Review: Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival Preview Show at De Montfort Hall
Review by Gemma Collins
It's been said before and I'll say it again, the Comedy Festival Preview Show gives the best exchange rate of punchlines per pound you're ever going to get.
The 'smorgasbord' of a show, as our magical MC Dave Spikey repeatedly referred to it, featured bite-sized sets from the sublime to the ridiculous. And it didn't disappoint.
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Spikey's an old pro - his gags the stuff of stand-up dreams, his interplay and analysis the basis for clever, laugh-after-every-line comedy. And while there was a hint of nervousness in his desire to make the show run smoothly, it was an endearing rather than distracting edge.
First up was Jimmy 'come here' Cricket, who warmed an initially cold crowd with his oooo- and aahh-inducing jokes and fumbled juggling. Familiar, yet surprisingly fresh, his set was to be respected.
Next came the self-effacing Pat Cahill, a comedian so speedy and succinct, it was exhilarating and exhausting to be in the same room as him. His coat hanger mic holder was pretty special too.
The miserable Matt Rees proved the biggest hit. His jokes touched where it hurt with quips about failed diets and a pocket book of foreplay he'd found in his parents' room. Matt's new to the circuit, our Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year 2012, and it's a shame he won't be on during the festival. He's definitely one to watch.
Finishing the first half was the dithery singer-songwriter John Shuttleworth. On his vintage keyboard he was the master of silly sounds and shared snippets from a few of his old favourites, including Y Reg and I Can't Go Back to Savoury Now. His lust for the lyrical mustered just enough laughs to keep us going until the second half.
A successful hybrid of both comedian and magician - let's call him a comagician - Piff the Magic Dragon and his sidekick, a moonwalking Chihuahua called Mr Piffles, brought the house down. Piff's deadpan, can't-be-bothered attitude made his trick of pulling an audience member's signed playing card out of a sealed can of dog meat all the more gobsmackingly hilarious.
Suzi Ruffell is single. She's also gay. Normally you wouldn't get to know such personal detail within the first few minutes of meeting someone, but when you're a comedian, your life story is fair game. She's funny. Not in a slap your leg and roll your head back way, but funny all the same.
Thank God for Gary Delaney. Politically incorrect, sexually inept, self-deprecating and as daft as, erm, a barrel of monkeys - anyone who can do 15 minutes of nothing but one-liners and get a laugh every pop is worthy of a second look.
I'd like to see Tony Law again too. His physical, surreal style of comedy was undoubtedly what the discerning Leicester comedy crowd wanted that night. He describes his look as part-pirate, part-viking. But don't ask me what he said. It was too random to remember.
The final act was a bit of a surprise, in celebration of the festival's 20th birthday. They call it The Greatest Show On Legs. You'll probably know it as 'that naked balloon dance Keith Chegwin once performed which made you feel sick.'
The cast was Martin Soan, Bob Slayer and our man from earlier, Pat Cahill. It was a disturbingly uproarious finale to a fantastic night of comedy. And after all, every good party needs a stripper.