Friday, June 02, 2023

Comic Cuts — 2 June 2023

Just after finishing last week's column, we headed out to a local comedy club, which this month was being held at the back of the Horse & Groom pub. We haven't been for a few years, but this was one we jumped at as the headline act was Ria Lina, one of a number of comedians that we have wanted to see live.

The evening's three comedians
The Funny Farm is a ramshackle club night, consisting of a backdrop, a couple of lights, a couple of speakers and a microphone. The audience were sat under a wooden structure known as "the stables", with a marquee tent on one side and the pub garden on the other. Much was made of newcomers in the garden eventually graduating to regulars, when they would be offered the "posher" seating.

Hazel, who runs the show, was on the ball, making a joke about the car that had crashed into the gates at the end of Downing Street two hours before the gig started. There were two very good support acts: Daman Bamrah, who makes much of his Sikh heritage to bring something new to his comedy; and Alexis Roy, who is from Southend. Both gave solid, confident performances that we both enjoyed.

Ria Lina was excellent. Lots of interaction with the audience and even some interaction with a couple of magpies that began heckling nearby—the downside to an outdoor gig: noisy birds and the rumble of traffic. This was WIP gig, a work in progress, so there was some new material being tested on the audience, although delivered with such confidence that it didn't break the flow of her set. (I've seen comedians with clipboards putting ticks and crosses against jokes as they try out new stuff... here it was done more subtly as we spotted Ria setting up a camera ahead of her performance.)

It was our first gig in some while—I don't think I've been to one since seeing Nish Kumar last year. We already have another lined up, as we will be seeing Urzila Carlson in September. She's a South African comedian living in New Zealand, and we know her thanks to the wonderful network of people who sneakily post Oz and NZ comedy shows at various places online. With the British topical panel show now decimated and the writer's strike taking American late night shows off the air, thank whatever god you worship for 7 Days, Have You Been Paying Attention and The Cheap Seats. We've had a tough couple of months and need a good laugh. I'm hoping that Urzila will get a fantastic reception in Colchester and let all her panel show pals know that it's worth coming to the UK.

We've had some major gardening fun this week. We'd managed to tame quite a bit of the lower level explosion of growth that comes with Spring, but mentioned to our landlady that one of the trees was overshadowing everything and starting to encroach on next door's garden. (For us, the chief problem was that birds would sit in its overhanging branches and poop on the washing underneath. That and the catkins—it is a silver birch—which get everywhere.)

You'll see from the photographs what a difference it has made. Chopping down and carting the branches around to the front of the house took two guys seven hours; one guy has been back and taken one load of cuttings to the dump, but will probably have to come back a couple of extra times—I think he might have underestimated quite how big the tree had grown!

I'm taking some time off from cleaning up artwork and have been writing a few introductions. One is for an upcoming reprint of Billy the Kid comic strips and I've completed another intro for one of the thrillers that will be coming out from Bear Alley Books in the not-too-distant future. That's two of the books finished—all but the cover art—and I have a third introduction on the go. So we're getting there... slowly but surely. I still have number four introduction to write, and two others relating to another author, plus another comic reprint intro., although I'm waiting on the artwork for that one.

That should keep me busy.

(* The odd juxtaposition of the two pictures at the head of the column is deliberate so I can make a joke on Facebook. But don't look, because it's terrible . You'll understand why Mel likes to go out and watch professionals at work rather than put up with my awful puns.)

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