Kate Emmett

Opinion: Why Seymour Mace played in my front room…

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Seymour Mace | Giggle Beats

Seymour Mace

How did 30 people and a comedian get in my front room?

It was Twitter’s fault.

Lying in bed one afternoon listening to comedian Seymour Mace on Beatwolf radio, I was as delighted by his choice of Prince tracks as by the naughty swears permitted by an internet-only station. He talked about his show Happypotamus at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, and mentioned that he had done performances of it in private homes in return for cake and was keen to do this again. I reached for my phone and tweeted the station saying that he’d be welcome at my cakemaking home. It was read out, pleasing me no end.  I thought nothing more of it until a month later when Seymour Mace got in touch via Twitter offering a preview at my house…

He was in Newcastle for a four day run headlining at the Newcastle Stand, a show I enjoyed so much that I’d been to see it twice. He came round for tea, cake and a chat, like a home visit by Cats Protection except without a kitten.

I had no idea how previews or “freeviews” worked: it turns out they’re free (there’s a clue in the name) and mercifully they’re invitation only, so I didn’t have to worry about members of the public coming into my home and stealing my favourite mugs. It gives the comedian a chance to run through a new show in front of a friendly audience prior to taking it to Edinburgh, and it gives the audience a chance to enjoy an informal show in cramped surroundings. I simply had to invite about 15 people to make up the audience. I wasn’t sure I even knew 15 people but I hid my fears and babbled on about cake baking (incidentally if Seymour Mace ever challenges you to a bake-off, don’t bother unless you’re Mary Berry. He will kick your arse).

Now to find an audience. Seymour Mace is allergic to cats, so that’s four people I couldn’t invite. Luckily, Twitter came to my rescue. As well as inviting both of my friends, after a few direct messages to North East comedy fans I managed to pack out my front room with 30 people who were delighted by the idea.

Seymour began the evening explaining he’d written a show that he wasn’t happy with and had scrapped it to go back to the basics of off-the-cuff comedy. If someone has a talent for making people laugh, why write out jokes in advance? He’d never written stuff down to tell his mates down the park, “which would be weird”. So we were handed paper and felt tip pens and asked to write questions that he’d pull out of a box to answer like a homemade Set List Show.  The result was an hour of hilarious comedy ranging from pizza, Star Wars and cats to Lego, the royal family and shoe swapping. The format makes for a completely fresh show every time, and it was brilliant to watch him at work creating comedy on the spot. The only set piece is a short display of surreal sketches  – a couple of people wondered if they could buy a print of the one with the rabbits. He stayed all night chatting with the people, and it was a very friendly and fun evening. But for feedback, I’ll go back to Twitter:

“Great comedy, thank you so much”; “Brilliant evening watching @seymourmace do stand up in @cakepoppins front room!”; “What a lovely night”; “Big thank you for hosting a laughter filled evening with one of my fave comedians, @SeymourMace. Great fun!”; “Delightful impromptu comedy salon with @seymourmace. Fun, funny & friendly”.

Who thought comedy in your front room could be so funny?

Seymour Mace’s Squeg! is at the Live Theatre, Newcastle, on 28th July and at The Stand Comedy Club II in Edinburgh 1st-26th August. For details, see: edfringe.com.