‘Stand-up comedy is a raunchy profession’ – Aziz Ansari
It’s safe to say I come from a long line of laughers. We’re a close family who love to get together, crack open a bottle or five and sit around and laugh at each other. So it’s also safe to say that we try and go and see live comedy as often as possible. The Hyena in Newcastle used to be our laugh-factory du jour but have recently been frequenting the Stand on High Bridge instead (their beef nachos are pretty amazing if nothing else).
Here’s an amazing statistic for you fact fans: 49% of the population of Newcastle have never been to a stand up show before. Considering how many amazing venues we have in the city, I find this remarkable. With that in mind I was chuffed to be invited along to the Live Theatre just off the Quayside to check out a series of gigs that local comedian Chris Ramsey was putting on a comedy roadshow in conjunction with Swift Cover Insurance. Seeing as it was my birthday, thought it would be the perfect night out, after all, there’s nothing funny about turning 34.
Chris wasn’t actually there himself, which is a shame as we’d watched his ‘All Growed Up’ tour DVD over Christmas and thought it was brilliant , however the acts that were on were thoroughly entertaining nonetheless. Compare Steve Bugeja (Winner of the 2013 BBC New Comedy Award) had his own style of awkward nerdy comedy that we’ve seen from the likes of James Acaster, he seemed nervous to start with, which makes me nervous too, but after a bit of banter with the audience (the venue is very intimate so allows the performers to get over familiar) he seemed to fall into his stride and kept the show together well, definitely promising!
First act of the night was Bilal Zafar who instead of offering the usual 20 minute set of observational comedy that seems so popular at the moment, treated us to a powerpoint presentation to tell a story of how he took on some bigoted twitter trolls by pretending to run the UK’s first Muslim only cake shop. Turns out there’s a lot of humour to be found in the uneducated racists of Britain. For me he was the best performer on the night by far and I’m excited to see what he comes up with next after this act has run its course.
Headliner was local lad Carl Hutchinson, who’s fresh off tour from supporting Chris Ramsey. He starts off well after asking people to shout out answers to some controversial questions he puts up on the screen. To me the sign of a great comedian is someone who can talk to Barry from Gateshead who works in a call centre and find the funny – and Carl definitely had that talent. His stage presence and charisma is infectious, he’s the type of person I imagine is an absolute riot to go for a drink with and though he was funny, he just wasn’t ‘oh my god I have to see him again’ funny.
It was the first time I’d ever been to the Live Theatre and I absolutely feel in love with it. Unlike the Stand the seats are cinema style so much more comfortable and the room is big enough to get a good atmosphere and small enough to still feel intimate. We’ll definitely be looking out to see more there now we’re aware of its existence. And will absolutely be keeping an eye out to see what these lads get up to in the future!
This was a collaborative post but all views are my own.