Heatons Sports Club, Heaton Moor
The Heatons Sports Club seems an unlikely comedy venue and, indeed, the ad hoc nature of the performance space appears to confirm this: there’s no stage, but there is a badly-erected backdrop with dangerously protruding legs (a trip-hazard if ever I saw one), and a couple of lights rigged a little too low, so that they glare right into the comics’ eyes. Still, it works: the gig is a sell-out, there’s a pleasant, convivial atmosphere, and the bar is tantalisingly cheap.
This is a regular event. The first Sunday of every month sees local sleb Justin Moorhouse as the resident compere, introducing a decent range of comedians. No wonder it’s sold out; it’s rare to find such quality in a suburban venue. Hats off to the organisers for sorting this one out.
Tonight’s gig starts well. Justin Moorhouse is a relaxed MC; he’s in command, effortlessly managing some potentially awkward heckling, remaining good-humoured and engaging throughout his introductory set. He’s funny and silly, and sets the tone for the other acts.
The opener is Will Franken, an American comic who does some decent impressions and raises a few laughs, most notably with his generic ‘person/brand name’ advertisement, which is really very good. He misses the mark a bit with some of his jokes though, straying into territory where he appears to be affirming some of the ‘-isms’ he purports to mock. Still, the crowd seems to like him – and he proves me right about the backdrop, stumbling as he catches his foot on one of those protruding legs…
Clayton Jones is a charming, self-deprecating middle, who takes an easy, conversational tone. His set focuses mainly on his experiences growing up mixed-race in London, before moving to the North West (where he never experiences racism, he says – people are too busy hating him for being a Southerner).
Tonight’s headliner is Dave Johns, a seasoned comic, whom we’ve seen a few times before. His is an assured set, delivering laugh after laugh on topics as diverse as his divorce, a Travelodge and the theme from Goldfinger. He also demonstrates that jokes about Isis can be topical, funny and yet inoffensive, with a clever gag about his little girl. Ok, so he does come across as slightly sleazy at one point, attempting to seduce a young woman in the front row with the promise of a Toffee Crisp, but it’s all done with a smile and a wink, and no one could really take offence. He’s due to take the lead in Ken Loach’s new film, I, Daniel Blake, so we’re sure to be hearing more from this comedian before long.
All in all, the Heatons Comedy Evening is a real success, and we’ll definitely be returning. Book now for the next one on June 5th.