Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category
I’ll be honest. Improv scares me. It’s not that I don’t like or respect it as an art form it’s just that because of the nature of it’s very being you end up with a situation that means it is never going to be consistent. It will range from the purely awful to the wonderful via the awkward and puerile. It can’t always be “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” or can it?
Our MC for the evening was Neil Curran. He started the night off with that beloved choice of all improvisational comedians out there; the dragging of a poor unfortunate audience member up on stage. I can’t fault Neil for what was to follow as it didn’t make me laugh as much as I had hoped because the options given to him by the audience member weren’t great. But that’s not to outright blame the girl who came up on stage. It’s one of those things that will work this week and not the next. It was an example of what can go wrong at an improv. Neil tried… boy did he try. Having been one of those audience members in the past I know the feeling of it not working and the tension it causes within the venue. Oddly… it’s a lot more enjoyable up on stage in those instances I found.
On the night we had two improv troupes that were put together over the course of 2-3 months by Neil at his improv comedy classes. It was the quality of some of the content on the night that showed that Neil really is good at what he does and is a credit to getting these guys up on stage after such a short period.
The Axis Theatre in Ballymun is a really lovely venue. Warm, inviting and comfortable you couldn’t ask for a nicer spot to debut as a comedian, assuming you aren’t phased by a big crowd that is! The 4 newbies who took part in Dean Scurry’s workshops and shared what they had learned with the Ballymun crowd were certainly braver than most. Facing a large home crowd who seemed to know them well, each of the four lads (Paddy Mooney, James Dunne, Denis Delaney and Simon Daly) took to the stay confidently and consistently got the audience laughing throughout the show.
Dean Scurry was the master of ceremonies for the evening and he certainly got the crowd pumped and ready to laugh. Clownish and over the top, Dean arrived on stage ‘Gagnam Style’ and from that manic beginning his energy never once faltered. His sense of humour was light-hearted and cheeky and the room erupted with laughter every time he shared another of his hilarious stories. Dean showed an immense enthusiasm for the new acts he was showcasing and it was easy to see how much respect they afforded him.
The night was not without its flaws and some of the workshop graduates have a long way to go before they could call themselves ‘comedians’ in the best sense of the word. However their material was well thought out and I have to give them props for having the courage to stand before a packed auditorium and try to make them laugh. I would have liked to have seen less reliance on obvious ‘body issue’ jokes and more respect for their allocated stage time will be necessary if they want to be remotely successful on the comedy circuit in future. But 2 of the 4 lads showed a confidence and control beyond their limited experience and I was particularly impressed with Simon Daly’s creative set, it’s not often a letter to Mammy gets as many laughs as his example did!
The comedy world appears to be split when it comes to Michael McIntyre. Like Marmite you either love him or hate him but in spite of critical reviews among his colleagues the public certainly seem to be enamoured with the light-hearted, floppy haired comedian. Sitting in a jam-packed 02 I couldn’t help but be impressed that this unashamedly middle-class act has managed to maintain his hold on the general public. The secret to his success was revealed within minutes of the shows opening… McIntyre is very endearing on stage, appearing genuinely grateful that everyone showed up & poking fun at his decision to release the tickets ridiculously far in advance (try March 2011!).
It’s a testament to McIntyre that he didn’t require an opening act (although even I found the use of a video montage from his last tour a tad narcissistic) and the entire show flew by in a haze of humourous stories, silly facial expressions and waves of laughter from the crowd.
The Bankers resident Improv troupe ‘The Craic Pack’ are celebrating their 10year anniversary this year & their experience certainly shone through during their performance on Friday last. As a first time visitor to The Bankers I was a little lost when I entered the bar but the staff were more than happy to direct me to the downstairs room that plays host to the weekly improv show. The room was intimate to say the least, you certainly wouldn’t want to be claustrophobic, but there was a very relaxed & warm atmosphere which meant the lack of space/comfort was quickly forgotten.
Performing on the night were Peter O’Byrne, Danny Kehoe, Sharon Mannion & Dermot Byrne. Each of them brought a unique flavour to the nights sketches but their true strength lay in their ability to support & challenge each other during the improv games they shared with us. In particular the “murder mystery” game demonstrated how well the performers work together with Danny having to figure out who he had killed along with where and how the crime was committed by piecing together subtle clues from the ‘Gardaí’ (played by Peter and Dermot).
After a change of date & a change of venue I was a little concerned that the 2012 Craic Attack final would struggle to attract enough of a crowd to make the evening successful. But as I squeezed my way into a seat in The Bad Ass Café on Wed 7th Nov. it was clear my worries were unfounded. The room was stuffed full of comedy enthusiasts & there were even some familiar faces in the crowd, including The International Comedy Club’s resident MC Aidan Bishop, who had clearly turned out to support the up & coming comedians who would be participating in the competition.
The line up for the evening was comprised of Emmet Quinn, Conor Neville, Sean Nolan, Matthew Collins, Al Porter, The Princes of Lagos, Annabel O’Connell, Emmanuel Idama, Cormac Moore and Rob Stears. The role of MC belonged to none other than Andrew Stanley. It was evident from the onset that Stanley has plenty of experience as an MC & he confidently kept the audience focused & in the mood for comedy over the course of the night.
The collection of finalists was an interesting one and there was no differentiation between the finalists who were chosen by the judges and those who made it thanks to audience votes. I felt this was the fairest approach to take as it resulted in all the comedians being received equally by the Bad Ass crowd.