About 2 Blow **** 4/5
Saturday 27th April 2013
Regular followers of the Black comedy circuit are used to seeing the same faces headlining shows all over the country. Nothing wrong with that per se. After all, people want to see the likes of Slim, Kojo, Quincy, Felix Dexter and Glenda Jaxson. They sell tickets and bring in audiences. However once you’ve seen a big name act such as Slim, Kojo or Curtis Walker you’ve seen their act. What next? Are there any other comedians about to breakthrough and start headlining shows in their own right?
LOL Show UK set out to answer that question and show that there are talented comedians out there with the potential to make that breakthrough to the next level. In a show entitled, ‘About2Blow’ at the Bloomsbury Theatre, Central London, seven comedians, all young Black men (except one) in their 20’s or early 30’s headlined a showcase of fresh talent to the Black comedy circuit. Babatunde, Axel, Travis Jay, Mo the Comedian, Aurie Styla, Mikey Carpenter and Dane Baptiste.
Before the show had even started you got the sense this was a gamble that was going to pay off. Financially at least as a very good turnout from a young audience made for a great atmosphere and showed that people would turn up in their numbers for a big theatre show without a well established name headlining.
Were they about to blow? Let’s see.
Arguably the man with the toughest job of the night – as host, keeping the show running along nicely, the jokes flowing and managing the audience and links between each act.
Some might say he was ‘deece’ (as in decent … a running joke during the show) but I
Would go so far as to say I think Babatunde was a brilliant host. He was consistently funny throughout, with good natured, humorous interaction with the audience.
He dealt well with latecomers (though if we’re going to boo latecomers. then perhaps we should boo the host for starting 30 minutes late too!!)
His set covered his unusual name, differences between African’s and Caribbean culture, attitudes and diet. His set even extended to amusing tales of the ‘birds and the bees’.
Babatunde is also an accomplished Actor and he doubtless intends to maintain a dual career as an Actor and Comedian. Many have done so – Angie Le Mar, Lateef Lovejoy and Richard Blackwood and countless American’s such as Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Chris Tucker and Kevin Hart. I can’t comment on his acting, but I’m certain that as a Comedian Babatunde has a bright future ahead of him.
Excellent performance from Aurie Styla. Reminiscent of a young Curtis Walker in appearance. A lovely, original opening to his set helped him gauge the age profile of the audience. Good fun and immediately got the audience involved and engaged with him. Great. He was very funny and energetic. I loved his story about the “hench woman” in the gym. Another good anecdoate involved his travels through South London.
Aurie, like many of the acts, made good use of music in his set which down very well and keeps things lively and contemporary. This was the first time I’d seen him perform and he was excellent.
Travis has been on the scene for a few years now and primarily focussed on jokes about being a young father and his recent holiday in Jamaica. Unfortunately he didn’t quite find the funny in this to connect well with the audience. He referenced adverts on Jamaican TV, but as the audience hadn’t seen them and he didn’t quite manage to convey the humour of the adverts it didn’t go down as well as would have hoped for.
The joke about being afraid of spiders and his method of dealing with them was quite funny.
He demonstrated some fine observational skills, but too many were just not belly laugh funny.
The anecdotes about picking up his daughter from school and interacting with her and her school friends didn’t work so well. Putting on a voice as if speaking to a 2 year old when addressing an audience of adults didn’t go down well and went on too long.
I first saw him perform 3 years ago, 10th September 2010, on the line up for his mother, Angie Le Mar’s, 25th anniversary ‘An Audience with Angie Le Mar’ show at the Barbican Centre. There he delivered a far better set than this one, which went down a storm, so I know he can do much better.
I welcome the fact Travis is trying to mine fresh territory in his comedy, trying observational comedy about his life as a young father and not necessarily cover similar material to his 20 something peers. It just needs working on and stage time to polish up and that’s what this is all about after all. Young comedians about to blow up big and become stars of the future.
Mo the Comedian
I loved his set and his opening ‘Gwen McCrae’ routine. The audience loved his mum dance routine as he neatly used a classic Gwen McCrae hit to demonstrate how his mother dances. Judging by the knowing laughter from the packed audience at Bloomsbury Theatre Mrs Mo the Comedian isn’t the only mother who does that.
His set made good use of music and covered clubbing, being single and trying to pull or be pulled whilst out clubbing. All good fun and struck a chord with many in the audience who were heartily laughing along to his routine.
I like his youthful, friendly disposition as he genuinely seems to be enjoying himself on stage and that comes across as almost effortless delivery of his material.
The Afro-Caribbean Leukaemia Trust were present with a stall at the theatre promoting their charity. However coming on stage to open the second half they were given way too much time – 5-7 minutes to promote their work. It’s great what they do trying to save lives via bone marrow donations, but alas it was just too long, too serious and devoid of jokes, which is what people had paid good money to see. They should have been much briefer and to the point.
Their simple message was that from mobiles phones you can quickly and simply donate £3 by texting ACLT to 70300 to help save lives. “Your generosity will enable us to create lasting change in the lives of the many thousands of children & adults around the world who need our collective support.” ACLT
That and a brief call to people to become blood donors is all they needed to say to get their message across and that could have been done in 2 minutes. Maybe they could have worked in some comedy into the message or done it in partnership with a comedian.
Dane Baptiste was hilarious and stole the show. Dane had the audience in stitches with his terrific jokes and deadpan style of delivery. A Black Jack Dee if you like!
Talking about being in a minority in the workplace, he was particularly funny and witty. Referring to how he hated office work and socialising out of hours with colleagues he amusingly explained how family prevented made it difficult for him too. This was a terrific set from Dane and I look forward to seeing him again. Never mind ‘About2Blow’, Dane is already blowing up a storm.
If Dane Baptiste felt in a minority at work, then goodness knows how Mikey Carpenter must have felt as the one white guy on the bill. I guess, pretty much like the one black guy in an all white office.
Mikey looked like a short Phil Mitchell. Fortunately that’s where the similarity ended and he was quite funny. Not everything hit the mark and overall I found the set a bit hit and miss, with no consistent flow of material and laughs. It was the first time I’d seen him, but I’d be interested to see him again.
Coming on at 11pm Axel arguably had the toughest slot of the night. By this stage we’d seen 6 Comedians and Axel was the 7th and final act of the night. He felt the audience energy level was a little flat by the time he entered the stage. He quickly and humorously addressed this saying, “I feel like the last beer at the back of the fridge,” which got him a good laugh and some sympathy.
Sympathy’s the last thing he needed though as he confidently got into his stride and had the audience laughing away to his high energy, highly entertaining set. Maybe the audience were more his peer group than mine, for when he name checked various fashion labels that people used to wear, “back in the day” – (Axel’s and the audience’s day that is, ‘cos it certainly wasn’t my back in the day!!) the audience got it and laughed along.
The way he ran around the stage and flung around the microphone like it was a rag doll was brilliant and anyone tempted to drift off or think this was one act too many would have been rudely awoken.
He covered relationships, London life and entered into plenty of good natured interaction and bantering with the audience. He is supremely confident on the stage and uses the whole of the stage to maximum effect. The close of his set was highly unusual to, which I’ve never seen before. That’s pretty special as there’s not really that many different ways to end a set other than on a strong punch line, but Axel pulled something different out of the bag.
The London Marathon was at the start of the week, Sunday 21st April and though we had 7 acts and they held your attention in the main, it did feel a bit like a comedic marathon. What made the time pass well though was the variety of styles seen and that each had relatively short sets of 15-20 minutes. Sufficient time for each to develop their routine but not too long either. The show was around 3 hours long which is about an hour too long really. I don’t think there’s any need to make a marathon out of a night out at a comedy show. Two hours of good quality comedy is sufficient. I accept though on this occasion it was a showcase of upcoming talent of varying levels of experience and ability so it was necessary to allow more time.
The absence of female talent was noticeable. Is there no female talent about to blow up? When Tiemo hosted the comedy awards in 2012 there were only 3 contenders for ‘Best Young Female’ Comedian, so perhaps there aren’t many and we need to examine why. I’ll return to this topic in a future Blog. In the meantime, you can read here the review of ‘Funny-N-Stiletto’s’ an all, mostly, female show that took place at Broadway Theatre on 6th April 2013 starring Donna Spence, Maureen Younger, Queen Aishah, Vanessa Fraction and Wayne “Dibbi” Rollins.
Overall this was a very funny show. It entertained and kept everyone laughing away for much of the night. The LOL Show UK sought to prove there is life beyond the usual big names of the Black comedy circuit. A number of, how can I put this, longer established members of the comedy circuit were also there to see who’s coming through, including Angie Mar, Mr Cee, Special P and Victor Daniels. The seven comedians showcased without a doubt proved that there is very good talent bubbling away ready to blow up on the Black and mainstream comedy circuit. Look out for them. They’re going to blow you away.
In the forthcoming Black Comedy Awards 2013 a number of the acts that performed will be nominees for ‘Best Young Male’ Comedian. Watch this space.
©Tiemo Talk of the Town
3rd May 2013
For news about the Black Comedy Awards 2013 nominations and awards ceremony please keep an eye on this Blog as well as tiemo where news and information on the awards will be posted in due course.