By Jack Holmes
Manchester’s comedy scene gets to pat itself on the back once again after last night’s comedy gig at the Tiger Lounge. The show, as part of a new wave of comedy gigs announced across Manchester, featured host Danny Mcloughlin, Tom Little, Chris Cantrill and headliner from across the pond, Nick Thune. And, if the rest of the shows continue in this fashion, we’re all going to be very jolly people.
For a reasonable door fee I honestly can’t say what I was expecting to find in the basement bar of Tiger Lounge, but the night went above and beyond in every aspect. Cheap drinks, friendly staff and a communal feel to the evening made for a laid back event that without a doubt had every member of the audience leave feeling thoroughly entertained.
Opening the show was host Danny Mcloughlin, who has been making his name at gigs across Manchester and Chester. His impressively rapid wit often seems too good to not be scripted. There’s no doubt about that though as most of his material comes from his interactions with the audience including a postman, and a mother from the back row. The latter even becomes the celebrity of the evening, getting a mention from just about every comic on the stage for offering some “witty banter” almost as funny as the professionals with the microphones. Mcloughlin keeps the communal aspect that gives the night its real appeal at the forefront of his set and comes across as one of the friendliest guys in the place, the crowd aren’t forced to interact with him, they welcome it.
Next up is Tom Little, who won the Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year award just last
year. His strong suit is his pop culture references, including a thoroughly entertaining anecdote about his crippling fear of the Sonic the Hedgehog death sound effect, featuring some impressive timing of the joke to fit with the video sound effects playing on his phone. He makes it look far easier than it actually is. The only slight downside, and it is slight, is the build up time that he often needs to pull off his jokes. Still, they’re worth the wait.
Chris Cantrill follows, and this is a bold statement but, the first half of his set gives Nick Thune a run for his money. Interesting delivery methods keep the audience on their toes and his ad-lib was surprisingly effective considering his set had clearly been largely planned out in advance. It’s hard to pick highlights from his set because of the sheer number of hilarious one-liners mixed into every one of his anecdotes from working as an exorcist to living with his small mouth and Bart Simpson-esque voice combo.
Nick Thune finally headlines what ends up being a full two and half hour night. The Seattle comic mixes his deadpan delivery method and tales of immaturity with witty and stylish one liners from the start of his hour set, right through to the finish. He’s appeared on a number of late night chat shows in the US including Conan and Jimmy Fallon, having previously delivered parts of the nights set on Jimmy Fallon.
Thune has just finished a six night run down in London which he speaks of less than fondly. With the Guardians review slamming his style as containing no “structure or climax”, having seen the same set myself, it feels as if, dare I say, the Guardian has missed the point. Thune manages to expertly combine far more elements of storytelling into his anecdotes than the standard comedian. He doesn’t need to rush from set up to set up, wasting time building up a punchline before reaping the reward, almost every sentence of dialogue feels expertly constructed to maximize amusement. I don’t know whether to compare it to science or poetry, but it’s hilarious either way.
Nowhere is this style more apparent than in the final two anecdotes of the show, one focusing on suicide, one on a homophobic attack. These are by no means new territory for comedy, but the way Thune structures his set it brings you so far into the story you’re far more involved than the dark humour of a Frankie Boyle or Louis CK. So in his final joke when he speaks about a true story that he describes as having “changed how he walks in cities that he doesn’t live in”, the audience are not simply listening to Thune for his comedic talents, but his storytelling skill as well. If that’s not the sign of an entertainer with potential I’m not sure what is.
Check out Group Therapy Comedy for upcoming gigs from Josie Long, Daniel Kitson and Brendon Burns.