The evening is hosted by Silky, an amiable, lanky Liverpudlian who doesn’t like the idea of preparing a comedy act in advance – a thing he likens, strangely, to carrying a rucksack onstage and bringing out a polished boulder that never changes. Silky rejects the rucksack, preferring, well, the ragbag. Mainly the lazy comic’s standby nowadays, which is to pick out audience members, ask them what they do, are they in a relationship, etc. You know the score. Here it is taken to extreme. By the end of his first set he knows the names of most of the audience, confident in the fact that everyone, especially the person named, will laugh every time a name is mentioned. The effect is to make audience members feel they are part of the show, personal friends of Silky, and therefore free to constantly shout out what they feel to be witty comments. Not that your man can’t be funny: when he does routines that he’s worked out before (oh, yes, he has some), particularly his drunk airline pilot routine, he is cryingly funny. As are the songs he’s written, as opposed to the ones he makes up on the spot about, yes you guessed, members of the audience. It comes to feel more like someone’s stag night than a comedy show, but if that’s what floats your boat, then Silky is your man.
Paul Revill follows in much the same vein, and after asking the names of the few remaining un-named audience members, tells us he is a primary school supply teacher, and proceeds to treat us like his work clients, asking who thinks they’re grown-up (no-one, unsurprisingly), and has us singing along to a suitably infantile ditty about bananas, complete with infantile gestures, among other non-grown-up things.
Angie Belcher, refreshingly, is firmly in the polished boulder camp. She name-checks no-one in the audience and gets on with a sharply-observed act giving her views on life and love from an unpatronising Midlands point of view – including the particular difficulties of finding powers to call on at the point of orgasm if you don’t believe in God. The audience laugh appreciatively and immoderately throughout, and feel no need to shout anything out.
Silky feels no particular need to wind the show up after this, like boring boulder-carrying comperes do, but continues bantering with his new-found friends. Forty minutes after the advertised finishing time your critic has to leave, with Silky still in full flow. Maybe he’s related to Ken Dodd, another lovable scouse comic who doesn’t know when to stop.
*** (3 Stars)
John Christopher Wood