Review: Mark Rough, Phil Swales, Carl Gillespie, Lee Kyle, Harry Bentley and Richard Batt – The Georgian Theatre, Stockton
All Jokes Aside is a new club ran by up and coming comics Richard Batt and Carl Gillespie, with venues in Stockton and Redcar. The nights feature raw and newer acts, and are a welcome addition for any Teesside-based comedians looking to gain some experience and sharpen up their set in an area devoid of new act nights, barring The Wild Bunch in Middlesbrough, ran by Harry Bentley.
The venue for this gig was the Stockton Georgian Theatre in the town’s culture quarter – an architecturally beautiful room perfectly suited for a small comedy gig such as this. Tickets are relatively cheap at £4.50/£3 concs a pop, and the theatre space is well equip with a bar in the adjacent room keeping background noise to a minimum – a small bonus if you’re aware of the perils noisy bar orders and chatter at the back of the room bring to the evening.
The compere for the show was Richard Batt, who, when not reading jokes directly from today’s newspapers, entertained the crowd (which mainly comprised of his friends, family and workmates) amiably considering the shyness of the audience in the early stages of this evening. Batt is plying his trade well here, sharpening his bantering skills and delivery by compering these gigs.
First up this evening was the aforementioned Wild Bunch promoter Harry Bentley, with a short set on religion. The comic tried his best to get some sort of response from the audience during his time on stage but unfortunately the crowd didn’t take to him or his material. Bentley has enthusiasm by the bucket load and has clearly put a lot of thought into his material, but lacks the laugh out loud moments that can win over a quiet audience like this. Secondly tonight we were given Lee Kyle, who performed his extremely successful flag routine – it finally jump started the show into gear and got some momentum going among the 30 or so audience members.
The middle section began with Carl Gillespie, and a set consisting of wordplay, puns and self-deprecating humour aplenty. Gillespie can also claim to be a successful impressionist, I might add, after showcasing two top impressions during his set, which were very effective. Phil Swales was up next, with a marked improvement since I’d last seen him at the Stockton Arc’s gong show. On only his sixth ever gig Swales did a great job of closing this section – with dozens of rapid fire gags, it really didn’t matter if you disliked one of his jokes as another was provided within seconds.
The headline act for the evening was established Sunderland comic Mark Rough, recently interviewed for Giggle Beats. Rough is an unashamed and unapologetic Mackem Motormouth – his style is confrontational with some quite excellent dark material. He really went down a treat with the Stockton audience, hitting a home run with many well-formed gags and routines – though sadly the complexity of others went straight over the audience’s heads. Nevertheless, Rough was a great closing act for the night.
It’s great to see new nights like All Jokes Aside popping up in the area and hopefully, after tonight’s premiere show, the club will go from strength to strength. Best of luck.
The next All Jokes Aside night is at the Clarendon Hotel in Redcar on November 3rd, with Tony Basnett closing. Details and more information can be found here.