Headlines Comedy Club Chiswick

Will Watts on the latest line-ups at our local comedy venue

headliners chiswickPrivate Eye is running a rather good series of Barry Fantoni cartoons entitled ‘Scenes You Seldom See’. About three issues ago it ran one of a comic in a comedy club saying something like ‘Instead of lazily making fun of the audience, I shall do some material that I have prepared.’ Our emcee Micky Hutton is either not an Eye reader, or didn’t see the application of the joke to himself. Alternating between broad Geordie and what he represented as a Chiswick accent (ie some distance north of Penelope Keith), he tried to tease an unfortunate woman who had admitted to living in a semi-detached house. This didn’t go down well. ‘I’m only trying to warm you up’, protested Mr Hutton, making the cardinal error of saying what he should have been doing instead of actually doing it. Later on he played us the intro to (wait for it) ‘Stairway to Heaven’ on his electric guitar. He played it quite well, but needs to work harder if he wishes to avoid giving the impression of being a one party trick pony.

First act proper Mark Hurst was also emphasising his northern origins (Sheffield this time). There was something about his material that made one wonder when Parliament will pull out its finger and bring in compulsory sell-by dates on jokes (perhaps the Keen family of local MPs can be lobbied to champion this issue). Example: when I was young, we didn’t have colour TV. We held a Quality Street wrapper over each eye. High hat cymbal flourish. Mr Hurst did a variation of that prehistoric Victor Borge punctuation sketch, miming the ( ) ! : marks instead of voicing them. Even if you allowed that the premise was original – and you’ll have noticed I don’t – he launched all this by recalling and mocking the yuppie habit of waggling one’s fingers in the air to suggest quotation marks. Since nobody has done this in real life since 1988, his comic foundations were nothing but two inches of builders’ rubble.

As an audience, we now felt that we deserved a bit of a break. Happily it arrived in the shape of Gina Yashere, an amiable Nigerian with a shock of Stabilo Boss pink hair, some very funny observational material and an immaculate sense of timing. Although she got off to a slightly sticky start – like both her predecessors on stage, she made some remark about Chiswick and we thought for a moment we were in for yet more Penelope Keith treatment – she quickly recovered and delivered a gutsy set. She took in the TV commercial for mobile phone-cum-cameras where the girl sends her boyf a picture of a mug of coffee to indicate she is Up For It (Ms Yashere thought this an unrealistic portrayal of life in the Noughties, and that in reality a less coy image would be used – and then mimed taking the photograph), Anne Robinson and the Weakest Link (a soft but deserving target) and had a nice line on the £8000 allegedly spent by some foolish feline fancier on a cat kidney transplant. This allowed her a way of contrasting English attitudes to pets with those in her native Nigeria (‘Mum, the dog’s dead.’ Pause. ‘Ok, put it in the bin.’). By the end of the performance we had all fallen in love, to the point that when she snuck back in during the drinks interval to pick up her money she got a spontaneous extra round of applause. Ms Yashere told us she already appears on TV, but I suspect mostly on yoof programmes on BBC3 with ‘Liquid’ in their name. She is surely headed for better things.

Finally John Moloney, accurately self-described as a fat bloke who looks like Cathy Burke, had his turn.  Mr Moloney delivered vaguely surreal material at a comfortable dreamy pace. For example relating the story of the rabbit he hit on the motorway. ‘Not with a car, though. I pulled over, got out the car and punched him. Discovered he had a human’s foot in his pocket for good luck.’ He did a few bits about the Queen’s multiple birthdays – which he thought were an indicator that she was signing on twice – and considered the RSPCA’s dealings with that people who offer to take dogs from Battersea. Apparently they must get their houses checked to make sure the place is big enough for the dog. ‘I notice they don’t worry that the house is big enough for people’, he said. It was a fair point, but Ms Yashere had mined pretty much the same seam 20 minutes earlier and done it better. Tough luck on Mr Moloney, but that’s show biz.

Will Watts

April 7, 2003

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