The gigs are coming thick and fast in October and this was the first of three gigs this week! Although it has been a long time between drinks since we last visited Dead Cat back in December, it remains one of our favourite nights. The regular gig plays host to some of the best alternative acts on the circuit and conducts itself at the wonderful Labyrinth of a pub, the wonderfully quirky Sandbar.
Sandbar is located just off Oxford rd, opposite the Bread Shed (home of the XS Malarkey) and has a plethora of ales on draught and some decent looking pizzas on offer. The gig took place in the snug area of the bar. Intimate would be the best way to describe it, but a great setting for the evening’s proceedings.
The MC was the resident compere Red Redmond, who regails us with tales of his time in an Abba tribute act, discusses the sights and sounds of Bolton and his job woes. We also learn that Manchester Airport is listed as the 4th best tourist attraction in Bolton and if you go and see an Abba tribute act from Warrington be careful you don’t get an eyeful of the drummers knob!
The first act of the evening is Chris Kehoe from Bolton. There’s something quite comforting and warm about the Bolton (Boltonian?) accent. It is maybe due to my early years watching and re-watching Peter Kay at uni, hearing a comedian with one is like putting on a snuggly old jumper. Only instead of talking about Why don’t you, Garlic Bread and trips to Blackpool, Chris discussed his own take on life as a child in the 80s which was all about knock off Soviet Union versions of Monopoly and true to his Marxist leanings, his hatred of the Tories. More Peter KGB than Peter Kay. His act is largely politics and satire based, which as someone who dabbles in politics it is right up my street. His set flows very well and crafts well worked thought provoking monologues then hits you with a well timed satirical pun. To sum up, he’s a ruddy clever and funny chap.
After a short interval we’re back for the middle section comprising of AJ Hill and Rob Mulholland. Two acts we’re very familiar with, although this our first time seeing AJ do a proper set having only previously seen him as an MC.
First up was AJ Hill and his bag of props. AJ has great stage presence and not afraid to use the audience within his routine, rushing into the crowd to adorn them with weird and wonderful wigs and other random items he has in is little rucksack. The jokes come thick and fast and laden with self aware bad puns which lead onto other bigger jokes where the real pun catches the audience by surprise and produces big laughs. AJ is certainly one of the quirkiest acts we’ve seen and like other more alternative acts you feel you could watch them every night of the week and never see the same show twice, such is his brilliantly unpredictable style.
Next up was Rob Mulholland, one of our favourite acts on the circuit who we had the pleasure of seeing for the second time in less than a week. As with Comedy Balloon on Wednesday he was testing out new material having just got back from a successful run at Edinburgh and clearly testing out new stuff for next year. Was the new stuff good? Well my mini coughing fit from laughing (which I managed to style out… I think!) would suggest yes, yes it was! His act centred around his adjustments to being single again and the general annoyances he finds in everyday modern life (mainly other people’s stupidity!). From what we’ve seen his new show material is shaping up very nicely.
The final act of the evening was the wonderfully dark and misanthropic Fern Brady. If AJ was all sweetness and light, the second portion of the show got a whole lot darker! If brute honesty isn’t your thing then you’d probably be shifting uncomfortably at this point, however we love dark self-deprecating humour so it was all good. Her set takes aim at parts of the comedy industry, misogyny, her previous jobs (ranging from admin to serving breakfast to sex offenders) and well a lot of Northern Ireland! She pulls jokes from some dark places and rather than done merely for shock value it is done to paint a picture of the sheer absurdity of life in general.