REVIEW: Strange anecdotes and controlled chaos

Danny’s Comedy Club, The Birch Hotel, Haywards Heath, Friday, February 28

It was a bitterly cold night for comedy at the Birch Hotel last Friday, but Danny’s Comedy Club still had a healthy turnout.

The first performer was singer Natalie Howe whose Whitney Huston-esque vocals managed to be both loud and tuneful. This can be a risky style to attempt (some singers just shout), but Natalie showed remarkable control over her voice, never losing track of the melody.

The evening’s first comedian David Jesudason spent a bit too long fishing for material from the audience. However, David’s set picked up when he told some ethnicity-related anecdotes and he got some good laughs when describing his Dad’s tactless observations about the world.

Fresh-faced Josh Dolin had an innocent look but a not-so-innocent sense of humour. His material about pranks offered the audience amusing mental images without the comic having to go into much detail. For example, Josh likes to leave notes in the back of taxis that read: “You are in incredible danger. Get out now.”

Saban Kazim seemed to get laughs by relying on delivery alone. His deadpan, almost monosyllabic, anecdotes were hilarious despite the fact that they recounted fantastically boring events complete with a variety of anti-climaxes. His moments of repetition were well-timed too, allowing the audience to laugh at the wonderful pointlessness of it all.

Egyptian-Californian Dalia Malek got a decent response with observations about contraceptives and how men generally don’t like funny women. Her best moment, though, came when describing a true story about a bandit, who apologized when he robbed people. Her solution: take the robbery really personally and guilt the robber into giving up.

After the break, Natalie Howe returned for another powerful number. Then, it was over to Robin Cousins. He got a good response with a largely improvised set, which included a pretend panicked reaction to the presence of a reviewer (yours truly). It was funny, deliberately unstructured stuff and he proudly admitted to only having “two jokes” in his set. “Put that in your review,” he quipped.

Nigel Lovell had some solid anecdotes about saying the wrong things but was funniest when offering groan-inducing puns. “God, I hate undertakers,” he moaned after describing how a hearse zoomed past him on the inside lane of a motorway.

Audience interaction can be risky for stand-ups but it really worked for Mat Ewins.

Throughout the set Mat gave people devices for making sound effects and then told stories that required noises at the correct moments.

It all went completely wrong, of course, opening up opportunities for mock chastisement.

In an amusing turnaround, one audience member decided to bite back and critiqued Mat’s more bizarre material while the set was still going on.

The comedian had to think on his feet but pulled everything together into a satisfying display of controlled chaos.

By Lawrence Smith