Review: Markus Birdman, Tony Basnett, Katie Mulgrew, Gary Delaney and Ray Peacock – West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds
Operating once a month at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, the Courtyard Comedy Club really treated punters on Sunday night with an excellent bill of established comics and sets from two promising northern talents.
Host for the evening Ray Peacock kicked things off nicely, his easy stage presence and confidence with a crowd getting the masses laughing early doors. Whilst topic wise, some of his material about his parents struggling with homophobia and racism is fairly well worn stuff, Peacock managed to maintain enough surprising punch lines combined with his strong delivery to marshal the night.
Once sufficiently warmed up, Gary Delaney stepped up to serve the audience a 20 minute joke assault. To the ignorant, Gary Delaney’s stance on stand up is a very simple one; tell a joke no longer than 4/5 lines, rinse and repeat. A master of word play his style comes with pros and cons. Telling a joke every 5 seconds means that you, providing they are good, will get a lot of laughs. As was always inevitable there was the odd groaner and some gags relied a little too much on some tired old stereotypes, but Delaney is a master of his art and the sheer range and scope of his joke telling was truly impressive.
Following a brief adjournment Katie Mulgrew and Tony Basnett vacated the middle spot of the evening. Mulgrew, from Lancashire, gave us an amusing ten minutes rallying against the youth of today and the realities of Sex and the City style escapades in Rochdale. Her warm style enamoured the audience and she left to laughter and a sense that she might well be back soon.
North East act Basnett was next up and provided a short and chirpy set. Acting as a warm up for his Comedy Central Funniest Student Final, Basnett is undoubtedly funny with a healthy dose of confidence, but I feel his material needs a more original edge with one routine about masturbation coming across as painfully familiar to viewers of TV show Friends.
Rounding off the night’s proceedings at the Courtyard Comedy Club was headliner Markus Birdman, who delivered a storming set which kept the laughs coming thick and fast. Strolling around the stage with a dandyish confidence Birdman displayed an impressive versatility; a deliciously cynical eye and clear relish for a well timed swear word.
His material was sharp, funny and Birdman’s clearly not afraid to pull his punches, taking on fatherhood, Christianity and High School Musical to equally hilarious effect. It was a fitting conclusion to what was a quality evening of comedy from one of the North’s best comedy nights.
More information on Courtyard Comedy Club can be found on the West Yorkshire Playhouse’s website here.