Comedy in The Midlands is now becoming a regular outing for us here at Artisan Traveller. Having experienced the professional scene at both The Leicester Comedy Festival and Funhouse at Bartons PLC, we decided to see what £1 gets you on a Wednesday night.
NCF are a comedy promotions company based right here in The Midlands who were hosting the event. The £1 comedy night is aimed at both experienced comedians testing out new routines and also comics who are less experienced or even brand new to stand-up.
These £1 nights are regularly held at Canalhouse – a pub that has been on my ‘to-do’ list for a while now. It would be easy to think that one could simply arrive at the venue and pay on the door but the events do sell out quickly. It’s a lot easier to book tickets online to guarantee your seat in the house.
With a pre-gig meal at the fabulous Cafe Coco Tang devoured, we headed down to The Waterfront. The nearest station to the venue is Nottingham Station but Canalhouse is also a brisk walk easily reachable from The Lace Market tram stop also.
Canalhouse is a unique pub in the sense that there is an actual canal running through the centre of the building. Two narrow boats rocking back and forth create a unique feel. The staff are friendly and the selection of beers is incredible for anyone arriving armed with a CAMRA beer guide.
With a good crowd in the bar for a Wednesday night, this looked incredibly promising. Many people were asking about the comedy and if they could purchase tickets from the bar. The event is actually held in a room above the pub which the staff are only too happy to show you to.
The room was very impressive and a world away from the pub function rooms that we are used to. A mass layout of comfortable chairs and a large stage area plus a bar at the rear of the seating made for the perfect setting.
Audience-wise it was a young crowd with a scattering of older faces. We watched on in amazement as the bulk of the 100 plus seats were taken. Our MC for the evening, Adam Coumas, then took to the stage.
Coumas, based in London, began with fluid banter and interaction with the front couple of rows. A group of students trying to pass themselves off as ‘Lollipop Men’ provided a real highlight of the opening exchanges prompting hilarious responses from Coumas.
After Adam’s opening efforts to warm up the crowd, the first act made his way to the stage…incredibly slowly. Dan Nicholas is a comedian with an unusual style, choosing to mime to the crowd for a few minutes before taking the mic. His set had its highlights but it wasn’t really our style of comedy. The crowd reaction was also rather muted.
Nathan Gibbons, another Londoner, took to the stage next – a man who quickly picked up on his likeness to Afroman and Marouane Fellaini. Sadly for Gibbons his set didn’t quite hit the spot and even included a moment of him falling off the stage.
Following the interval came two comedians a level up from the previous two. Mustafa Fecto produced a set with some memorable gags, in particular one about comparing a pescatarian eating fish to a shark’s feeding habits. An 18 year old named Oscar Roberts put in a good shift next for someone so fresh to the scene.
Up to now, the crowd had been lively during the exchanges between acts with Adam Coumas but some had resorted to talking between themselves during the acts which was a bit disrespectful. Many of the acts had slots of between five and ten minutes.
Undoubtedly the star turn of the night went to a comedian named Mark Row. Sharp material interspersed with audience interaction brough the biggest laughs of the night. In 2017, Mark undertook the huge challenge of going into stand-up with no previous experience and making it all the way to The Edinburgh Festival within a year, an incredible story.
For £1, this is a very good investment. It’s certainly a mixed bag when it comes to levels of talent and experience but therein lies the beauty of the event. You could be watching the next huge star of the comedy scene here in the UK. For any comedian new to the game, this is the perfect place to start the journey.
Nearest train/tram station: Nottingham Station
Mark Row’s documentary ‘A1: The Long Road to Edinburgh’: https://amzn.to/2KvZwCd