All Hands and Hearts comedy night at Up The Creek

For May’s Cog Night we took a short walk to Up The Creek for a stand-up night in aid of the charity, All Hands and Hearts. Anna assesses the talent on stage.

Up The Creek is probably the closest venue to our studio. Perhaps it’s because it feels so close to home that we don’t often consider it for Cog Nights.

But when we received Daniel Kitson’s recent, and always hilarious, email round-up, and it included details of him compering a charity gig, we booked straight away.

As usual Daniel seemed to have prepared very little material. He wandered on stage and began chatting with the audience, including banter with a distinctively tattooed man who seemed to have deliberately positioned himself very conspicuously next to the stage (and later revealed that he’d been verbally abused at a previous Kitson gig). Some people love the attention, don’t they?

Two young men wearing glasses pose in red light with wooden backdrop

Tom and Dan, bathed in the red light of comedy.

In his seemingly unprepared and rambling way, Daniel warmed us up with anecdotes about eating too much, about living alone, and by asking people what they’d had for lunch. It’s hard to think of another act that can get away with such mundane chatter and still have the audience (including the other comedians) in stitches.

Talking about his day turned into chat about playing football with other comedians, and with the representative from tonight’s charity. They are evidently all friends. That opened the door to mention of Joel Dommett’s CrossFit regime, a theme that he returned to many times through the evening.

Josh Widdicombe opened the bill which felt a little odd as he was probably the best-known name. We later found out that he’d had to rush off to a ‘proper’ gig so maybe that’s why we didn’t get much of his best material. Actually much of his act was taken up by discovering one of the front row lived on his street – their banter descended into a chat about local personality Tommy Walsh – perhaps more interesting for them than for the rest of us.

A group of young people stand in a bar smiling

The Cog team, in the bar at Up The Creek.

Ed Gamble was next on. His anecdotes ranged from celebrity holidays to diabetes and guide dogs. While his shouty delivery didn’t win him many fans, within the Cog team, one joke got the award of Tom’s biggest laugh-of-the-night: he laughed out loud at the idea of a snake on a lead.

Annie McGrath was the sole female act on the bill which was a shame; it’s always funnier to have various female viewpoints in an evening. I wish she had been less confrontational but perhaps that’s a state of mind that comes when you’re the only woman in a male environment.

Two young men stand in the red light of a bar

Ehti and Jack, causal in the interval between acts.

After a mercifully short (but obviously impassioned) chat from the charity’s representative, the headliner Joel Dommett came on. Suitably indignant at being outed as a CrossFit user he charmed us from the get-go.

In an energetic performance he pounced around the stage, bringing a real physicality to each of his stories. His material included an hilariously embarrassing car park side-pee, and a fully acted impression of his younger self, driving a low-slung hatchback with Les Mis blasting from the sound-system.

As with most mixed bill comedy there were highs and lows, but our stand out was, of course, the mercurial Daniel Kitson’s hosting. We left smiling and determined to return more often.

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