Laughing Gnome Comedy @ The Old Plough, Sale

I can’t read a map, so we’re running late. This means that, after a mad dash across Sale, we don’t get to enjoy much of The Old Plough before we hurry through the bar for our first visit to Laughing Gnome Comedy.

Two chairs are kindly rustled up for us to take our seats at the back as we prepare to watch the same comedian perform twice.

We should explain. We’re here to see celebrity-bothering psychic Ian D Montfort and hapless hospital radio DJ Ivan Brackenbury, two characters from the mind of the excellent Tom Binns.

The soothing Sunderland tones of D Montfort are the first to be introduced by cheery compere Chris Tavner. Sending up psychic mediums is always going to be a good target, because, well, everything they do is already daft.

Previously described by Binns as “Tommy Cooper crossed with Derren Brown”, D Montfort’s gentle mocking of this dubious art form is fun, as is the audience interaction.

The tarot cards are the best bit. We know exactly which card the lucky volunteer is going to choose, but it’s still hilarious when we get there.

There are two acts in the middle section. Ash Preston is one we’ve been aware of for a while, so it’s nice to finally see him in action.

He’s sort of a friendly misanthrope, which we know doesn’t make sense. But if you could see him darting around the stage, hurling out the occasional angry rant interspersed with some perfectly pleasant chats with the audience, you’d know what we mean.

This is followed by Tayo Cousins, who we saw recently at the Beat The Frog World Series Final. He faded into the background a little on that evening, but tonight he seems more at ease and gives us a thorough schooling in why it’s always good to check a set out twice.

Ivan Brackenbury is brilliant. He gives us a ‘live broadcast’ of his hospital radio show and makes a hilarious hash of trying to cheer up his listeners.

Each observation about a ‘patient’ is followed by a highly inappropriate song dedication. The opening bars of every tune produce a lovely ripple of laughter as everyone works out the joke at their own pace. There’s scarcely recovery time from each laugh before the next one is upon us.

Sometimes it’s just a pleasure to spend an evening watching an experienced craftsman transform into characters he’s supremely comfortable with and show us how stand up should be done. It’s been the ideal Wednesday night lift to get ourselves through the rest of the week.

Last orders have been and gone, so it’s back out into the brisk November night. Let’s hope my navigating skills have improved in the last two and a half hours. By the time you read this, I might still be out there.

Laughing Gnome Comedy pops up at various locations across Manchester. We paid £9 each for our tickets on the door. Check out their Facebook page for upcoming gigs and head along to the one nearest you!

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