Crystal Booth

Review: Danny Deegan, Lee Kyle, Holden Holden, Ray Kane and Steffen Peddie – Infinity Bar, Sunderland

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Danny Deegan | Giggle Beats

Danny Deegan

The Big Owl Comedy Club at Sunderland’s Infinity Bar didn’t seem so ‘big’ with the crowd amounting to only 29 people. The comedians were going to have to be funny to enhance the atmosphere of the room.

First up was MC Steffen Peddie – he obviously has a few fans as there was a table who had booked especially to see him.  If you like comperes who are a bit crude, target the audience and swear quite a lot then Steffen is right up your street. Claiming that one of the audience looked like an X factor winner from about two years ago was one of the best received jokes of the night before the booze started to flow. Perhaps it was due to the lack of people, who knows. However, one thing Steffen does do to fill in the awkward silences is state “Just me then?”, and this makes it more tolerable.

Ray Kane was the first comedian to grace the stage, but with similar jokes to Steffen about Stephen Hawking, paedophiles and wearing leotards it feels like we’ve already heard it before. However, he tried out his new stuff, which got very few laughs. Kane said, ‘Well that’s the new stuff debuted’, but it seems that he may have to go back and re-think some topics. After talking about quite sensitive subjects like funerals and his cat having testicular cancer it seems that Kane’s material is of a certain taste and, on this showing, not that well received. However, his joke about the man who invented cats eyes was quite amusing.

After Ray Kane, two new acts took to the stage – Holden Holden, an America character, and geography lover Lee Kyle. Holden Holden was an ex night club owner from New York who had recently been divorced. He moaned about his ex wife and the life he used to have, receiving few laughs from the crowd. But I will give it to him, he did a very good American accent.

Lee Kyle was in a league of his own. Firstly he had props and even looked intriguing – he slightly resembled a magician in his suit and slicked back hair. Carrying on stage a case which contained pieces of paper which were in fact hand painted flags, we couldn’t see how this would be funny, yet it was. Kyle got the biggest laughs of the night so far by pulling out flags and asking the audience to name the country- it was simple but effective. But more was to come; singing a song about to the tune of ‘You’re The Devil In Disguise’ was both quirky and original and had the crowd roaring. Perhaps the most impressive thing of all about Lee Kyle is that he’s only been doing stand up for six months.

Now time for the headline act, Danny Degan. Touching on subjects such as the death of his 90 year old grandmother, selling his kidney online and everyone’s immature side he was on to a good start – until a drunken heckler decided to take over. But being a professional Danny saw the funny side and included it into his act, using the mike stand as a graph of how funny his set was to great effect.

Apart from the slightly slow start Danny was a very good closing act, and the night had certainly progressed in the second half, when everyone was more relaxed and the comedians were frankly funnier.

The Big Owl Comedy Club at the Infinity Bar and Restaurant is held on the first Friday of every month. The next night is December 3rd.

  • Mark Rough

    Was it just you then?
    I must say that Ray Kane’s cat gag is one of the most simple but effective jokes I’ve ever heard. Did anyone pull up Lee Kyle about his use of the word Paki?

  • Eric Scarboro

    Hey Andrew,

    Hope all’s well.

    As to the Infinity Bar review: it’s a mixed bag.
    I accept that it’s a little negative, which is opinion and always good, but it reads as aloof and remote, which is alienating. It could have been written after a day or two’s contemplation but seems to have been composed in the heat of the moment. I’d think it would go down much better if it came across as definitely on the performers’ side, but aware of all the difficulties being encountered. Instead it reads as not aware of the difficulties of being a creative, spontaneous performer.

    I’m giving you the honest feedback you asked for, which can be by private e-mail if you prefer.
    There is far more to a comedy night than you see from the seats.
    Why not try a different approach, just as an experiment?

    Seriously, how about getting to a gig early and seeing the work involved in the set-up. About eight weeks early.

    Be in on the meetings with venue management and plans* put in place, be on the seventy mile drive to a meeting that the Arts Officer has forgotten about, read the e-mails asking to cancel or re-arrange the dates already agreed in concrete with the posters and flyers already at the printer’s, get to the gig and see that the agreed floor plans* have been totally forgotten about, sit down with the men behind the curtain and watch seasoned professionals and newcomers alike step too far forward and put their faces in total shadow, deal with the drunks who didn’t get it because it was too highbrow and the Guardian readers who thought it was too downmarket, see our rituals as we try to relax under pressure and try to entertain two hundred customers who would rather be night clubbing, etc etc.

    But you know how much hard work it was just getting your website alive and kicking, and you’re dealing in observation, not the production of the magic.

    Steffen and I talked about likely attendances and knew there would be virtually no walk-up with most adults busy with their offspring on November the fifth, and not likely to get their gladrags on in the suburbs and drive in. Saturday was always going to be better.

    In the interests of constructive dialogue, here are some suggestions, just for consideration and discussion.

    1) The C.V. section. Crystal, Jamie, Luke, Fiona et al, need to have their histories up, as promised. If you are absolute beginners, just say so, we’ll respect your honesty. Let trust build up in its own time. You can’t hurry love.
    2) Organise a Showcase. One featuring 6 local new acts and pro compere (after a fashion, perhaps?) . One featuring five north east comedians who haven’t had the recognition they deserve yet. Invite bookers and promoters.
    3) Organise a charity gig. Who is your chosen charity by the way? Mine’s Oxfam with whom I have a covenant, and Save The Children who get a monthly direct debit. On a selfish note, how about Help The Aged? (before that Andy Fury suggests it)

    You can listen to us, the creatives, or go your own way. It’ll be fun to have you on the journey and on our side, but you have to realise that all comics know that comedy will continue with or without you.

    Also, I’ll be interested to see if you can work out what I’ve done before the comedians do. On your marks, get set…….
    No axe to grind.

    Eric Scarboro.
    ITEM NUMBER ONE International Special.
    Sulley O’Sullivan, Wes Zaharuk, erm… Lee Kyle. Eric Scarboro (Etc Etc)
    Saturday 20th November, Gateshead Town Hall. 0191 4336965.
    Hale and Ha Ha Hearty Comedy.

  • Andrew Dipper

    Hi Eric,

    Thank you for getting in touch. You know I always like to hear feedback to the content on the site.

    Whether a review is negative or not – in this case you’re probably right – as a website we’re always supportive of what local acts and promoters are doing. There will be more occasions in future when one of our reviewers dislikes an act, and you’ll disagree with their comments – I don’t mean to quote the critic’s cliché, but everyone has their own opinion, and that was Crystal’s.

    I think by mentioning the small crowd and poor atmosphere at the very start of the piece it could well have set a negative tone for the rest of the review – but Crystal’s actually framing the night for the reader, and giving the comedians the benefit of the doubt to an extent. Everyone who writes for Giggle Beats is fully aware ‘there is far more to a comedy night than you see from the seats’, and our past reviews have demonstrated that, I think. They may not be the comprehensive reviews you or others desire, but our reviews are centred on reviewing the act and the night – after all, they are interdependent.

    Maybe you’re right in that this specific review was lacking in context – I’m sure most nights around the country struggled on November 5th, no matter the quality of line-up or level of promotion and advertising. But I know how much hard work goes into these nights and I’m sure Crystal does too. I regularly speak with local promoters like Neil Jollie, John Smith, Hayley Craine and Steffen because I realise I can learn a lot from them. They help me contextualise what I see. They’re also my friends.

    As far as your suggestions go, I can’t argue with them. I’ve already considered organising a charity night, but right now I have very little spare time. In the future it’s something I’m looking to do – along with a few other projects. Ultimately though, I’m not a promoter, I’m a man who is passionate about comedy, has watched it for years, understands the hard work that goes into most shows, and writes about it. I’ve never claimed we are authorities on North East comedy – I even say in the Giggle Beats blurb:

    ‘We like to think of Giggle Beats as a rough guide to the Northern circuit, the performers that make it special and the clubs that make it happen – but don’t just rely on our word; visit one of your local comedy venues and let the funny people entertain you.’

    It’s a bit of a cheesy line, but you get the point. What we have is an opinion, nothing more. The site is primarily here to encourage more people to go and watch live comedy and see for themselves whether our opinion is what they perceive to be right or wrong. Some of our writers like myself, Jamie Stubbs and Fiona Heydari have watched and analysed comedy for years – we understand the inner workings of the local scene, but, ultimately, we must write about what we see on stage. I think it’s the way it has to be. Others such as Luke and Crystal would, I imagine, happily admit that they are comedy enthusiasts first and foremost. Like the comedians on show on Friday, we’re a mixed bag too.

    To summarise, Giggle Beats is the product of a bunch of people who are passionate about comedy. There’ll always be comics saying, ‘What right does this person have to judge me?’ (usually after a bad/average review), and they should level that criticism at all comedy sites – even publications they choose to quote from like Chortle. If I put my work in the public domain it is there to be judged, and I accept that. But it’s a two way street.

  • Lee Kyle

    In my defence, I do use the word ‘Paki’ in one gag – but it is clearly a joke against racism.

    It’s possible that I didn’t deliver the joke clearly enough or well enough so this wasn’t as obvious as I’d like, it’s also possible that the word isn’t needed in the joke, I’ll have to maybe put more thought into it.

    If the context didn’t come across, I’ll hold my hands up and try better next time.

  • Lee Kyle

    Oh, also, I thought Ray’s cat stuff was brilliant and went down well.

  • Mark Rough

    Hi Lee
    by the way I really enjoyed your stuff when I saw you in Stockton and thanks for your considered reply both publicly and privately. You have to drop the gag, at worst it’s ironic racism and even racism delivered second hand is still racism. Remember not all of your audiences will get the perceived joke they’ll just hear the word and the awful sentence afterwards as delivered from your mouth. You’re better than that.

  • Jamie Stubbs

    Hi all,

    I don’t seem to recall the gag in the set Lee performed at the Georgian in Stockton. Is it regularly featured in the set or only brought out when you think the crowd will appreciate it, Lee?

  • Eric Scarboro

    Mark’s right, and the advice is sound.
    I heard it once and didn’t like it but I thought it had been dropped.
    Hopefully I think we can wrap this up now as Lee is one of us and doesn’t need or warrant any extended criticism over a mistake he’s big enough to cough for.

  • Eric Scarboro

    So… back to the FUN.
    Three thought I must have been in a bad mood and just griping. Oh dear me no.
    Nine had a good go, but no cigar.
    Three went close.
    One was spot on and doesn’t want to be named as a smartypants.
    Clue: A big news story all last week which I’m sure lots of Comedians will have tried to get material from.
    Answer: I hid very obvious songtitles in the post. Like the Police Oficer giving evidence at the Enqiry.
    All together now… one last time…. what business are we in?

  • Lee Kyle

    Yeah…maybe the joke isn’t worth it…I don’t use it that often anyway.

    Honestly though, it’s not even meant to be ironic racism, it’s about something my Mam once said and me slagging her off for it. Like I said earlier though, it’s possible this didn’t really come across as I’d like.

  • Jamie Stubbs

    Well in fairness to Lee I believe the word can be used in comedy if it’s done with the right intentions and with good reason. Who is one person to say what should and shouldn’t be allowed to be said on stage? Just as who is one person to say what each particular punter finds acceptable and unnaceptable to joke about.

    On Ed Byrne’s Pedantic & Whimsical he uses the word in a long routine quite a large number of times but I honestly believe to recollection he doesn’t go too far or overstep the line as for as offence is concerned. You wouldn’t exactly call Burn an offensive or controversial comedian by any stretch but it can be said the audience were there to see his tour and may possibly let him get away with the use of such word.

    Although I don’t know the gag and therefore can’t pass any judgement on whether it should or shouln’t be dropped, I do think you can’t just throw away decent material on the basis of knee jerk shock reaction to a word.

    I think we can safely say that institutionalised racism is a thing of the past in alternative comedy with a small collective of stalwarts hanging on to the outdated means of getting an audience reaction and I obviously don’t condone the use of racist terms under any context. That being said I’m not so sure the use of these words on stage is as cut and dry as others have commented on this review.