Andrew Dipper

Review: Phil Kay, Barry Dodds, Charlie Chuck and John Smith – St Dominic’s Catholic Club, Newcastle

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Phil Kay | Giggle Beats

Phil Kay

The Grinning Idiot prides itself on presenting more alternative comedians than most clubs in the region – and if it means a few bemused faces at the end of the night then so be it. Having both Phil Kay and Charlie Chuck on your line-up is asking for mayhem. But that is what The Grinning Idiot’s promoter John Smith did, and, even after the show at St Dominic’s Catholic Club, the night’s MC had no regrets. It was ‘a gamble’, but one Smith felt was necessary. Having heard whispers about the previous night’s comedy (of the same line-up), it was with a degree of apprehension I attended The Grinning Idiot’s flagship venue this evening.

Resident MC John Smith began the show by announcing he had a few new jokes – the crowd of regular punters, who have probably seen the compere many a time, reacted with a sound that resembled disbelief. To be fair to Smith his jokes weren’t bad, but it might have helped if he’d remembered the punch lines to his newly written material.

Opening the evening was David Kear, who provided very few laughs with his long-running Charlie Chuck persona. Chuck is a great character crammed with the melancholy of an old man who’s lost his marbles, but ultimately he lacked the jokes – or humour in any form – to win over the audience and left the stage early to bizarre faces and, I suspect, polite applause.

Middle act Barry Dodds, whose compering abilities were reviewed on Tuesday by Giggle Beats, showcased his set at St Dominic’s with some fantastic tales about former housemates in Manchester and his experience of students, both of which evoked some brilliant, often whimsical, imagery. With his calm persona and a clear talent for storytelling, Dodds was the perfect middle-act for a line-up like this, and offered a break from the mayhem of the other two acts on the bill.

Headliner Phil Kay is notorious for his shocking brand of what he defines as comedy. And as he took to the stage, by climbing over chairs before launching himself from a table, it was clear this comic has no comedy plan. Sure, he occasionally shoehorned tried routines into his set, but the majority of his time on stage was spent adlibbing with the audience – and it proved to be fascinating.

Kay began his set in shocking fashion, by knocking over one of the main speakers in the venue, spitting an audience member’s drink at the crowd, rubbing his genitals on a man in the front row and attempting to touch up a woman in the crowd. That was not and is not funny – it is impertinence veiled as comedy.

However Kay managed to pull it back, and, by the end of the set, the audience were hanging on his every word. His improvised banter with the crowd – best demonstrated with his song about the heckler in the front row – and the anarchic persona of the comic made for a compelling set that most definitely defied comedy convention – but that is the genius of Phil Kay.

If you’re looking to see some Grinning Idiot comedy, more information can be found here.