The Liverpool Comedy Festival finally returned after a long absence of 18 months, and offered an impressive range of gigs, from the bread and butter of the circuit to John Bishop’s arena run. MADEUP didn’t get to see as much of proceedings as usual, but was greatly cheered by the selection made.
First up was Robin Ince and Michael Legge‘s Pointless Anger, Righteous Ire at the Unity. “We don’t do this show very often. It tends to lack structure,” Ince sheepishly concluded as a parting shot, but it was all a lot more entertaining than a show about grumpy white guys could have been. Part improv, part doss and very Radio 4, the pair come on stage, tit about a bit, then get down to the business of trying to distinguish — by way of audience vote — whether things that really get up their nose in life are justifiably annoying (the righteous ire of the title), or just a bit of a waste of time and energy (pointless anger).
Extending this out to the audience worked well on this occasion, and I hope for everyone’s sake the IT guy who piped up how angry he got with “people who say screensaver when they mean desktop wallpaper” was pleased with himself for coming up with that one. Ince and Legge were great company and the show flew by.
Our own Sam Avery tried out his show Rock ‘n’ Dole at Baa Bar back at the last comedy festival, but I missed the end after legging it out to go and catch another show which ended up with a performance artist convincing the audience into cutting off their own pubic hair for to be stuck to her face. I had almost blocked that out of my mind.
So back I went to catch Sam again, telling the tale of his days in a successful 90s metal band called dBH. Being the same age, from the same locale and remembering reading about the band in the likes of Kerrang! myself, I was the target demographic for this show so was always going to love it, but his rags to, erm, rags tale, fueled by the tall tales of David Lee Roth and ending with almost getting bottled offstage opening for Motorhead, gave this one hour show a unique selling point and a great narrative, along with plenty of laughs.
And just for the curious, here they are in action (sorry, Sam):
Finally, I got to check out the ever popular comedy festival pairing of Jake Mills and James Redmond, also at Baa Bar. James’s act is an enjoyable mishmash of convincing the crowd he’s a normal bloke and sharing stories of his slightly odd mates, while at the same time acknowledging that, having spent years on Hollyoaks and then Casualty, he is a bit of a celebrity. He’s very self-depreciating about this and it makes for some great stories, but a good portion of the act stands or falls on how much an audience knows or cares for that frame of reference. Personally, I was waiting for him to shoehorn a mention of Tony off Hollyoaks in there, and he did, so it worked for me, but it could be that this comic will shine brighter in future when that pressure to explain quite where people know his face from isn’t quite so keenly felt by him.
Jake Mills’s cocky swagger has great potential. He has a seemingly natural stage presence and a growing easy confidence, without being crass, that could develop his act up to the next level in the not-too-distant future. As the audience was for the most part his friends and family, this gig was rather casual and seemed a bit off-the-hoof, even getting his dad on stage for a spot at one point. It was all good fun, although Jake’s casual rambling and sometimes stream-of-consciousness style meant stories he started didn’t always sound like they got finished. We’ll forgive him.
His show touched on the idea of growing up and finding your feet in work and life, and was perfect subject matter for a young comic trading on his boyish charm as much as having a very clear ambition to carve a niche in stand up. That’s a good combo, which will make it interesting to see how his career develops.