Jonny Pelham is affable and tells some thoughtful stories about his life, with original punchlines, great timing, and a good sense of narrative. His perspective on the world, such as musings prompted by watching a pigeon eat ice cream, alongside his cynical tone, is imaginative and humorous.
Jonny Pelham is affable and tells some thoughtful stories.
So why, then, did the audience not laugh? Not even once? Ouch. Though the Jeykll and Hyde’s Crypt venue is a relatively intimate, there was a fair-sized audience for a free show. Possibly the silence resulted from the faulty mic which distorted his voice – mechanised and dehumanised – creating a barrier to empathy between him and the audience. Possibly it would have helped if he had spent more time warming up the audience, gauging their responses, instead of launching, more or less, straight in to his routine. Possibly it was down to some crossing of the stars or some unknowable whims of the Fates. The guy had some funny things to say but for whatever reason it didn't work for him tonight.
George Zach learnt from Jonny's failings and dumped the mic, made a gleeful crack about enjoying watching his pal die on stage, and managed to gain the audience early on. Sometimes successful stand-up can simply be about energising a small, stuffy room, and the audience favoured his vivacious style to Jonny's quieter, cynical tone.
George Zach talks about his life since coming to Newcastle from Greece, observing cultural differences with style and a sense of the absurd. He contrasts the piss-taking Brits and proud Greeks, modern austerity and ancient Athens, and finds mischievous delight in errors of translation. His subject matter remains light, at times derivative. From national quirks to taking his girlfriend home to meet his family, then to growing up and away from his parents, this routine is not going to change your world view or offer an entirely fresh fringe experience, but he pulls it off well with a style that is thoughtful and unexpected.