After quite a lively time of it last week, we thought we’d retreat to our comfort zone and find a nice, cosy pub for our latest slice of live laughter.
We’re in Didsbury on a quiet, mild Monday night to see Trapdoor Comedy, a relative veteran of the Manchester scene after nearly ten years in the city.
The aforementioned cosy pub is The Railway, a familiar watering hole (for us, anyway) found just a short walk from Burton Road tram stop. It’s a pleasant venue for a gig, the sort of pub your dad would call ‘a proper boozer’. The stage fits snugly into a little alcove at the far end of the pub, while before that there are plenty of little corners to enjoy your pre-gig beverage.
We normally favour a seat nearer the back, where you can see the whole room. Here, there’s not really a ‘back’ as such. Instead, three rows of chairs swiftly appear, a curtain is drawn to conceal us from the main bar area and resident MC Tony Basnett barrels onstage, pint in hand, to introduce the opening act.
“GOOD THINGS HAPPEN!”, bellows Daliso Chaponda. After an intro in which he discusses the challenges of dating while teetotal, he moves on to tell us why, despite Brexit and Trump and pretty much everything else, we aren’t actually so badly off after all.
By the time he leaves, we actually feel quite uplifted. He’s the act 2016 needs right now. Oh, and if you sign up to his mailing list, he’ll send you more good news. Lovely.
Next up is Scarlet SoHandsome, a self-styled “drag princess”. If you think that’s a somewhat cutesy label, it isn’t. It’s actually a set-up for a pretty dark joke that lets you know exactly what sort of set this is going to be. Acerbic would be an understatement.
It’s a shame that the shelf-life of her US election material is dwindling by the day, as her Hillary Clinton material is absolutely hilarious.
Rob Mulholland follows for a second portion of what we saw at the Frog & Bucket last week, and he’s fast threatening to become one of our favourite acts. His bit about dating is marvellous and he reveals some rather startling medical knowledge (those routines aren’t connected, though).
Tonight he finishes with some new material, a rather lengthy story that will, by his own admission, be better after a bit of tightening up.
It’s time for the headliner, Barry Dodds, whose engaging chat with the audience keeps the good mood of the room going. He segues seamlessly between subjects as diverse as ghosts and hen dos, while his tale of a university prank with a truly amazing ending provides one of the highlights of the night. It involves medical students. That should be enough to make you want to hear more.
The show ends on a strange note, as he makes a phone call to Chico off the X-Factor to invite him on a camping trip. Sadly, it appears Chico has already turned in for the evening. Still, you can’t have everything.
It’s not hard to see why Trapdoor is so well established. As Basnett correctly points out, we’ve had quality acts across the board, all for a fiver and in a much more intimate venue than many of these comedians need to be playing.
If you’re a city centre-dweller like us and think Didsbury’s a bit out of your way, they also do nights at The Old Monkey on Portland Street and Solomon’s in Withington. There’s really no excuse not to go.
Visit the Trapdoor Comedy website for info on tickets and upcoming shows.