one to call.

2nd Half and Wayne had the crowd in the palm of his hand. First up was Danny Clives, and again, another impressive set, having previously gigged with Danny, he’s def gone up another level in terms of delivery and material.  Costa Lukaris was next up and again another sharpe turn away from straight ahead jokes into a raconteur style story, which while fewer jokes still had plenty of laughs and was very engaging. Adrian Wetherick bamboozled the audience, not sure they knew what hit them or what was coming next but the final act of the evening Alf (or Chris Leworthy) had some fantastic visual props which even when they didn’t quite come off, still got laughs, my favourites included the driving lisc and passport but you’ll have to check him out to see what I mean.

Whilst all the votes were totted up, another Wayne headlined, Wayne the Weird proved a canny choice with lots of set piece magic and ending up in a mankini is kinda expected in Taunton on a Friday night! Great set.

With the final votes in – Alf was declared winner, Danny Clives Runner up and Joshua Elton progressed to the final as the wild card, I think they deserved it but easily a couple more could have gone through…tough heat.

Heat 2 due 31st March. Looking forward to that one…be seeing you.

Rounding Up the comedy

So here’s a little round up of all the comedy I’ve been in and at recently.

First Up was a walk on part or SA, supporting artiste darlings, in a comedy pilot called the Mayoress, written by Brenda Gilhooly, it has all the makings of a classic. Thus a long but rewarding day spent at Bromleys old town hall amongst a cast including  Jack Dee, Michele Collins, Romesh Ranganathan, Harry Hill and for those of you with Cbeebies on in the household, Captain Sinker from Swashbuckle. I do some working around looking busy and toasting people in my guise as a local government officer, a part I was born to play. It was a great experience and I met some lovely generous people. As someone writing a sitcom myself, it was eye opening to see just how much work goes into just one episode and how many different people are involved behind the camera. Really looking forward to the premiere.

Next up a couple of days later was the opening party for ‘the Bill Murray’ public house, which is part of Angel Comedy Club down there in darkest Essex Road. Walking there I bumped into an old fella who happened to a heavily bearded John Bishop no less. Wow, You’ll never guess who I just bumped into I said to my mate who was waiting outside the pub, John Bishop he replied, me too. One of the promoters overheard us, which way was he heading lads, he’s playing here tonight and he’s lost. oops! Another great night and sets from various acs including John, who was doing some very early set building for his arena tour next year…now that’s pressure, knowing you have a date in the diary when you’re playing to 10,000 odd and here you are starting from scratch. He told the one about everyone being confused as to why Argentina had invaded scotland during the falklands war…I was telling that one when I was 14..whose ahead of the game! Also on the bill was Luisa Omielan whose next show could well be called ‘Politics bitches’, a great set and I was suitably impressed, she even found time at the end to officially open the toilets.The Bill Murray could well become the comedians hang out venue in london, it was great to bump into Phillip Simon currently ‘Jewish comedian of the year.’

The next night saw me over in Soho at the Soho Theatre of course, to catch Richard Gadd’s all conquering Edinburgh show ‘Monkey see, Monkey Do,’ which is a great show which manages to include alot of treadmill running, therapy conversations, mental health issues, masculinity, it packs a punch but has enough laughs throughout, especially the joke about mistakenly having put the show in the comedy section of the edinburgh listings. Much as I enjoyed it, I was also very relieved as when I started to read about the show, it felt like some similar comedy devices,  I use or want to develop were in use, the projector, the musical interludes, the voiceovers, having seen the show, its probably the closest in presentation to the type of comedy I went to move more into, its far removed from the one man and a mike just talking but equally, it’s completely different from my ideas, and in the same way I went in trepidation to check out Dave Gorman or David Trent, who people have pointed me towards, I was doubly happy. Catch this show if you can.

Last on the comedy tour was a trip to see Mark Thomas on my home turf of Frome in his Red Shed show. This was a comedy love letter to a place that obviously had a big influence  on Mark’s  political awakening, the Red Shed is still a vibrant place in uncertain places. Thomas remains a brilliant storyteller who brings characters to larger than life and in this one this brings to assist in the process.  Another show to catch.

Good to see some comedy  that was all thrilla and no filla, onwards and upwards.


Stand Up for Cider – Heat 2 – 8th April

So here we are again at heat no 2 of the Taunton based Stand up for cider competition and it was a busy one, with 12 acts, MC Chris Walker and headliner Rory O’Hanlon. So lets just get on with the night itself as it turned out to be an interesting night;

First up in the difficult opening slot was Ade Bowen, a newish act from Weston Super Mare, whose definitely improved but still finding his comic rhythm, confident onstage and some nice gags on Lucozade, star wars and the facebook/tits joke got a big laugh, got a few groans but everyone seemed to have some sort of one liner/pun in their set. so a good start.

Next up Rob Cauwood, probably the oldest act on tonight but who bounded onstage with the swagger of comics half his age. Immediately referenced the audience set up in the front row, 15 or so seats that ran from young to old, a very smart observation, some steady material, a comic very comfortable onstage and chatted to the audience well and a strong MC.

Louise Leigh, a very engaging act who connected with the audience and you could feel the bar rising. MOCBATF….you’ll just have to go and see her live to know what that’s about. Got the first big round of applause, loved her voice of organic veg reference and the observation re autism was equal parts funny and brutal and if she can write material of that quality, there’s a bright comedy future there for the taking.

Ant Burn was next up and this was a much more assured performance from Ant, a west country Geordie, the funny one liners about being a bad dad are there but he seems on the cusp of breaking out of that with longer stories, the cats ass routine was excellent and points a way to the future and a visit to dragons den aswell!

Tony Davidson, 5th act of the first section and the Welshman from Splott, started off slowly with a reference to marmite but then took that by the scruff of the neck and gave a mini masterclass on how to wring a lot of laughs from just one thing, smelling of yeast, was my top pick of the night. simply excellent.

The final act of the first section was Kathryn Ferns, a Canadian, a good act, plenty of the fish out of water material you would expect but I think she struggled abit having to follow Tony and the energy that had been built up and also 6 acts in one section was pushing it for attention spans and I think some audience members were getting twitchy for the bar. An assured performer, who I got the feeling that tonight didn’t come across as strongly as they would be normally.

Suitably refreshed we dashed back for Section 2. and kicking this off was Mark Hurman, another comedian from the Weston Super Mare ( is there something in the water over there, the answer is yes and southwest water are investigating). Mark seemed to hit a perfect comedy note and got some big laughs off the crowd and surfed the comedy wave. His Egyptian cotton joke is a particular fav, clever and funny as f**k. Had him joint second.

David Wroe was on next and as a newish act finding his feet, probably suffered abit in comparison to the more experience Mark but he had some nice stories and liked the north/south wales comparison.

Matt Potter hit the stage next, Essex boy Matt bought a lot of local support and got some big laughs of some laddy material re easyjet, lots of nervous energy, he prowled the stage, good to see another new act finding his voice and persona.

Harvey Hawkins was next up, the fact that Harvey even got to the gig tonight was outstanding and well beyond the call of comedy duty ( promoters, take note, Harvey will get to the gig. no matter what).  after breaking down enroute and getting to the venue virtually just before going on, he brought a very different tone and direction to proceedings. This was refreshing, loved the stories about his mum and facebook and swopping the sugar, shades of Milton jones in deadpan delivery, an interesting character act.

Darryl J Carrington was the penultimate act, bristol based comedian had some great visual jokes, the noises and acting out having sex infront of the mirror was very funny and even more so when he kept referencing back to it. got a big laugh with it.

Final act of the competition was Katie Pritchard who bounded on the stage with a lettuce and mixed high energy bounding round the stage with amazing singing, uke playing, great use of many lettuces? original and a great act to finish the heat.

My voting went – Tony Davidson 1st, Louise Leigh and Mark Hurman joint 2nd and Katie Pritchard 3rd..

The audience vote went, Louise L winner ( by a clear vote) Tony Davidson 2nd and Katie Pritchard 3rd and all 3 go into the final in July. which along with the 4 finalists from heat 1, makes for a very interesting line up. just heat 3 to go.

A very strong heat and what was pleasing was that every act brought something that connected, there wasn’t one act who did badly.

I’m just surprised in the week of all the tax avoidance scandals, no one act made any reference to it?

Rory O’Hanlon headlined and was suitably choice to bring the night to a laughing ending.

Shout out must go to Chris Walker who is just perfect for these sort of evenings, funny man who knows where to find the comedy in the audience…hit the spot with the brother and sister out for night out…this is Somerset!





Xmas at the Cheesy Grin – 22nd Dec

So one of my new years resolutions is to write and post gig reviews much quicker…so far so good.

On paper this was a very busy comedy line up, but as usual with comedy promoting, this started to unravel the night before with 4…acts, yes 4 acts dropping out, including the headliner! 3 were open spots and had various reasons, which I don’t have a problem with. However, when the headliner drops out without a word despite constant updates, press work and generally lots of comedy promoting, you have to question both the professionalism and general lack of good manners of said act. I’m not one to name names but I don’t think there will ever be a situation where I would book Ava Vidal for anything in this lifetime or the next anytime soon. I know full well, we are a miniscule set up, many miles from that there London but when you agree a fee with someone, then if you decide you are no longer coming, have the decency to let the club know you’re not coming. rant over. I must say though, most acts are bloody marvellous.

I had already decided to give myself the night off MCing duties in order to view the night through an audience members eyes (although the audience member wasn’t best pleased and asked for his eyeballs back), having the night off though, gave me an opportunity to bring in Tom Glover as MC who in my opinion is one of the top South west comic’s, and he proved yet again to be the glue that held the whole evening together getting the crowd onside with an easy delivery.

We still had a very healthy bill and with some last minute shout outs we added a new headliner in the shape of Pierre Hollins coming in from Brighton and local lad Glen Burford who stood in for the open spot.

A torrential downpour on the night..very unfestive, didn’t help my mood but a nice full house in the cheesy grain bar certainly did. Tom immediately got to work on the audience, sorting the wheat from the Pats..well one lady called Pat who identified herself very early on that she was going to be part of the nights precedings. What I’d forgotten to mention to Tom was that there were some audience members who had recently attended our comedy bootcamp and Pat was one of them.

Opening act and local minstrel Martin Dimery got things going with some lovely comedy songs, something I’m keen to see more of, as I know some very good comedy musicians. A snarling Johnny Lydon and a perfect Mick Jagger livened things up and it will be interesting to see how this new show follows up on the success of Shakespeare Rattle and Roll.

Glen Burford and Wayne Beese completed our middle section, two very different acts, which is something I think works well. Glen is probably one of the more physical acts I’ve seen and very high energy. He use’s his height – 7′ 2 (seems that tall) and his skinniness to great comedy effect, mining every possible joke out. A nice start to the middle section.

Wayne on the other hand, takes the pace down to a slow funeral pace, no even slower than that. and delivered the set of the night. Having gigged with Wayne the previous year, I knew the audience were in for a treat, a really funny act with the confidence , timing and delivery along with some beautiful material, tonight, he did that but also took on Pat and her side kick to great effect. Many people get referred to as deadpan, well Wayne Beese is the real deal, deadpan of Dudley certainly didn’t disappoint. As one audience member said to me in the interval, ‘When are you going to get him back again?’ that is the best compliment to an act in my book. The person then asked to borrow a tenner which I had to demur.

Headliner Pierre kept the good view going and was the consummate professional, getting plenty of laughs and bringing out the electric guitar for a few numbers to wrap things up. Another lovely evening and from a near catastrophe we had a great night…comedy promoters have a shorter lifespan than base jumpers without parachutes…but its fun whilst you’re in the air.