Jericho Comedy Daily Info Review

27th May 2017: stand-up about communication, tattoos and feminist poetry from gender-balanced line-up by María Ordovás-Montañés

Little did I know that the basement of the Jericho Café where I ate Easter brunch with my coursemates would be repurposed into a sold-out underground comedy venue a few weeks later. Subtract the tea, eggs, and toast, add several dozen chairs, procure a microphone, find a few brave souls, lower the lights, and you have the recipe for an enjoyable evening.

Alex Faroe effortlessly served the dual roles of host and compère, doing his own call-ons and warming up the audience. I assumed that sitting in the first row might mean getting singled out, but I did not know my boyfriend would be the first victim: as an American, he was asked to name UK stereotypes, and he became a running joke for several acts, thought it was all in good fun. I especially liked Faroe's post-interval instructional game. Being a philosophy teacher, he did not miss a chance for a learning opportunity to demonstrate that we should not be so quick to judge whether a quotation is a dirty rap lyric from the last two decades, or a line from twentieth century feminist poet Gertrude Stein. Overall, Faroe kept the energy flowing throughout the show; I would like to see him perform a long set next time.

The six comedians performed in rapid-fire succession. They had just enough time to give us a taste of their style but it was not so long for them to lose the audience's interest. Heidi Regan told us about her receptionist career-move from Australia to London, recited a mock-serious poem, and then became political; she hilariously melded together past historical references with current pop culture. Chris D'Silva, probably the youngest comedian of the evening and an American living abroad, engaged the mostly-British audience in his 'Love Letter to New York' by turning it into an ode to pizza. In the third act, Jake Farrell highlighted the importance of clear communication when making plans with a friend and cheekily poked fun at the 'diversity' in his hometown of Stevenage.

After the interval, we were treated to more feminist poetry, with Verity Babbs' 'Men Are Like Sharks'. Babbs was the first comic to joke about her name and made us laugh about getting lukewarm medical results from the NHS over text. Cat Stirling echoed Farrell's sentiments for clearer communication, as evidenced by a sad-turned-funny story from a work Christmas party. Despite the popularity of emojis, Stirling got us to think about what the 'old school' colon and parenthesis faces might truly indicate about happiness and sadness. Rounding out the evening, James Shakeshaft was the sharpest-dressed comedian, which he of course pointed out, and was the second person to make name jokes. We learned about his visits to Starbucks, his hatred of eggs, and in 'there was an old lady who swallowed a fly' fashion, Shakeshaft emphatically delivered a hypothetical story about tattoos within tattoos.

I applaud the comedians for trying out new material, including poems with a comedic twist. Further, I commend Jericho Comedy for hosting a balanced show with three men and three women (something that I would have liked to see in the Glee Club show I attended last month). Also, I preferred Jericho's six quick acts because it keeps the show moving. I plan to go again, just next time I might think twice before sitting in the front row.

Read the original HERE

Stand-up History Daily Info Review

by Lucy Ayrton

Stand-Up History is a nerdy, deeply charming adventure into the funnier bits of history.

In the upstairs room of the Jericho Tavern we were presented with six comics (including the compère). The whole place was packed with archaeologists having a wicked evening, which made for an extremely jolly atmosphere.

Among the comedy there were a variety of impressive facts and the night was genuinely interesting from a historical point of view. I was impressed by how easily the standard comedy fare (religion, bodily functions, Jeremy Clarkson) was laced with information. Here are my favourite nuggets of history from the night:

- Carrots are only orange because of the Dutch Revolt

- Vikings didn't really wear horned helmets

- Tutankhamun had a sword made from ore taken from a meteorite, aka space metal

The two stand-out performers were Paul Duncan McGarrity and Pierre Novellie. McGarrity delivered a beautifully animated description of the little-known ridiculousness of Richard III's death with gusto, and brimmed with enthusiasm for his subject matter and awkward charm. Novellie, headlining the night, had a very enjoyable laid back persona and some cracking material. My favourite sequences were the story of how his family were tricked into relocating in South Africa, and the hapless attempts early Christians made to spread their religion to the Vikings. There was also some gleefully filthy material about medieval Welsh law that had the audience genuinely overwhelmed with mirth.

The only slight shame was that many of the sets seemed not to have a definitive ending, instead trailing off a bit, losing the closure of a final punchline. This was the only time the lack of slickness was a problem rather than an enjoyable part of the style.

The theming of the night was very good fun and added shape and purpose that really elevated the night beyond the usual comedy night fare into something really special. Oxford is the perfect setting for this quirky and fascinating evening, which would be particularly suitable for fans of podcasts like No Such Thing As A Fish and Answer Me This.

Overall this was a gem of an evening. A real treat for history buffs and comedy fans alike.

Read the original HERE

5 Marketing lessons from the world of comedy

I've spent the last 4 years performing stand-up, marketing live comedy events in Oxford, and flyering for shows at the Edinburgh comedy festival.  In the process I've learnt quite a bit about engaging people in the streets, on the stage and online! So here are 5 marketing lessons from the world of comedy:

1. Be Brief

On stage you have to get to the punchlines in as few words as possible without waffling. When flyering you only have a split second as someone walks past you to summarize your show in an appealing soundbite. Comedy teaches you to be concise and not to waste a word, the same applies with content! Keep blogs and posts punchy and to the point to make the most of people's fleeting attention! 

2. Be specific

Specificity is key to letting people know what to expect. With hundreds of thousands of shows at the Edinburgh Fringe punters aren't going to watch a generic 'comedy night', you have to be specific! Be clear, be obvious, let your audience know what they're getting. Don't get bogged down in flowery language or technical jargon, be direct and spell out what you want to say in the simplest way possible.

3. Be targeted

Know your market. You have more success flyering people coming out of a show that is similar to yours rather than flyering random tourists on the street. Think about who your audience is, where they might be, and target them. The same is true of content online, be targeted. If you wouldn't flyer in the middle of the night when your audience isn't awake then you shouldn't post online then either! 

4. Be interesting

On stage as well as in your content grab people's attention. You don't always have to be hilarious, but if you want people to listen to you then you need to always be interesting. If you're saying anything worth reading or watching then people will listen. If you aren't being funny ask yourself - are you at least being interesting?

5. Know your voice

Anyone can tell jokes, but no one sounds like you, recognizing your unique perspective and your expertise is how you let people know you're a thought leader on stage and in your content! Look at your competition and understand what you do differently, what sets you apart is what will make your unique voice shine through in your content.

6. People love lists

Putting things into a list format makes things simple, and digestible. By having a list you are being brief and specific plus you can have some fun by subverting expectations at the end and breaking the rules you've set up!

7. Always leave the audience wanting mor...

Kidding Around

"The most interesting information comes from children, for they tell all they know then stop" 

Mark Twain

Children say the darndest things, which is why they are used frequently as comic devices. Often comedians take on the perspective of a child, or act out interacting with them - so what is it about kids and comedy?

Comics are supposed to look at the world in a different way, with a fresh perspective, ridiculing what the rest of us are used to, in other words, comics need to be naive and immature... They need to act like kids.

Comics need to observe, and the best way to observe is to be an outsider. What is an outsider? other than someone who does not understand the rules of life, who is from elsewhere or is not accustomed to a specific way of living, hence why children make fantastic observers "Children are all foreigners" 

Ralph Waldo Emerson. We learn through observation, and children's minds are unburdened by culture, free to question absurd irrational ideas and thoughts that we have accepted over the years, what spoon is the right spoon, the direction it should go when eating soup, not to point at people (with your feet, in some regions of the world) not to stare...

Children lack a comprehensive understanding of the rules, which is the perfect recipe for good observational comedy, what's more they are far less sensitive and love talking and joking about taboo subjects like genitals and faeces... Which is why it's funny to hear that someone has started a comedy club for kids (http://www.comedyclub4kids.co.uk), where professional comics test their mettle in a room full of children. Apparently they put their hands up when they want to heckle - which to be perfectly honest sounds like a wonderfully civil alternative.

Kids are naive, do what they want for fun, and they haven't learnt the unspoken rules of adult life. It's like they're mini comedians...

To see kids being used for comic effect (yes that sounds awful) the best examples of a childish perspective being adopted to observe are these two pieces of 32 carat comedy gold from comedy legend Dave Allen HERE and HERE