Wednesday, July 21, 2004

The Showcase Theatre, Banbury Cross, Northriding

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Service: * *
Food: * * 1/2
Ambience: * * *
Babe Count: * * * *

Alistair Plint has invited me and a partner to an exclusive preview evening of a new standup comedy concept he's created with a bunch of other comedians. THE COMEDY SHOP is the show, and this is its first public outing.

Which is why Karen and I are sitting at a table right near the stage.

And you know what?

It's realllllly hilarious! Vicus, the comedy magician is really enjoyable. He's got an assistant on stage at all times, sitting behind a small drum kit. Whenever he does something funny, he gives her a signal, and she does a nice drum roll and cymbal clash.

Alistair's doing the Master of Ceremonies job tonight, and he's very funny. Much funnier than when I saw him perform at Carnival City on the same bill as Bianca.

I'm kinda bemused about the inclusion in the lineup of Melody Shevlane. Last time I saw her, she bombed really bigtime at Carnival City, and tonight she does the same. I think her material is quite funny. But she hasn't quite focused it yet, and she rambles quite a lot. What's more, it's very culturally specific, and she doesn't offer the audience enough expository information to be able to understand the world she's evoking. So it just falls flat. (She's from Cape Town, and does Cape Coloured material. In Joburg, we have no idea whatsoever what she's talking about.) Ah well. She'll learn or burn.

Alyn Adams is the main highlight of the evening for me. He headlines the first half of the act, and he's just consummately brilliant. Knows his material. Knows his audience. Connects superbly.

The second half opens with Etienne Shardlow, who plays an oversized schoolboy with warped observations about the adult world. He's excellent. But his routine is realllllly short. Less than five minutes. Etienne!!! Write more material, boy!

Mel Miller at his ascerbic hardcore best with Alistair Plint's COMEDY SHOP.And then Mel Miller closes the evening with his scathing brand of killer insults and I-don't-give-a-fuck attitude. Lots and lots of laughter for me and Karen.

After the show, Alistair comes and sits with us. He looks meaningfully at Karen. Nods eight or nine times. Says to me, "I've been following your site. Really excellent." Nods again. He's sizing Karen up for a rope fitting, I reckon. He's thinking, 'Is this the same Karen Roy's been writing about?' The nodding says it all.

"Thanks for the show," we say.

"Oh man," he says, "I've got Mel Miller to thank for my start in this business. I was doing the lighting for a gig at a strip club once, cos my girlfriend at the time was a stripper, and I was just hanging around there, and the lighting guy didn't pitch, so I volunteered. And after the show, Mel Miller came up to me and thanked me for lighting him so well. And we got to talking. And he asked me if I ever wanted to do standup comedy. Next thing, he invited me round to his house the next day, and we did a little workshop. I got a five minute routine together, thanks to him, and rehearsed it a bit. At the end of that week, he said I should come watch him do a gig. So he goes up to the microphone, and announces a new talent, Alistair Plint. Oh man... I didn't expect it at all... but I'd rehearsed the routine, so I just went up and did it, and it worked. People laughed. And I've been doing it ever since."

I don't mention that I've been collecting material myself, and that I'm almost ready to let rip again. I'm addicted, man. Standup is just one of the greatest thrills known to humankind. Aside from tying up your woman before you, uh, do some standup with her.

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