Friday, 22 February 2013

The Secret Variety Club - review

Written by: Lauren Buckley (@LaurenBuckers)

Queens Head Pub (Piccadilly), London

If your idea of a good night out is a laugh with your friends in the pub then you’re in luck because The Secret Variety Club at the Queens Head Pub in Piccadilly is just that. Even if that’s not your ideal night out, it is a great opportunity to witness some new comedy from a whole range of acts as the evening stays true to its name in variety, from all-female sketch troupes to stand-up comedians to character acts.

This is a fantastic showcase for up and coming talent as well as a great opportunity for the acts to try out new material, which sometimes can mean a room full of silence, but not in this case. The evening is well organised and fun; credit to the organisers The Intimate Strangers, who also compere and perform. A small, intimate venue like the Queen’s Head Pub means there is literally nothing for the acts to hide behind other than the occasional pink wig. Up first are the female comedy troupe Funbags, who perform a variety of sketches, some of which are notably stronger than others, but they are fast-paced and topical, exemplifying the strengths of the performers’ ability to play multiple characters. It is refreshing to see so many great female acts on the bill, proving that women can be funny too. The young Elf Lyons is a natural and we embrace her quirky, fast-paced energy through tales of a messy break-up, which is heart-warming and relatable, not to mention very funny indeed. Samantha Baines was delightful, performing as a bold, European woman who shares her knowledge of the study of bird mating calls, getting the whole room up on their feet, which is a nice touch and a clever way of getting the audience involved without feeling too uncomfortable.

An audience can very much make or break a comedian’s performance and this particular audience was most responsive - if not too responsive in a few cases - with members of the front row getting so comfortable with heckling they almost become part of the act. However, if anything, this showcases the talent of the performers even more, particularly Sam Golin who thrives off of the constant jibes proving a natural comic ability and charm beyond his prepared act. The Intimate Strangers, James Taylor Thomas and compere Matthew Radway, interject the evening with two interview based sketches, with Radway staying in compere character as interviewer and Thomas playing the celebrity interviewees. This is a clever way of smoothly tying the events of the evening together giving us a tease of the company’s work. Radway throughout controls the evening’s events with charm and Thomas shines, particularly portraying first guest, posh celebrity blogger.

It is a pleasure to experience some talented young comics and though this variety showcase in particular was for one night only, it is back on Tuesday 19th March, so grab a pint and join in on the fun. 

The next Secret Variety Club is on 19 March 2013. 
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