Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Fortnight Club - Relaunched!

The Fortnight Club has been running for around 20 years in various venues near Angel, Islington. It was set up by such comedians as Lee Hurst and Alan Davies in order to try out new material, and is the longest running new material night in London. Until recently, it was situated at The Camden Head in Angel (not Camden). I had visited there a number of times and was always struck by the venues disinterest in the club. There were never any posters, or even an arrow pointing up the stairs, and the staff never seemed to know when the show started or even if there was one.

The first time I came here, the show didn't go ahead as there just wasn't anyone there. Another time, Milton Jones and Tony Law amongst others performed to just two of us. Anyway, a month or two ago, it was announced that The Camden Head were no longer going to do entertainment, so The Fortnight Club were on the move. This, I thought had to be a good thing. I was not keen on that particular pub as either a bar or a venue, and recently a new comedy club in Angel, The New Red Lion Theatre has opened, which to me seemed like an ideal venue.

This was announced on Facebook and I managed to win a couple of free tickets. I took my friend Richard, who had been to this venue before to see Richard Herring, probably because it's less than 20 seconds walk from his house.

Announced on the bill tonight were Fortnight Club stalwarts Mary Bourke, Tony Law and around 7 others. The compere was the fantastic Ronnie Rigsby (aka Logan Murray). As it turned out I was disappointed that there was no Tony Law, and poor Logan was ill, however that was made up for later.

I had two awkward moments before the gig. The first was when I wanted to visit the loo. The only signs to tell me which was which was a picture of a lion on one door, and a panther on the other. I looked from one to the other before confidently striding into the panther door. I quickly left! (Richard pointed out to me later that the panther was probably a lioness.)

Outside I met Nick Helm outside having a cigarette: "It's Nick isn't it?"
"Andy" he said
"Good to see you again Nick"
"No, I'm Andy"

It was getting confusing.

I said "Sorry I thought you were Nick Helm"
"Who's he?"
"A comedian"
"I'm a comedian called Andy Onions"

Well that was the second awkward moment of the evening. I said hello to Mary as she walked in and she mentioned that there was something in her set inspired by me. This was worrying and I wondered which of my idiotic Facebook updates she had seen!

Simon Clayton took over as compere for the evening and introduced our first act, Dylan Bray. I had seen Dylan before and enjoyed his set, especially the joke where he said that he didn't mind if his unborn child was a boy or a girl "just as long as it was straight". He explained that this joke went badly yesterday and made two girls cry and spent some time explaining the thought processes behind it.

Simon introduced a comedian by the name of "Adam Tempest" - I whispered to Richard that he sounded like a superhero. He was a rather tall skinny lad in glasses that didn't quite fit the name but he was rather funny.
Sanderson Jones (and Richard)
Jo Romero was up next but I couldn't take my eyes off her boots. I really don't want to be unkind but I did whisper (very quietly) to Richard that it looked like she had forgotten to take the back half of a pantomime horse off. However, her material soon distracted my attention from the boots! Luke Benson closed the first half with what I think was a very funny set. Unfortunately his Geordie accent was so incredibly strong that I probably only understood about 3 minutes out of the 10 he was on stage for! I have no problems with Sarah Millican or even Ross Noble, but I found that I really had to concentrate hard.

After the rather uneventful break things moved up a notch with Tony Cowards. Not someone I'd seen before, but he rattled off a host of one liners that Milton Jones or Gary Delaney would be proud of.

Ivor Dembina. Not a name I was familiar with, but certainly an unusual performance. Not many words were spoken at first, but he looked round the back of each side of the curtain, before slowly coming back to the microphone and declaring "Well I don't know where Maddie is.", then putting comedy to one side and lecturing the audience about how Live At The Apollo is filmed and why comedy audiences were stupid to go to DVD recordings and pay for the privilege. An interesting, if one sided discussion punctuated by one man standing up, muttering "Fucking shit" and walking out.

Mary Bourke was up next and had come up with some "mum cusses" as she didn't think the ones that the teenage boys on the bus told were good enough, mentioning one that she had heard where one boy claimed his friend's mum had "wooden legs and real feet". At a previous gig she had applauded the wit of the boy, but since I had pointed out on Facebook to her that it was an old Steven Wright joke, derided him for his plagiarism.

Marian Pashley was the penultimate act and she certainly tickled Richard with a quip about her retort to mothers with pushchairs ramming them into the back of her ankles: "Do that again and I'll punch your child in the face."

The Fortnight Club, and I'm sure other new material nights, are great places to see comedians that you haven't seen, or even heard of before, trying out new material. Yes, some of it isn't polished; some of it might not work. but it's a chance to discover people that you'd willingly go to see again. So far at this club I've stumbled across both Tony Law and Mary Bourke and tonight I have found another great comic to add to my list. Sanderson Jones.

Sanderson Jones
He was our headliner tonight and as soon as he came on had the audience in stiches. He remarked on his remarkable resemblance to Jesus and even got Richard to be his lectern (for no apparent reason) to hold his notes. We spoke to him after and in October he is planning a big gig in October at Union Chapel with no tickets advertised in the press, no tickets available on the phone, no tickets available on the internet. The only way to buy a ticket is through him directly as he will be flyering his own show. Now I don't know if I've broken a rule of comedy by telling you this or not, but I didn't sign any contract.

Now, on an unrelated note, if you've read this before Wednesday 2nd March you have no excuse not to go to Los Quattros Cvnts at The Phoenix, Cavendish Square at 8pm to see LQC (The Trap + Michael Legge) with special guests Joanna Neary and AL MURRAY ! For only £7. And they even give you £2 off if you say "Bum" at them on the door!

And go and see Sanderson Jones some time.

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