Will Watts visits Chiswick's new comedy venue

headliners chiswickA great innovation: Headliners had a proper MC, by which I mean one who announces the act and gets off pronto. He also pleased me by using the correct, easily penetrable MC code. 'It is a tradition here at Headliners' [ = 'this is what we meant to do last week'] 'to give the first slot to a relative newcomer' [ = 'This boy is NBG']. So it proved. Steve Williams was a young Welshman who gabbled his material, who had as the main plank of his act a dreary mime of interfering with (can you guess?) a sheep, and who need not detain us beyond the end of this sentence.

Simon Fox was much more like it. Although he had perhaps a slightly over-conventional approach - for example he held up a bottle of Nightol and invited us to laugh at the 'may cause drowsiness' warning label; this is surely just a minor variation of the 'this packet of nuts may contain nuts' joke that has been doing the rounds since before Edwina first hung up her jacket over the frosted glass panel of the bolted door of the Whips' Office - he thought quickly on his feet, and turned a bit of backchat to his advantage. Best gag: his observation that Holland 'has got one of the lowest crimes rates in Europe… but, there again, they have legalised everything'.

Forthcoming Acts

Fri Nov 1 :

Entry is £10 - you can reserve seats on 8566 4067

Novelty city: a female! Since she wasn't billed, I'm afraid we have to rely on my scrawled handwriting for her name. Nickie (or Vicky) Frinebow (or Franjo) did a brisk little turn based on the Sapphic undercurrents that washed through the sea of hormones at her [character's?] girls' public school. I'm having difficulty describing this; I thought she was brave and unconventional and with good timing and, if she didn't pick up as many laughs as she deserved on this brief outing, she should hang in there and they will surely come.

The next item divided opinion in our party sharply. My friends Dave and Mike thought that Roger Monkhouse was the best yet. Here is the minority report. Mr Monkhouse is a proponent of the 'aggro slaphead' school of comedy, a style founded by the little gargoyle man who used to be on They Think It's All Over (he has now been replaced, as eventually everybody will be in everything, by Woss). This style dispenses with mere jokes, wit and humour and gets its laughs by a kind of verbal bullying. Mr Monkhouse began by seeking and getting a heckler, a man who identified himself as 'No Comment'. Mr Monkhouse set out to ridicule Mr Comment, but Mr Comment admirably held his nerve under fire and, when sneeringly asked what he did for a living, crisply replied: 'I am a w*nker'. This was hardly brilliant, but it was cleverer than anything Mr Monkhouse had thought of, and it got the audience on Mr Comment's side. After an empty few seconds Mr Monkhouse abruptly aborted his programme of teasing Mr Comment.
At this point I see from my notes that I lost interest in Mr Monkhouse (in fact they read Mike and Dave stop laughing ffs. I wish I was sitting at the next table with those three girls - they look very nice) so I can't tell you any more about him. However, when I challenged my friends in the interval that followed to cite a single thing that Mr Monkhouse had done that was funny, they were stumped. Reader: draw your own conclusions.

The finale was Dave Fulton, (left) a laconic, shaggy American who ambled on with a bottle of Budvar in his hand. Like his beer, Mr Fulton was reliable and calming and not too fizzy, and he flushed the taste of the previous act away. Mr Comment, flushed with over confidence from his previous victory, attempted another heckle… but was smartly hissed back to silence. Freed from interruptions, Mr Fulton drifted us to the end of the show on a sea of simple, workmanlike gags. Right near the finish he said, mock bewildered, 'You British guys! You drink soooh much! You guys drink like the pub is gonna close at eleven.' Only it was past eleven and the George had shut, so the joke was on us. Ha bloody ha.

Personal: If anybody picked up Mike's daybook by accident - it's a red A4 hardback containing a load of cartoons - please could they hand it in at the George as it is sorely missed.

Will Watts

First Laugh - Opening Night at Headliners

More Comedy Night at the Park Club

Comedy Legend Frank Carson to perform at the Park Club

October 7, 2002

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