27th May 2017: stand-up about communication, tattoos and feminist poetry from gender-balanced line-up by María Ordovás-Montañés
Little did I know that the basement of the Jericho Café where I ate Easter brunch with my coursemates would be repurposed into a sold-out underground comedy venue a few weeks later. Subtract the tea, eggs, and toast, add several dozen chairs, procure a microphone, find a few brave souls, lower the lights, and you have the recipe for an enjoyable evening.
Alex Faroe effortlessly served the dual roles of host and compère, doing his own call-ons and warming up the audience. I assumed that sitting in the first row might mean getting singled out, but I did not know my boyfriend would be the first victim: as an American, he was asked to name UK stereotypes, and he became a running joke for several acts, thought it was all in good fun. I especially liked Faroe's post-interval instructional game. Being a philosophy teacher, he did not miss a chance for a learning opportunity to demonstrate that we should not be so quick to judge whether a quotation is a dirty rap lyric from the last two decades, or a line from twentieth century feminist poet Gertrude Stein. Overall, Faroe kept the energy flowing throughout the show; I would like to see him perform a long set next time.
The six comedians performed in rapid-fire succession. They had just enough time to give us a taste of their style but it was not so long for them to lose the audience's interest. Heidi Regan told us about her receptionist career-move from Australia to London, recited a mock-serious poem, and then became political; she hilariously melded together past historical references with current pop culture. Chris D'Silva, probably the youngest comedian of the evening and an American living abroad, engaged the mostly-British audience in his 'Love Letter to New York' by turning it into an ode to pizza. In the third act, Jake Farrell highlighted the importance of clear communication when making plans with a friend and cheekily poked fun at the 'diversity' in his hometown of Stevenage.
After the interval, we were treated to more feminist poetry, with Verity Babbs' 'Men Are Like Sharks'. Babbs was the first comic to joke about her name and made us laugh about getting lukewarm medical results from the NHS over text. Cat Stirling echoed Farrell's sentiments for clearer communication, as evidenced by a sad-turned-funny story from a work Christmas party. Despite the popularity of emojis, Stirling got us to think about what the 'old school' colon and parenthesis faces might truly indicate about happiness and sadness. Rounding out the evening, James Shakeshaft was the sharpest-dressed comedian, which he of course pointed out, and was the second person to make name jokes. We learned about his visits to Starbucks, his hatred of eggs, and in 'there was an old lady who swallowed a fly' fashion, Shakeshaft emphatically delivered a hypothetical story about tattoos within tattoos.
I applaud the comedians for trying out new material, including poems with a comedic twist. Further, I commend Jericho Comedy for hosting a balanced show with three men and three women (something that I would have liked to see in the Glee Club show I attended last month). Also, I preferred Jericho's six quick acts because it keeps the show moving. I plan to go again, just next time I might think twice before sitting in the front row.
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