Sunday, 1 May 2016

Weekend Review: Brendon Burns, Rob Thomas, Harriet Dyer & John Hastings

In the six years since I started hosting for Hot Water comedy, obviously I’ve seen a huge growth and improvement in the quality of the show. In those early days we tried, as we still do to provide a fun, friendly, well run place for new acts and comedy fans to come together. Since then, the new act show on a Sunday still proves to be a fan favourite and in my opinion is still the heart of the club. In addition to that though our little club has grown to one that plays host to some of the finest professional acts not only from the UK, but the world.

I think we owe a lot to those humble beginnings. Clawing our way up from new act night to full weekend club has ensured that we value the acts and focus not only on the business of the club but the enjoyment of the comedians. This ethos seems to be paying off as our reputation grows and more acts vie to play our club. It wasn’t until this weekend though that it really sank in how far we had come.

We have had big names before, TV acts have graced our stage more than once. This week though, the lineup truly reflected where Hot Water is and hopefully where it is headed in the future. A place that progresses and hones local talent as well as bringing in the best of international comedy for Liverpool audiences to enjoy.

To begin we had the excellent John Hastings. A Canadian comedian who I could listen to all day. It’s hard to describe John without showing him to you. He’s different every time I see him. His playfulness with the crowd always means that you never quite know where he’s going but you feel in safe hand. A fact illustrated by him pointing out the role of slavery in the fortunes of our city and the pointing out the muted reaction of the audience as they checked that Roland, the only black guy in the room, was ok with the joke. This, in less skilled hand could have become a tense situation but with John, even a subject so serious feels light and playful and the spirit of fun lives on. John’s set is always good but on Friday it culminated in my first highlight of the weekend. As he was wrapping up a phone went of and John being John was straight on it. Trying to find the perpetrator to dish out his own brand of vigilante comedic justice. “Is it you?” he asked multiple people as they all shifted the blame between themselves. “Is it you!? Who the fuck is it? I’ll find yo…. Oh wait, It’s me”. Brilliant. He had set what he thought was a silent alarm on his phone to let him know when he had done his time. Oh how we all laughed.

Our middle acts for the weekend were as different as you could get from each other. Harriet Dyer did a fine job on Friday with her surreal, offbeat and super likeable style of storytelling. Rob Thomas did amazingly on Saturday with his well crafted rants and precise, relatable observations. Seeing these two acts do so well, especially Rob (Sorry Harriet), was highlight number two. Both of them have gigged with us since the early days  and so seeing them now, holding their own amongst two of the best acts on the circuit, I can't help but feel some pride. Like all of our early work is paying off, not only for us but the acts that we had perform in those early days. Don't get me wrong I'm not saying that Hot Water made these acts, they have both worked incredibly hard, gigging up and down the country to get to the level they are at now. I just can't help feeling when I see them do so well that our Sunday show is doing something good. In some small way we are helping shape the comedians of tomorrow. That is a great feeling.

On to highlight number three. Brendan Burns. I don't often get starstruck but I must admit that Brendan is one act I had longed to work with and he did not disappoint. Each night he provided a masterclass in stand up and I watched with joy.  It wasn't particularly the material though that provided the highlight for me. It was just seeing an act of his caliber on our stage, enjoying himself. So much so that he did way longer than he was supposed to. This is not an unusual occurrence. It happens quite often in fact. But it just served to highlight for me how far we have come.

Thanks to the hard work of Paul and Binty we now have a club that the best acts in the country want to play. We have a club that helps new acts to begin. We have a club that provides real progression and, I feel at least, is a real benefit to the industry. All this was never more apparent to me than this weekend. As Brendan left the stage and I shook his hand he excitedly proclaimed ‘what a club!’ A sentiment I share wholeheartedly.


Get down to Hot Water Comedy Club in Liverpool every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday