On Thursday nights at the Frog and Bucket, the accent is on value for money and we certainly get that. For a basic admission cost of £9, there’s an ebullient host (Dave Ward) and four comedians. Drinks are relatively cheap for Manchester city centre and the interior of the club is clean and welcoming.
First up is Geordie comic, Seymour Mace, who looks like a cross between Eric Morecambe and Elvis Costello. He favours a sly, much put-upon persona, which doesn’t always connect with the crowd, but I really liked his closing routine where he imagined himself as a backing singer for Gladys Knight. (One of the Pips?) He demonstrated a flair for movement and visual comedy, something that he might want to develop more.
Liam Tulley is an impassive young stand-up who could do with a little more confidence than he’s currently showing. There are some decent gags peppered through his ten minute spot, but he has a tendency to rattle through the material, where a more measured delivery would reap dividends. That’s something that will surely come with experience.
Mike Milling is a different kind of comic entirely. A bearded, hyperactive chap in shorts, he leaps onstage and with a series of hand drawn cartoons, outlines his plans for a blockbuster sequel to Snakes On A Plane, Jack Russell’s in a Caravan. It’s faintly surreal and occasionally very funny, but once again, the short time slot works against him.
The evening’s headliner is Jeff Innocent, a Londoner and his evident professionalism sets him apart from his fellow comics on tonight’s bill. We’ve caught his act before at the Comedy Store in London, where he came on dressed in combat gear, looking very aggressive and proceeded to charm everyone by being the exact opposite of what we expected. His approach to comedy is clever and he delights in confounding expectations. He’s certainly on fine form tonight, describing himself as the ‘jewish Bruce Willis’ and pointing out how confusing it must be for people who expect him to be a racist only to discover that he’s really quite the opposite. He works the crowd expertly and is rewarded with hearty laughter. He’s given the lion’s share of the running time and it simply zips by. Almost before we know it, the show’s over and it’s time to head home.
The ‘Frog’ has been Manchester’s foremost comedy club for something like 20 years and those looking for a night of good value entertainment could do a lot worse than trying their regular Thursday night sessions.