Written By: Mark Armstrong
Date: November 27 2015
Location: Laughterhouse Comedy, Mathew Street, Liverpool
Laughterhouse Comedy now has a new home on Mathew Street! To mark this, a special opening night of comedy was arranged, featuring a number of acts well-known to those who regularly engage in having their funny bones tickled. Each act brought something different, meaning that each act found their own unique way (at times a very unique way) to get the audience laughing.
The night’s compere was Chris Cairns, a Liverpool-born comedian who is a regular fixture on the local comedy circuit. Although his role was primarily to introduce each act, he also had plenty of good material to ensure that the crowd was in good spirits before each part of the show would begin. Sitting in the audience, it was frustrating to see certain members of the crowd trying to regularly interrupt the flow of things either by heckling or by talking amongst themselves loud enough to distract from Cairns’ own routines. At first, Chris tried to quash the chit-chat with clever one-liners, but after a while it was clearly becoming as tiresome to Chris as it was to the crowd. Nevertheless, as something of a veteran to the world of stand-up comedy, Chris was able to overcome this and, in fact, despite serving as the intermediate between acts, his jokes were amongst the funniest of the night.
The first main act was long-time stand-up comic Mick Miller. Having been performing for decades (he was one of the stars of ITV’s show The Comedians in the 1970s), Mick had a wealth of quips and observations which were at times very short but nearly always hilarious. In contrast to many comedians who regularly tour the country and appear on television nowadays, Miller is a master at actually telling jokes rather than stories (although he did provide one or two tales with a humorous edge). Covering a wide spectrum of subjects, from Tourette’s Syndrome to Noddy to his own unusual hairstyle (bald with a stretch of hair just above the back of his neck), it was hard not to find moments in his act which one would be repeating to their family and friends when the show was over. The sound levels made it hard at times to hear some of his jokes, leading to one or two awkward silences at times, but that aside, Miller definitely provided a strong opening, and was probably the star performer of the evening.
Performer number two was Jo Caulfield, who had a more contemporary approach to comedy. Her routine was more about observations, particularly those on her own marriage and relationships and sex in general. Some of her opinions threatened to be controversial, but not to the point of being offensive, and let’s face it; in a comedy club, there’s a good chance that the audience is at times immune to eyebrow-raising jokes, so in this setting, she fitted in perfectly, and her more feminist routine acted as a nice alternative to the other performers on stage. I had heard some parts of her act at a previous show which slightly affected my own enjoyment, but those who have never seen her before should have been satisfied.
Next up was Neil Fitzmaurice, he of Phoenix Nights, The Office and, of course, 15 Minutes That Shook The World. A genuine born-and-bred Liverpudlian, he made frequent references to Liverpool the city and Liverpool the football team, but mixed them in with some humorous opinions on everyday life and situations. To a younger audience, his name carried the most weight in terms of fame (to an older generation, Mick Miller would be seen as the person to look out for), but fame rarely entered into his thinking; it felt like simply watching a local lad giving his thoughts, usually some very funny thoughts, on everything from the evolution of computer games to attractive women who you’re trying not to look at, but find a way to do so without drawing attention (his suggestion on how to deal with this was particularly amusing).
Finally, filling in at short notice for John Bishop (well, he wasn’t officially announced, but a surprise local headline act was hinted at with some fairly obvious clues; unfortunately, John was unable to make it on the night) was The Boy With Tape On His Face. The Boy (as I’ll refer to him from here) used visual props and members of the audience to elicit laughter, accompanied by unexpected yet hilariously awkward music. In some parts, it was having oven gloves seeing Endless Love; in others, it was dressing up an on-looker before the cue began for You Can Leave Your Hat On (you can see where that was going). He also did some unusual antics of his own, one being an attempt to have a ball-on-a-string lift into a cup which he was holding in his (taped) mouth. It was a bit unnerving to sit there knowing there was a possibility that I’d be the next person to be up there with him, but it was definitely unpredictable, and an act worth seeing in the future (try sitting near the back or on a balcony just to be safe though!).
On the whole, I really enjoyed this evening. The downsides were the delayed start time (8.30pm instead of 8pm), which meant a fairly late finish; the decision to have a break between every act (as everyone performed for roughly 15-20 minutes, one or two breaks across the night would have been better); the slightly muffled audio at times; and the aforementioned members of the audience who weren’t very considerate at times (of which, I stress, there were only a minority). However, every act was funny in their own way, and the venue itself provides a perfect forum to sit back and enjoy a night of funny jokes, stories and visuals. If you’re considering a night of stand-up comedy in future, I would definitely recommend going along to Laughterhouse Comedy on Mathew Street, as there will be many more wonderful and humorously weird acts to come.
Overall Rating: 8.5/10 – Excellent