Sunday, 1 May 2011

The Comedy Crawl - Day 1

The Comedy Crawl is an offshoot of the Camden Crawl, and it's spread over two evenings, with over 100 acts booked. I had been looking forward to this for some time. Let's get the disappointment out of the way first though:

There was no schedule released until the day of the gigs. This schedule seemed rather ambitious to say the least. I know that last minute changes get made and some people cancel, and others may be added, but all it takes is a little update to the website so we can access the most up to date information. I know the thrill of an event like this is that you can stumble across new talent for the first time, but I would also like the option of knowing when and where a particular act will be performing.

We queued up to get our wristbands at 5pm, and we went to the Black Cap for a bite to eat and a couple of acts before the shows started at 7pm. However unbeknown to us, the comedy actually started at 2pm, and we had no access to it. It's pretty poor considering we had paid £35 for a weekend ticket and were not being allowed to see 25% of the acts. After a few moans about this via Twitter, the organisers graciously have allowed us in for the Sunday afternoon.

That's most of the moaning over, and none of it is directed at the acts or the individual promoters, as they all seemed to do a sterling job under varying conditions

At The Black Cap, Neal and I started preparing our plan. Some of the acts we agreed we wanted to see and some we would go our separate ways. The first act was up at The Canalside Bar, and it was Adam Bloom. He's someone I've never seen before but Neal spoke highly of. We got there before 7 and got a good seat. I decided to go to the loo and to my horror they had a toilet attendant. Does anyone ever think that's a good idea? I went to the cubicle (as I usually do) and had a wee. I also thought I'd blow my nose but there was no loo roll. Luckily this wasn't a huge disaster for me, but it could be for the next occupant. The man squirted a tiny bit of soap on me, I washed my hands and he gave me a tiny bit of blue roll which instantly became soaked. I had to ask for another bit. And one more. And another to blow my nose on. I told the man there was no loo roll, and he held out the blue roll, saying "I have it". That's top service having every sheet of loo roll (and itchy blue stuff at that) delivered over the top of the cubicle door. I'm really hoping this was just a misunderstanding, but I doubt it, considering it was still empty when I went back  at 1030.

Time moved on and by 730 I grew weary of no acts on stage and decided to show my loyalty to Fat Tuesday by visiting Belushi's. i just managed to catch the awkward and funny ending of Dan Antopolski. Tom Craine was up next, but probably not my cup of tea who was soon followed by a rather camp boy with a big hat and long socks. I think he was Joey Page. He had a few microphone problems but did most of the gig off mic, which was fine from where I was sitting, but probably not so good for the people at the back.

I decided to visit the Wheelbarrow as that was where Nicola and Rob were. The venue was very busy, and it was rather long and narrow. I only stayed a couple of minutes, as all I could hear was terrible Turkish style singing. I went back to Fat Tuesday and caught the next comedian. Again, not my cup of tea. He was a bit shouty and making poor cock jokes, with a slight undercurrent of ironic racism, which to some ears may not have seemed ironic at all. It turns out this was Adam Bloom, so was pretty glad I missed the show at The Canalside Bar. Chris Cox was on next; a comedy mindreader who could be good if he either did less comedy or less magic. For a comedian who does magic I'd stick to Pete Firman, and for a funny magician, Derren Brown.

So far I hadn't seen anyone who had really made me laugh (Tiernan excepted, whose MCing was its usual high standard. It  must be a hard job keeping up the energy for such a long time, especially with people leaving and arriving after (and during) each act.

Joel Dommett
I went to "Ready To Eat" (RTE) to catch Joel Dommett and saw the end of Amadeus Martin. not a name I knew, but definitely someone I would see again. Full of charisma and a very funny guy. I just wish I had seen more of him. Again, people were wrriving and leaving and the compere asked me if I was leaving too. I told him it depended who the next act was. By this time I realised the schedules were not close to accurate so I had no idea who to expect. he introduced another comedy magician to the stage and I headed out for a cigarette. I was speaking to the MC (damn - can't remember his name but he was very very good) and explained I was looking for Joel Dommett. He told me he was on next and lo and behold he turned up to the venue.

Canalside Bar, hoping to see Sean Hughes and Abandoman.

This venue by now was so busy. I quickly located Neal and Nicola and stood beside them. Tiff Stevenson was on and from what I could hear of her she was excellent. Unfortunately there was so much babbling from people all around me, and especially from the people further back who clearly weren't here for the comedy: I guess they just allowed people with Camden Crawl (the music festival that was happening alongside it) tickets in to the venue. This is never a great idea for comedy. Top marks for Tiff for getting through this rather tough gig.

Neal and Nicola decided to move on by this point and I thought I'd stick around to see who was on next. It was Luke Benson, but I had seen him a number of times before at The Fortnight Club, and as it was busy and hot I decided to nip out for a cigarette. I got chatting to the promoter of the venue and she couldn't believe we were not allowed into the comedy events during the day. I spent some time chatting with her, and she was lovely. I just wish I could remember her name. Matt Kirshen came on next. I had a brief chat with him before and he seemed a little unhappy by the talkative crowd. I didn't see him, but I imagine he was no less than excellent, as I've never seen him be anything other than that.

Me and Brendon Burns
I suddenly heard about 100 people with one voice shout "Shut the fuck up" and it seemed the compere Brendon Burns had decided to deal with this lot once and for all. He came back outside and I spoke to him briefly. I asked him for a picture for this blog and he said it was fine and seemed surprised that I didn't want to be in it myself. It was embarrassing, so now you know why I have a picture of me in it. Please forgive me.

Abandoman closed the show. I have seen them once before and they were stunning. Again, tonight was more of the same. A fantastic Irish improvised hip-hop act that you have to see.

I joined Rob, Nicola and Neal back at Belushi's for a farewell drink before we do this all again on Sunday.

In summary:
  • Poor organisation
  • Great promoters
  • Top acts: Amadeus Martin, Joel Dommett, Tiff Stevenson, and Abandoman

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