Review: Chris Ramsey, Gordon Smith, Carl Hutchinson & Andrew Ryan – Reds Bar, Newcastle
Hilarity Bites returned to Newcastle this past Monday evening, as the comedy club showcased Chris Ramsey, Carl Hutchinson, Gordon Smith and MC Andrew Ryan at their new Reds Bar venue.
In a change to the advertised bill, Andrew Ryan replaced Matt Reed as compere for the evening, and maintained a friendly relationship with the crowd throughout, warming up the room with ease. Ryan’s a top compere who is more than capable of thinking on his feet, ab libbing well and never relying upon his Irish charm to see him through – though it did help, especially with a few fellow Irishmen in the crowd to bounce ideas off.
Opener Carl Hutchinson is one of my favourite Northern acts, and having seen him many times previously it’s great to see the progression in his work in recent months. Hutchinson claims there’s no linking material in his set, but on Monday it flowed superbly, with an impressive array of call-backs and a clever use of language in his routines. His dry style of delivery is perfect for his act, and he got plenty of laughs throughout his set.
Despite all four comedians driving from Manchester, the only Mancunian on the bill was middle act Gordon Smith. Smith has some good lines, and his anti-comedy Gag Minute section of his set was a particular favourite of this reviewer – it’s an effective, original concept. However the comedian applied Gag Minute sparingly, using it primarily to punctuate his surreal routines about his girlfriend and daughter, and in turn kept his set fresh. Smith’s a comedian with much potential, though his dark closing joke about his disabled daughter felt out of place in an otherwise playful set.
Headliner Chris Ramsey needs little introduction. After supporting Al Murray on a nationwide tour recently the Sand Dancer provided the audience with a lovely blend of social commentary and observational comedy, ad libbing the opening section of his set very well. Ramsey’s enthusiasm is infectious, and with his charm and endeavour the quiet audience couldn’t help but buy into his relatable material. Having seen him perform his Edinburgh show Aggrophobic at the Fringe this past August, I was expecting more of the same from the South Shields comedian; however he showcased an almost entirely different set of material, but maintained a high quality in both his material and delivery.
Ramsey admitted after the show that he enjoyed getting on stage and ‘having a fuck about’, but seeing a performer at home with their crowd and comfortable with their material was a joy to watch. Whilst Ramsey clearly has some superb routines in his set – those involving former flat-mate Carl Hutchinson and Inbetweeners star Greg Davies were a particular highlight for this reviewer – it is refreshing to see a comedian can win over a crowd on his affable, enthusiastic persona alone. At times his excellent material felt somewhat of an afterthought, and I suppose that’s where his talent lies; Ramsey can do anything, and appears at home in any given situation.