Photo credit: totalguidetobath.com
On Friday 26th September Exeter’s Barnfield Theatre played host to Komedia’s Krater Comedy club, in the first of what promises to be an exciting monthly fixture. Robbie Brereton was in the audience.
With venues in Brighton and Bath, Komedia is one of the biggest names in British comedy. Having hosted some of the industry’s best loved comics, the club has steadily built up its reputation since its inception in 1994, all the while nurturing emerging talent. On Friday night the comedic torch was passed to Exeter, and I went to see what all the fuss was about.
The evening was compèred by the insatiable quick wit and inexhaustible lung capacity of Stephen Grant. Grant warmed up with some classic audience interaction, directing his first line of enquiry at a lone gentleman who was rather courageously sat in the front row, and worked for budget airline, Flybe.
However, Grant soon switched his attention to a family of four, headed by John, an injury lawyer. Grant dissected the despised ‘Injury Lawyers 4 you’ advert, and then slammed the expense of legal consultations, recounting a £45 toilet break he had taken. Next he moved on to John’s daughter, scrutinising her relationship with her boyfriend, before introducing the evening’s second act.
A proud West Country boy, Mark Olver’s act began with some eye watering audience interaction that tied his and Grant’s acts together, making the transition from one comic to another a seamless affair. Olver then proceeded to reel off a torrent of abuse directed at all the 20 year olds in the audience, at which point I must confess I sank a little lower in my seat, explaining how the ‘iPhone generation’ had never had the privilege of navigating a roundabout while pumping a car choke, or risking a call to a landline to proposition a girl. After a brief interlude to Google the start date of the Harry Potter films, Olver’s act progressed with a series of stories ranging from menopause-curing magnets to motorway dwelling camels, and an analysis of the West Country psyche.
After a brief intermission that allowed the audience, and Grant, to catch their breath, the show reopened with an examination of Grant’s failing libido, likened to the last dregs in a ketchup bottle, and a side-splitting slating of his infamous ex-wife, before Chris Chopping took to the stage.
A self-confessed ‘cardigan wearer’, Chopping’s act opened with a series of one liners that paved the way for a rather raucous guide to his sexual history, my personal highlight of which was a confrontation with his (much) older girlfriend’s bridge partner. Chopping kept the laughs flowing and the audience enticed with his relaxed style, witty anecdotes and engaging stories so much so that by the time Stephen Grant reappeared to bring on the next act, the audience and I felt as if our time with Chris had been cut short.
Photo credit: davidjordancomedy.com.jpg
Accompanied by his guitar, the rather portly David Jordan opened with the threat of a crowd surf before launching straight into his first musical number, “Heterosexual fairy”. After this, he embarked on a ‘fat guy sales pitch’ that left the audience in hysterics, before treating us to a rendition of his song “David vs Dave” in which the virtuous David was pitted against the white van-driving Dave. A couple of stories followed this number before, after a plea for the audience to put their electronic cigarettes in the air, Jordan flew the flag for women everywhere in his song “Lady hair” which encouraged women to “reclaim their bush”, after which the entire theatre was buzzing. Jordan’s charisma and musical accompaniment was instrumental in crafting an act that delivered laughs on tap and left the audience straining for more. A definite favourite of mine and certainly one to watch out for in the future.
Another intermission followed Jordan, before the audience, already seated and eagerly awaiting the final section of the evening, were greeted once again by Grant. He began with a brief comment upon Exeter’s ‘nutter’ population recounting a meeting with a bin bag clad gentleman on his way to the gig, to which the audience gave a knowing chortle, before Grant moved swiftly on to engage with the crowd and ready them for the appearance of Chris Martin.
Upon taking to the stage, Martin confirmed that Coldplay sadly would not be making an appearance. A phenomenal observationalist, Martin’s act consisted of a series of stories and observations that were knitted together into a comic patchwork of takes on everyday life, ranging from an examination of the conditions that make it socially acceptable to eat MacDonald’s, to a slating of dentists and in-law-imposed sex bans, and finally, the apparent absence of traffic wardens at cocktail parties. Big or small, it seems that no subject is immune from Martin’s critical commentary, and it is this all-encompassing approach that keeps his act moving along.
Exeter’s inaugural evening at the Krater Comedy Club had been a rip roaring success. The willingness of the audience to get involved with the acts and the presence of such a diverse group of talented comedians combined to produce a witty, intelligent and hugely charismatic show. Let’s hope that this fixture is here to stay; I know I will certainly be back next month.