Photo credit: southwest shows
As one of the UK’s longest running comedy nights, a Friday evening with the Exeter Comedy Club sounded wonderful, especially as it was held in the Corn Exchange. I took the chance to see this event in the lovely and surprisingly big venue tucked away just off the high street.
It was a packed night, with every table full. The show was compèred by the fearless teacher-turned-comedian Allyson June-Smith. True to the description on the leaflet, she was ‘sassy’ and had a ‘in your face’ style of humour. She started the evening talking about the differences she found coming over to England from Canada, with the classic fanny pack misunderstanding. Chatting to the audience, she cooed over a David, who are apparently always lovely, and her call for “any Deans in here” was followed by a sharp “they’re all dicks”. After the interval, she demonstrated her Shakira impression – described as “a cat in heat” – and Britney Spears impression – “a chipmunk on helium” –, thereafter trying her hand at pole dancing with the mic stand and her fingers as well.
The first act was Nick Dixon, new to the comedy scene. He had an easy, conversational and casual attitude, which helped make up for his rocky start. Dixon seemed to have an ability to smoothly approach potentially uncomfortable jokes and moments. Instead of trying to be offensive just to engender an audience reaction, he made fun of racist jokes and we could laugh without feeling guilty. He went on to rant about the doctors, sharing his emotional food diary with us as well as discussing his medical circumcision which had the crowd wincing.
Next up was Paul F Taylor, my personal favourite. An award-winning comedian and screenwriter, he was slightly mad and energetic, to say the least. He commanded the stage, sweeping the crowd away with his bizarre stories and surreal impersonations, such as imitating a screeching seagull whilst declaring his love for couples coming to the show, and pretending to be a Welsh cat. Amid all this, Taylor sang his new title, ‘The Hand Luggage Guy’, about the glee of being a travelling comedian with light luggage. Taylor also played vending machines, train ticket machines and supermarket self-checkouts, although this began to drag on near the end – it makes one start to wonder just how many types of self-service machines there are in the world.
The night ended with Ian Smith, the event’s headline act, another award-winning comedian. A young performer, he had a cheeky sense of humour. He began with telling us his joys of carbonating everything, even urine samples for the doctor. A highlight of his act was his story about the immature fun you can have with the references when transferring money to bank accounts – especially when you title it “anal bleaching” and your parents read your bank statements. Unfortunately for Smith, there was an awkward moment when he made an almost identical joke as Taylor’s about the large banner behind him. No one laughed the second time round, and he moved swiftly on. There was a slight lack of linking between the acts, which was a shame as it meant the evening didn’t always flow between the three sections.
Despite that, the Exeter Comedy Club delivered a fantastic evening with talented acts. Part of the UK’s night life since 1997, it lived up to its legacy and I look forward to more of their events.