We’ve just come back from tonight’s Comedy Store Late (1a Oxendon Street, one minute’s walk off Leicester Square towards Piccadilly Circus; Lates start every Friday and Saturday at 11pm, admission from 10pm; food and drinks at the bar) and – as you would expect from this nearly 40-year old classic of the London comedy scene – it was a blast!
Comedy Store Regular John Moloney, as seasoned compère who twice won Best Live Performer at the London Comedy Festival, excelled, hitting a gold mine right at the beginning, when he found out that one of the front row couples were from my home town, Munich, and that another front row guest was a teacher. The funny man used to teach German to schoolkids in the UK and even performed a series of gigs in German in Berlin as a comedian.
He picked up the two themes ‘German’ and ‘teacher’ straight away, poking fun about the German language being unromantic (for example: ‘Brustwarzen’ means nipples and literally translates into ‘breast warts’; it’s true, never realised it might sound awkward to a foreigner, strange in hindsight) and telling tales of his times as teacher.
Two of the funniest parts were when he reiterated a conversation he might have had with a parent complaining that their son had attention deficit syndrome and shouldn’t be judged too harshly, while losing the plot mid-sentence drifting off to a different topic, and when he recounted how one day he got hold of one of the worst disrupters’ exercise book and secretly scribbled into it with his left hand “Mr Moloney is a wanker” resulting in the student being excluded from classes for two weeks. “But Mr Moloney, I didn’t do it.” “Yes, I know, kid, but who is the headmaster going to believe, you or me?”
The first act, Mike Gunn, called “one of the top ten stand-ups in the land” by The Independent, was then ploughing in right from the beginning with absolutely hilarious, rough jokes like: “How do I know I’m not gay, if I’ve never tried it? Well, I once went to an orgy and stayed too long, ended up yawning, and got more than I bargained for, I can tell you. Really didn’t like the way he was holding my head.”
Rob Deering, who followed on a newcomer just before the break, was clearly the highlight of the night in most of the audience’s view (I probably preferred Gunn). He was switching effortlessly between bits of musical slapstick where he life-recorded bits of singing, making drum and other sounds, and riffs from his guitar, and layered them real-time one over the other to end up with a potpourri of 1980s songs, and traditional stand-up comedy.
His Comedy Store profile is spot on when it mentions: “With his easy charm, cheesy singing voice, razor-sharp wit and clownish physicality Rob has quickly established himself as a firm favourite on the London circuit.”
Canada’s Allyson June Smith, another former school teacher who found fame in comedy, also was a delight to watch.
The final act of the – by then – early morning, multi award-winning comedian Nathan Caton, star of the critics and well-known from television, was maybe slightly falling behind the sky-high expectations of the audience, focussing too much on his all-to-well-known ‘I still live with my mother, have you seen house prices in London recently’ routine, but was still a great finish to a fabulous evening. Referencing the ‘White Widow’, a white woman who a few years ago was discovered to be the mastermind behind atrocious IS terrorist attacks in Kenya, he explained how he started to be really scared of the terror danger from white women, and how one night he and a (just like him black, tall, and physically fit) friend of his were walking along a dark street in a bad part of town when they saw this ‘dodgy-looking, young, white woman’ (the terror of this experience still in his wild eyes) approach them on their side of the street, leading to them crossing over to the other side of the street to avoid the imminent threat. Funny stuff.