I have the greatest admiration for stand-up comedians. Anyone who can place themselves on a stage, isolated in the spotlight and try to coax a chuckle, a giggle or ultimately a full-throated guffaw out of an unforgiving, expectant crowd is certainly brave and maybe even slightly unhinged. Whatever their psyche - they deserve our respect.
A pleasant Friday night spent in the company of two accomplished entertainers
It’s Friday night mid-way through the Fringe and I’m downstairs in the bustling party-bus atmosphere of the Broadway Lounge having a pre-show drink as one of the comics, Michael Mooney, comes over, gives me a leaflet and politely asks if I’ll come and see the show, Can You Put This In The Bin For Me? He’s cruising the bar in an attempt to tear weekend-revellers away from their booze and totter upstairs to this free Fringe event. Unfortunately, he’s not entirely successful and as we take our seats for the start of the set, a little while later, it’s barely half-full and half of this half have already been hitting the bars since they clocked off at five. This is going to be a challenging hour.
And then the first gladiator, Charmaine Davies, enters the forum. A Kemptown girl and a stand-up veteran and Fringe entertainer (as is Mooney) she’s not afraid to face this small pack of lions who are slightly inebriated and as such, loquacious and demanding. Immediately connecting with her audience: she roots out the bizarre frequency of ‘Daves’ amongst us and admirably copes with a couple of over-confident audience members. This Brightonian is entertaining and likeable. Her jokes are well-rehearsed and, although occasionally punch-line timings could be improved, she has some witty observations (my particular favourite is the one about Harry Ramsdens). Additionally, she works her audience and copes with the, at times, rowdy front row. Thirty minutes very quickly pass and Davies then hands over to her much drier counterpart, Mooney, and a broad, relaxed Glaswegian (now Brighton-resident) takes the mic. Mooney is not to be rushed and he delivers with a dry wit that makes the Sahara look tropical. There’s a warmth to his humour, especially in his observations of his girlfriend’s son and even when he’s cruel (a joke about the manipulation of his OCD flatmate) his delivery manages to be, somewhat, charming. His jokes about accents are amusing and his timing is good, his presence confident and his demeanour affable.
All too soon, my wine glass is empty and the hour is over and it’s been, generally, enjoyable. Suggestions to enhance this duo’s set would be to drum up some more support prior to the show - this undoubtedly would have made for a better atmosphere for Mooney and Davies to work with. Additionally, some of the material could have been a little fresher. But, all in all this has been a pleasant Friday night spent in the company of two accomplished entertainers. And, it’s free! So head down to the Broadway Lounge and take a pew.