Review: Punch-Drunk Comedy, Side Club, Blyth
Punch-Drunk Comedy is the new monthly night that aims to put Blyth on the comedy map. Some may say that’s a tall order, but hometown lad Kai Humphries (now based in Edinburgh) is determined to make it happen.
A professional stand-up night on a Monday in Northumberland was always going to be strange, but as Humphries, looking somewhat like a lost schoolboy, takes the stage to face 300 eager locals, and opens with “Who knew me as a kid?” it’s clear the night is off to a good start.
Humphries is a frenetic performer, and his energy warms the room in startling short order, as he introduces the first act, Daniel Sloss.
Sloss’ deadpan entrance changes the pace of the night, using complex self-deprecation paired with a confident swagger to draw the audience in.
The cornerstone of Sloss’ material is a number of intensely relatable observational routines, augmented with the perfect ratio of twisted logic, simple wordplay and outright silliness.
Playing skilfully with dark and light, some Rowan Atkinson-worthy facial contortions add charm to some of his more abrasive ideas.
The second act is Sunderland’s Matt Reed, whose natural charisma is evident in spades as he dips in and out of the audience, weaving improvised whimsical tangents into his anecdotal routines.
Reed’s persona is quintessentially North Eastern, and his meandering set pieces are peppered with local quirks, niche references, and sly jibes. He is a firm favourite with the audience tonight, and rightfully so.
Finally Andrew Maxwell, undoubtedly one of the very finest stand-ups on the circuit, takes to the stage.
Maxwell is aggressively playful, feeling the room out with some light-hearted audience banter, yet slamming the occasional heckler to explosive rounds of applause.
His style is incredibly conversational, and all his routines are so well honed that they trip off the tongue with ease.
He surveys the room and manages to find the only Irish person there, linking into some of his more political material.
In between rounds of crowd-rousing high energy routines, Maxwell manages to squeeze some incredibly intelligent arguments, some beautiful ironic lines of reason, and some absolute ground-level smut and filth into his triumphant set.
Punch-Drunk is not only a great new night for Northumberland, it helps support a very good cause in Princess Elli’s Trust. Take a bow, Punch-Drunk. Take a bow.
Date of live review: Monday 19 January 2015 @ Newsham Side Club.
Tickets are on sale now for Punch-Drunk Comedy’s next show on Monday 16 February. To reserve tickets, call Gavin Humphries on 07738663379. For more information, visit the Punch-Drunk Blyth Facebook page.