"Trout. Because you cherish her."
Christ on a bike! This was probably the longest comedy night I've ever been to! Largely thanks to the mighty Justin Moorhouse, but more on that later...
First up on this frankly marathon comedy night was a last minute act trying out a bit of new material (due to the Pete Townsend news stories), Darren Gold.
The material was clever in places, occasionally a bit obscure for the relatively young student crowd, the list of Who songs for example, so it tended to be a bit hit and miss. But taking into account he'd apparently written the set on the way to the gig it's still fairly impressive and could work given a bit of polishing. Sadly by that time it will be old news anyway.
Second comic of the night was Stephen Carlin.
Stephen started his set with what I thought was a fantastic gag about the old woman next door getting 14 pints of milk and 16 newspapers for Christmas. His set consisted of fairly off-the-wall observations, delivered in a quirky, deadpan way, which somehow added to the humour. There were plenty of laughs, although one or two seemed to arrive by satellite.
A decent debug gig from Stephen who'll no doubt be back for more before long.
After Stephen came a Malarkey debut from London comic Juliet Meyers.
In something of a contrast to Stephen, Juliet delivered her set with almost breathless gusto (good phrase - think I'll use it more often). She had some good lines in her set, which consisted of observations and gags about the Jewish religion and life in London, amongst other things. She well down well enough with the audience who gave her a decent round of applause at the end.
Next up was another impromptu set, a ten-minuter from the mighty, mighty Justin Moorhouse.
Whatever happens when Justin's on it's sure to be funny and tonight was no exception (particularly later on in the evening). He did a ten minute set which was part material, part audience banter, consisting of gags about the bin bag Ripper murders and the tale of when he became "aroused" whilst playing on a ZX Spectrum as an adolenscent (how he managed that, I've no idea!)
He finished off with some great material about the Washington sniper (even though it was a while ago now). A great set as usual from the big man.
Shelley Cooper was first on after the break.
London comic Shelly had some decent enough material, with some astute observations in a fairly laid back style. A few of the gags got ripples of laughter, some got bigger laughs. I particularly liked the one about men complaining about women drivers being indicisive - untrue as women drivers "change lanes without even thinking about it".
Not a bad set - a decent open spot - but probably needs to be sharpened up a bit for a main support slot.
The next comic of the night was one of the rising stars of the local comedy scene, Rich Davenport.
Rich was playing his third gig at Malarkey's (in probably the shortest space of time anyone's every done three gigs here) and had new material for the third successive time. Nice.
Rich started his set with some excellent audience participation, getting people to shout words from a board (see picture). While this doesn't sound like groudbreaking comedy it worked surprisingly well and the audience really went for it. There was more to it than just shouting a list of words, such as slipping combinations of them into everyday sentences: "Will you stop shaking those gibbon maracas?" and the Valentine's advert, "Trout - because you cherish her." Superb.
Another part of the set was the 'Cockney Transformation Ray' which Rich thinks aliens should use in films to turn people into instant cockernees. There was also 'Chegwin - Rock Warrior' featuringly a startlingly accurate, if brief, impression of Keith Chegwin.
Altogether a good set which the audience loved (anyone who can get a room full of people to chant, "TROUT! TROUT! EGGNOG! TROUT!" deserves credit). Nice one, Rich.
Next up after Rich and making a welcome return to Bar XS was laid-back Swede Henrik Elmer.
Henrik did a longer set this time, consisting of the same material as last time plus some new stuff which was as good as the rest of the set. Tall tales and observations told in a quietly logical way, with clever references to gags told earlier in the set. A good way of making sure the audience are paying attention.
I thought Henrik did very well but he thought he struggled a bit. Perhaps the audience were flagging a bit by that time, or a lot of regulars remembered the set from the first time round. Either way he got plenty of laughs and applause.
Finally, headlining the night came affable Scouser Silky.
Silky runs and comperes several clubs and it shows because he was superb at audience banter and ad libbing, especially about pissed-up Malarkey regular Martin (who left before Silky went on, presumably due to being shitfaced): "Do you reckon if we go back to his house he'll be sat there on the sofa, crying in a wedding dress?"
His material was good as well but I always enjoy it when comics make stuff up on the spur of the moment. There were some fantastic acoustic songs (he's a dab hand on the guitar as well). But the best part was yet to come.
He came back on with an audience participation song that could have possibly resulted in serious (but hilarious) injuries to a pissed-up crowd. But it was when he went off again that Justin and fellow Phoenix Night-er Paddy the doorman shouted for more.
And when Toby tried to take him on, that was it, Justin went off on a drunken heckling spree. But then... a voice from the Gods! Silky had sneaked behind the bar to use the microphone used for introducing Toby: "Justin! This is the voice of your conscience speaking!"
Justin went on stage and took the microphone and thus began a comedy bantering match between the two while Toby stood by, fag in hand.
Justin then proceeded to do the equivalent of "You're my best mate, you are," about the club and Toby (much appreciated!) before bringing Silky on for a final song, Scary Looking Inbred Boy From Stockport.
We thought the night might have been over but no, Justin carried on, with Silky behind the bar on the mic, before being persuaded back on stage so Justin could do an improvised song, a remix of Pinball Wizard, followed by yet another song, one from earlier but sung by Justin.
Altogether, from the moment Silky took to the stage to the time the comedy was over, it was an hour and a quarter! The night finished at gone midnight! Fantastic night though, with some quality comics and the 'duelling comics' at the end were superb. Like this review, the night probably went on too long, but it was definitely one to remember.