Barnstormers Comedy, The Capitol, Horsham, Sunday, January 19
It’s a full house at The Capitol’s studio as compere Kevin Precious walks onstage to greet an audience eager for a new year of riotous stand-up.
Well, almost a full house…
A line of seats are curiously empty and a group of latecomers offer Kevin an obvious target for his mocking enquiries and quick-witted remarks.
Kevin’s probing questions lead him into jokes about pilots, cabin crew and the alleged age barriers faced by mature people living in Crawley. He can’t resist the old favourites either, drawing attention to visual similarities between Horsham’s Shelley Fountain and something naughty.
John Ryan’s no-nonsense outlook gets an enthusiastic response. He has an amusing (if slightly cruel) take on health and safety, mocking people who see high-visibility jackets as a substitute for common sense.
John’s observations about pesky “ethnic monitoring” forms are good too. These are a common irritation, but the way John makes his main point is impressive. He ridicules the pointlessness of asking where someone’s family is from “originally” by giving a condensed account of humankind’s evolutionary history, tracing everyone’s family back to Africa in one breath.
Despite these clever ideas the strongest moments of John’s set are more lowbrow. His treatment of his drunken son gets incredulous laughs, while his revolutionary technique for getting a teenage boy to tidy his room is pure gold.
After the break, Harriet Kemsley delivers a short set of quirky and occasionally dirty jokes. Her outgoing, yet agitated style works well, successfully treading a fine line between cute and weird.
Audience members seem to have consumed a healthy amount of alcohol by the time the guitar-wielding Steve Gribbin appears with his blend of topical comedy and music.
Mini songs about Nigella Lawson and Vladimir Putin get big laughs but Steve does great impressions and accents too. His portrayal of an upper class gentleman trying to infiltrate the Taliban is both hysterical and a little scary.
Most of Steve’s songs are short but he shows off his powerful voice during his final number, a side-splitting tune about the British equivalent of Fifty Shades of Grey.
It seems like the Barnstormers acts this evening have been arranged in order of ascending rudeness.
The final act, Dan Evans, offers a set crammed full of filthy jokes. This kind of humour can be risky but Dan’s happy-go-lucky style gets the audience on his side. His use of imagery is certainly creative too, as the sharp-suited comic reveals bizarre but colourful fantasies that would make even the most prudish person struggle to keep a straight face.
By Lawrence Smith