This year I decided to make the most of Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival, especially as almost all of my favourite comedians are performing in 2015 with the notable exceptions of Gary Delaney and Richard Herring, but I saw Richard Herring’s Lord of the Dance Settee show in Loughborough and I saw Gary Delaney twice, once on his Purist tour and again at a Sarah Millican and Friends night at the Y Theatre which was brilliant.
The first show I saw this year was a Work in Progress show by Angela Barnes at the Globe which was a really lovely venue. The show had a really enthusiastic crowd with some really good banter and it was a very enjoyable performance by Angela Barnes, in fact so much so that I decided to try to get a ticket for her tour show the following night, as I didn’t want to miss out as I’d read really good reviews. But I would just like to confess that Des Lynam was my idea but I didn’t shout out the answer as I thought that would be cheating (which I doubt will make any sense to anyone reading this but I just wanted to clear that up for my own peace of mind).
So the following night at the Cookie I saw Angela Barnes perform her show ‘You Can’t Take It With You’. Some members of the audience were labouring under the false apprehension that their banter with their friend was more entertaining and important than the show they’d paid to see but Angela Barnes was quick to pounce on them and snuff that out, and to take the Mick out of them, which they clearly deserved. I really enjoyed the show and was really glad I got to see it before she starts performing her next show at the Edinburgh Festival.
On the Saturday night I went to Curve to see Dylan Moran’s Off The Hook show which is still a bit of a work in progress. I’ve been a fan of Dylan Moran since Black Books and it was wonderful to have the opportunity to see him live as it was a hugely enjoyable show, even though he said he finished it slightly early due to it not quite hanging together yet. He seemed to be implying that he wanted to end on a bit he was happy with and to cut out a bit he wasn’t quite so sure about. But it was still a good duration for the price of the ticket so I went home happy.
On the Sunday I was lucky enough to see a Q & A with Sarah Millican who is one of my absolute favourite comedians. On the one hand I find her really funny and she has a very sharp and witty mind for interviews, but I also really admire her work ethic and her love for stand-up comedy, seeing it as an end in itself rather than a route to TV presenting or acting. Festival director Geoff Rowe was allowed to get the odd question in but he very sensibly let Sarah do the vast majority of the talking, and the speed at which she talks means that you always get value for money with Millican. Her answers were either very interesting or very funny, and often a lot of both.
The final thing I wanted mention was that while I was on my way to Leicester on the Sunday I received a message that one of my best friends had passed away. Nigel Lawson was the frontman for a band called Dangerous Dogs who played a lot around the local music scene. They were hugely entertaining, playing a real mixture of classic blues songs, original compositions and oddities like the theme from Dad’s Army and songs from The Jungle Book. They are all hugely talented musicians and they described Nigel as their band leader and mastermind. I met Nigel in 2005 and he started accompanying me on harmonica as I performed gigs around the East Midlands. It was always an absolute joy to have him onstage and to spend any amount of time with him offstage as he was a funny, kind and very encouraging person to be around. The last time we played together was last October at the gig I organised for my birthday, during which he said that doing our gigs together gave him the confidence to start what became the Dangerous Dogs, and that meant so much as they were so entertaining and I would always go to see them whenever I could. I recorded quite a few videos of their performances over the years and I’ve put them all up on my Youtube channel so can see them all on the ‘Dangerous Dogs live‘ playlist.