Over the last nine months or so you might have noticed St James Concert Hall featuring more regularly as a venue for music events I’ve been covering. Not only that but the new management have also been featuring comedy night’s featuring visiting performers including the likes of Gina Yashere and Terry Alderton, and now tonight, Rob Rouse and Marcus Brigstocke.
While Rob Rouse (who you might recognise from TV series Upstart Crow) was nominally the ‘warm up act’ doing a solid 45 minutes meant that the show felt more like a double header if you discount the relative fame of the performers.
Heading onto the stage with a real spring in his step Rouse proceeded to base his set on talking to the audience, along with a few local observations, and heading off into anecdotes inspired by that.
In this he also chose a few people to pick on particularly – mostly those who seemed least interested in cooperating, including one gentleman who, when asked his job, answered ‘millionaire’ (well done for helping change that image of the island).
While this could have headed in the direction of having a go at the unsuspecting audience members, Rouse kept it on the right side, bringing them into the show and, more often than not, making himself the butt (at one point literally) of the jokes.
This served to warm the audience up very well as he certainly seemed to push this crowds sense of taste and decency but always left them laughing and ready for the headliner.
After the interval, and a brief return of Rob Rouse to get us back in the mood with a look through the Guernsey Press’ classified section, Marcus Brigstocke took to the stage.
Across an hour he weaved his way through a set that ebbed and flowed from the personal to the political with a remarkable deftness showing an art hidden behind a persona that is at once supremely confident but self deprecating, something that possibly stems from, and plays into, his self confessed poshness.
Pushing boundaries of taste as far as he could, Brigstocke seemed to judge the audience’s sensibility perfectly whether it was discussing sex education, use of accents or references to religion (and specifically a routine about a Magic Eye rendering of the Prophet Mohammed) and while for me he could have pushed it further, the reaction to a few of the jokes seemed to indicate he hit the nail on the head.
While known for his political work he tempered that here well, and while I was maybe expecting more ranting on subjects like Brexit and Trump, in hindsight it was somewhat refreshing that, while he touched on them, he didn’t go too deep as really what more can be said…
What made the set really work though was the level and depth of local knowledge he showed which he weaved brilliantly into what was obviously his more usual routines and stories.
All of this made for an hour or so of hugely funny stand up from a big name in the field who it was great to see on stage in Guernsey in front of an, if not quite sold out, large audience and I can’t wait to see more nights like this in this rather grand old venue.