The key ingredients to any successful comedy show have to be a friendly audience, a boisterous atmosphere and a packed venue, all of which the Showcase Show had. The host, Neil Delamere, entertained us with fast-paced and enthusiastic Irish banter, telling mischievous tales whilst standing alert, almost swaying with excitement.
Alan Francis then slowed the pace in his role as the ‘bitter, fat, middle-aged bastard.’ His sex jokes were unoriginal and consequently a bit hit-and-miss. However, he was a suspenseful story-teller, appropriately flipping his hair as he was so ‘proud to have kept [it] in his middle age’. His stories were told from a self-deprecating, middle-class perspective and consisted of various meetings he’d had with people - usually rougher and tougher than himself - with descriptive characterisations and vigorous accents to match.
Nightmarish Bobby Mair was the most interesting act. Portraying himself as a creepy psychopath-cum-stoner with limp hand gestures and a hunched back, he rounded off each line with an eerie, prolonged glare at the audience that only caused more ripples of perhaps nervous laughter. His material was dark, covering autoeroticism, suicide and babies. I wouldn’t have wanted to be caught grinning at one of his jokes let alone belly-laughing away like I was. His wacky and original style of delivery prevented his black humour from coming across as cheap, shock-factor gags.
Next up was Tom Binns; with long luscious locks, clad in purple harem pants and a Jesus-style shirt, modelling himself as Ian D. Montfort, he plays a spirit medium who is not only visibly struggling with his predictions but who is also pretty mean. In a deceptively calm, therapeutic drawl, he would humiliate both himself and the audience, guessing names and dates and relatives incorrectly and making ‘spiritually informed’ judgements about audience members’ odours and/or relationship statuses.
Where D. Montfort’s interactive style made the audience squirm, the interaction in the last act with Patrick Monahan was heart-warming but not, unfortunately, terribly comedic. He began his set by hugging various people in the front few rows and picking up someone’s adolescent son and moving him to a different seat. Although he had an enjoyable and engaging presence and had no trouble getting on with everyone, all the TLC swallowed up his material, of which there is little to be said for.
This delightful afternoon slot at the Pleasance seems to be aimed at everyone. It’s got all the classic regional banter and the embarrassing anecdotes of mainstream comedy as well as offering a taster of a few more niche up-and-coming voices. It might be taking a risk as different comedians perform every day without prior notice, and it might not be pure enough or special enough for a comedy connoisseur, but it’s a crowd-pleaser.