“Reality lurks beyond this door.”
That’s the words strewn above The Stand exit – a light-hearted comment suggesting the York Place venue offers escapism from the harsh truths of the world outside. Sadly, last night’s stand-ups didn’t quite make you forget about your worries and your strife.
Case in point: compere Bruce Devlin. A man whose crass, smutty repartee consists purely of insulting the audience – the irony was seeing two English lads reprimanded by staff for having the audacity to heckle him.
Make no mistake: should Devlin find himself in the less forgiving surroundings of a Soho comedy club. He’d get eaten alive.
You have to feel sorry for Shelly Cooper, though. Transgender, Cooper’s lifestyle changes form a large part of her material: “I had two kids but no stretch marks”, “lost my virginity twice” – that kind of thing. Clearly nervous (but determined), it’s just unfortunate she was performing to an audience who don’t appreciate her style of comedy.
Gangly idiot, Derek Johnston, on the other hand, derives much of his humour from his rubbery facial expressions. A geeky sort of chap whose long-winded anecdotes occasionally hit the mark, this odd fellow’s best moment came when explaining the number of days left until Christmas. Thirty days for us, perhaps. Think of the Spanish or narcoleptics, however, and you may well get the joke.
Meanwhile, the set by Graeme Thomas, pictured, consisted of one very long gag about, well, cassette tapes. A jittery character who nearly over-ran his time because he finally got a good rhythm going, the thirty-something’s observations on the differences between old-school personal stereos and that of his nephew’s modern-day equivalent was about the extent of his subject matter.
Dave Fulton, however, is the one with the pedigree. A grizzled yet honest jobbing comic, the American looks like a deadbeat but shoots witticisms like a trigger-happy redneck. Guns and motorbikes cover the main topics, but it took a joke about cancer to finally send a full-blooded chuckle rippling through the audience.
An average night by Stand standards – one which made exiting back out into reality almost a relief.