Bear Jokes has had a rough old time of late with the Christmas and new year battering audience numbers but last Thursday's event showed the fresh shoots of a spring-style recovery with cheerful couples in attendance looking for something to lift their January blues.
The line-up had plenty of variety and, of course, bucketloads of talent. Whether it was Cheeky Kita going for surrealist impressions (see photo), Dan Attfield singing London Underground based love songs or David McIver introducing his fantastically awkward Shy Man character there was nothing not to like in our comedy broom cupboard. For my part I dusted off a reinvigorated Shuffle and Stop and confirmed that Meal Deal is a bona fide classic. I have an avalanche of Edinburgh previews booked from March onwards which will no doubt pack the room and give Leyton something to laugh about as we all slide into a Brexit related collapse by the summer. Ian Lane headlines the next show on Feb 1st - which is also the start of my birthday weekend so perhaps I'll see you there as I'm more than likely disappearing to the coast the next day to clear the smog from my lungs.
Today Anna and I are off to the Musical Comedy Awards opening round to see if we can make a hundred comedy fans smile enough to give us their vote then next Thursday we have a twenty minute set in Hackney for Folked Up. The festival calendar is filling up nicely with appearances booked for Brigton Fringe, Hastings Comedy Festival and the Merthr Tydfil Comedy Weekend. We should know where we are for Edinburgh this year by the start of February too.
It's all so exciting I bought no less than four different retro computer t-shirts today for stage wear. Yes, four.
Monday, 8 January 2018
Last week I found myself at two east London gigs. The first was my own Bear Jokes whilst the second was Peter Merriment’s Comedy Beast in Bromley by Bow.
Bear Jokes had a storming lineup with great new material on offer. The minimal crowd didn’t detract from this but more bums on seats would have been better.
London gigs with large audiences appear to neatly divide between newbie “bringer” nights with 15+ acts doing 5 minutes each with a friend in tow a contractual obligation and pro shows with names off the telly charging big money.
Low cost / pay what you want shows with high quality established circuit acts, Bear Jokes being one, find themselves full one night and empty the next on the whim of the great British public. It’s a challenge and should anyone have any fresh ideas I’m all ears as there has to be a middle in this turnout sandwich somewhere.
By contrast, Comedy Beast was packed out thanks to its bringer policy for all but a handful of more established acts doing longer sets (Anna and I included). The newbies were of decent quality and with Ali Woods on MC duties it all hung together rather well. We nailed two songs in eight minutes in optimistic readiness for the Musical Comedy Awards semi-finals (at 6 minutes the opening heat will be a single song job) and had plenty of good feedback from the crowd. Peter, you are a legend.
So is the person who, according to my download site, bought the FWP album on iTunes in the last month. I figured we’d all gone to streaming by now. £4 in the bank. Kerching.