It was bound to happen sooner or later. If you go and watch enough live comedy, eventually you’ll end up getting picked out of the audience. Tonight is that night, as we dash over to the Northern Quarter for a look at Dead Cat.
We’re in the basement at Kosmonaut and it’s all very cosy. Four tables are arranged about as close to the stage area as they can get, while a barely-required microphone awaits the arrival of cheerful MC Red Redmond. The usual ping pong table is folded away in the corner and doubles as a handy coat rack.
By the time we start, there are ten of us in the audience. As we’re to discover, there will be no hiding at the back tonight.
Eleanor Morton is not a confrontational comedian. That’s not my opinion, she says as much herself over the course of her “post-Edinburgh preview”, Happy Birthday Katie Lewis. That’s fine with us. Who wants confrontation on a Monday?
The show centres around a surprise party for ‘childhood friend’ Katie Lewis, who we’re told will be along later. While we wait, we’re treated to a lovely song about a seahorse and hear the best audience response we’ve heard in quite some time.
“Who’s your favourite Disney princess?”
There’s a section about Ghostbusters where we’re invited to suggest films for Eleanor to remake with female leads, which contains some funny ideas and just about manages not to outstay its welcome.
As this is a show which has kind of been and gone, you may never get to find out for yourself whether Katie turns up or not. Nevertheless, there’s enough evidence here to suggest next year’s show will be worth seeing.
After a somewhat lengthy break, we’re back. Joz Norris is in a box. It’s not a surprise, as we’ve watched him get in. In fact, as we wait for the second half to officially begin, he pops out again and we all have a lovely chat. Even writing this a day later, it’s still unclear whether this is part of the act or not.
That really gives you a flavour of how unusual the set is. He launches into his latest Edinburgh Fringe show Hello, Goodbye by leaping from the aforementioned cardboard box and declaring that he doesn’t like his own clothes. He commandeers two tops from the audience and off we go.
This is comedy for people who don’t take themselves too seriously. It’s loosely themed around his relationships with his grandfather and girlfriend (who incidentally is sat at the back, relaxing after her own show), but that sort of doesn’t matter as he dashes from one weird set piece to the next.
There’s some musical fun with Van Morrison, a wonderfully silly section where Beatrix Potter characters are re-imagined with rude names and a pretty accurate dig at the art of improv.
And then it happens.
He searches for someone to play the part of his girlfriend to close the show and, with not many to choose from, his eyes settle on me. My usual system of reviewing nights quietly from a safe distance is in tatters as I’m ushered onto the stage, dressed in a ginger wig and fed some strawberry bootlaces. Oh, and then I’m given a Chinese flute to play.
We quickly discover that I cannot play the Chinese flute. It turns out that I can barely eat sweets in front of people without looking strange. Joz disappears back into his box, I shuffle offstage and we’re done. It has not been your usual Monday.
After a run of shows with fairly packed bills, it’s been nice to have two full sets to sink our teeth into. And with Dead Cat’s open mic night Guinea Pigs in Sandbar to investigate too, we’ve been richly rewarded for our jaunt.
We even get a couple of hugs at the end of the night. Whether those come as standard, you’ll have to discover for yourself.
Check out the Dead Cat website for details of upcoming shows (ticket prices vary).