Sunday, 1 May 2016

Monkey Business at Camden Holiday Inn

The function room of The Camden Holiday Inn is not the most immediately obvious venue for live comedy but it does have some advantages. The room is huge, the furniture isn't rickety, the air doesn't smell of stale beer and the lobby bar doesn't have much in the way of a queue. 

True, in terms of atmosphere it probably suits your aspirations best if you're looking for work on cruise ships but as a novel alternative to the regular London pubs and bars circuit it's certainly worth a punt.

MC and promoter Martin Besserman is a truly individual character with a truckload of stories to tell about the comedy circuit and a thoroughly laid back attitude when it comes to running a show. On stage he's at ease and talks to the audience like a man at the bar with a story to share. It's his club but it could as easily be his lounge. The audience certainly warmed to him.

As for the show itself, one became two when my initial booking for the 7pm show was extended to the 9pm one as well. This being largely due to the second show not having any new acts to add to the bill. Well, with one very notable exception. Martin had sweet-talked 2013 Britain's Got Talent runner-up Jack Carroll, staying at the hotel that night, to come in and do ten minutes. Now a grand 17 years old Jack was exceptionally engaging with his observational humour - the small but perfectly formed crowd of older couples, extended families and a handful of random tourists wasn't a million miles away from the typical BGT audience and loved every bit of it.

That's not to run down the other acts, who were superb throughout. Zara Brown's northern charm is always going to be a winner and the Russian oligarch wife character act (played by Laura Bodell was genius. Seeing acts do two sets in one night was really interesting too - though a couple did back-reference parts of the raps I performed in the first show to the second show audience to general confusion.

For my part it was overall a good night. In the first show the numbers were pretty low so I went and chatted with the Spanish and Irish tourists to match their first world problems to my tracks. A gamble that paid off and had the familiar "two shots! one shot!" bouncing back and forth across the room. I did another three tracks in the second show and after hitting the funny bones across the room with both 'Tales of the Unepected' and 'Chilling' I managed to kill them stone dead with 'Selfie Stick'. Perhaps a little too close to home for the selfie lovers in the room or perhaps having two songs where the interaction is restricted to hand claps is one too many. Probably should have gone with 'Craft Fair'.

Still, 11pm rolled around and I'd been in the function room for nearly five hours so I hopped on a train and found some kind of food on the way home having realised on the tube home my stomach ache probably had less to do with a pints I'd drunk and everything to do with not eating since lunch.

I return to Monkey Business in June.

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