I like laughing. I also like Edinburgh. Yet I have never actually made it to the festival of fun and creativity that takes place in the fine Scottish city every August. Luckily enough, although I am sure it doesn’t quite compare, London is awash with comics rehearsing their stuff before they unleash it on those demanding audiences. And so, for those of us exploring these early performances, and as compere Ben Van Der Velde, comic and founder of the Good Ship Comedy Club, reminded us on this Thursday night in July – we are a wall, and the artists are there to throw shit.
In the few weeks running up to Edinburgh, these preview shows are a test bed for new material. True to form, this evening in the Kilburn venue saw some rough and some smooth. Some laugh out loud moments and some gentle smirk, some genuine entertainment and some raised eyebrows, some straight up one liners and some witty sarcasm. Stomping feet in laughter and squirming bottoms in awkwardness. All for only four quid.
The night kicked off with twenty five minutes of divulgence from Manchester lass Kate Mulgrew in her set Happily Ever After. Mainly about her own life, and Disney, and the merging of the two it was a warm set filled with observations about life and longings. Likeable, she’s the kind of girl you’d be glad to share a brew or a beer with, whether in an optimistic or cynical bent. When the set is sharper she will also be the kind of comedian you’d happily part with cash to see as a headliner. By the time Edinburgh rolls round expect a shorter more punchy set, filler buffed, excitement more evident than awkward anxiety – and a great show.
Andrew O’Neill skipped on to the stage and burst into song, an entrance which seemed something of a juxtaposition to his long dark hair and sleeve tattoos. Firing through fifteen minutes of one liners mixed with impersonations, I confess, I was a little confused at times, but then I have realised I spend just as much time at comedy shows bemused as well as amused. Chock full of skittish sketches, he flitted between jokes with energy and enthusiasm, bounding humour at the audience and making engagement essential. Whether you ‘got it’ or not.
Andy Zaltzman, who is half of the topical podcast The Bugle, and owner of some excellent hair, usually conducts his satirical remarks in response to suggestions from the audience solicited in advance. Tonight a rather keen fan/heckler was the most engaged, frustrating the rest of the crowd a little, and slowing down the set. Exasperated by politics, the world, society and the environment, his sharp remonstrance delivered with a laser cut tongue is quick and responsive, even if he did appear a little weary tonight. Witty and sardonic, he still was without doubt the crowd’s highlight.
Sure there were some misses, but plenty of hits to compensate. I don’t want to over think the metaphor, but some material will definitely stick to that wall and make it up to Edinburgh. Scotland can look forward to their visitors.
Catch more Edinburgh previews and more at The Good Ship Comedy Night, usually twice a week, and a bargain at only £4.