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And he used to be such a nice, quiet boy

Lights, camera, laughter

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With the world the way it is at the minute we all need a laugh from time to time. Comedy clubs have sprung up all over the country as an alternative to the inauspicious working men’s clubs where the comedians of the seventies plied their art.

Showcase cinemas have not been slow to notice this and they made a very substantial investment in live entertainment. It has not escaped their notice that people are starting to stay away from cinemas because of the recession and the explosion of illegal downloading.

Martin, the General Manager of Showcase Coventry, was there to greet me personally and show me around the new area. It soon became clear what they meant by substantial investment. A whole auditorium had had the seats ripped out and replaced with cabaret style tables and chairs. They had a good selection of food to order and a mobile bar set up. This was clearly a serious investment to them.

The food looked to be of fairly good quality and was obviously hot. I didn’t have any myself as we had eaten before we came out. Never mind, we will know next time. The beer was served in plastic pint glasses and was far from cheap. The wine, at least, came served in proper wine coolers. So far so good.

Comedy shows never start on time, they start when they are ready. Comedians need a fair bit of preparation (or in some cases Dutch courage) as they have a lot to remember. It also gave people time to get in the mood, i.e. half-cut.

The compare was a northern lad, Dave Twentyman, who I later learned was an amateur boxer. A compare of comedy is never an enviable job, like being the first soldier to hit the beach. But he carried it off well, keeping the audience chuckling until the first act came on.

Steve Day, act number one, did a fair set. He told us about his time on the Cruise ships, trying to be funny to the nearly dead in what was basically a floating hearse. He told us about his African wife and five kids. Steve is also deaf, note the little ‘d’ in deaf, which means nearly but not quite. Deaf with a capital D means totally. So here we have a Journalist with a stutter reviewing a deaf comedian. Honestly it’s like the blind leading the… never mind. But was he funny? Yeah, not bad.

Our Dave came back on for ten minutes while half the crowd queued at the bar. Serving vast numbers of people from a portable bar is like towing a caravan in a mini. It can be done but never that quickly.

Act number two was a little Hindu guy called Dave Biswas. He started off with a few one-liners that were generally well received, but his material didn’t really cover the things that the crowd could relate to. He had not had the easiest life, suffering from something like Aspergers syndrome and he told us all about it. He became repetitive after a while and people lost interest. I think he needs to throw out most of his material and start again.

Our Dave returned, and he wasn’t slow in noticing the edgy mood of the crowd so he wasted no time in introducing the headlining act.

It is no exaggeration to say that Ivan Brackenbury saved the show. My better half said he reminded her “of that bald bloke with the long hair.” It took me a few minutes to work out that she was referring to Bill Bailey. I understood what she meant, Ivan’s act was mostly music driven. He played the part of a hospital disc jockey, something I suspect he did in real life. Ivan had excellent comic timing and could literally make a joke out of any song or ailment you can mention, usually both in the same sentence. He got the best response out of the audience, and left us feeling like the whole thing had been a worthwhile visit. Of all the acts, he is the one I expect to get his own series.

So the following night I managed to catch up with Dave Twentyman for a quick chat on Facebook, while the better half was engrossed in Dancing on Ice.

What was the best heckle you have ever had and what was your come-back?

I’ve been racking my head for ages trying to think of heckles I’ve had. But the only thing that sticks in my mind wasn’t a heckle as such,but it was bloody awkward.

It was in Jongleurs in Battersea. I was having a cracking gig,but these people sat at a table at the front kept chatting. So I thought I’d better sort it out. I said “hey, it’s not the telly this, I can see u when you’re talking”. The room fell silent & these people just stared at me. To bring the atmosphere back up I tried to engage them a bit by asking where they were from. “Rwanda” was the stern reply in this strong african accent (they were black) & I came straight back with “oh, it’s a good film that”, which got a massive laugh.

What do Northern comics have that Southerners don’t?

That’s a good question regarding the North/South thing. There’s no difference in quality but a Northern accent is so much more distinctive & it sounds friendlier. It’s much more difficult for a Southern comic to gig up North than it is for a Northerner to gig down South…which is good. Sod um, they live longer than us.

So if you want a change from watching saturday night telly and you live in the Coventry area why not check it out? More details are available here

Coventry Showcase on a map:


Written by Nick Gilmartin

January 23, 2011 at 8:37 pm

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nick Gilmartin, Nick Gilmartin. Nick Gilmartin said: Lights, camera, laughter: […]

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