With the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee all but inescapable elsewhere St James in Guernsey offered something of a respite with a double headlined night of Comedy from husband and wife duo Marcus Brigstocke and Rachel Parris.
Being the first double headliner type comedy event I’d seen here Brigstocke set the stage with a comparatively loose introduction, explaining that he was doing an introduction is before Parris did her full set then for the second half she’d do the introduction and he’d do his full set, which possibly worked better than when the nights have had a comedian in a specific compère role.
That said his introduction felt somewhat like some of the full sets we’ve had from other comedians in the past with a mix or talking to the audience with more off the cuff feeling material about current affairs which certainly warmed the room up.
Having seen Parris recently, as part of The Comedy Store Players, I was interested to see what her own material would be like away from the improvised games seen there and for the next hour or so was treated to an exploration of life as recently married new mum navigating a world of lock downs and step kids.
On paper this sounds like the sort of thing that really couldn’t be further from my interests or personal situation but she had the knack of taking these subjects and opening them up in such a way that made them work even for me.
Along with this she gave us a few songs, played on the venues Steinway grand piano – it seems somewhat in contrast to the ‘little Casio keyboard’ she’d normally use.
These ranged from more current affairs based material to a culmination of a selection of her own brand of songs for the bedroom which added to the texture of her performance and really brought the highlights rounding off a set that could easily have been the headline set of any comedy show.
After a brief interval Parris returned to the stage to get us warmed up for Brigstocke, and did so with a terrific song, that was clearly already known to a few in attendance, that continued some of the themes of her main set, Hen Do (not Hindu) On a Train.
After a previous visit, where it felt like he maybe had held back a little on some of his more boundary pushing material, there was no such feeling here as Marcus Brigstocke launched into his set with an early routine about Gwyneth Paltrow’s interestingly scented candles before weaving his way through subjects as diverse as home schooling and Vladimir Putin on a horse, all with his usual juxtaposition of self deprecating confidence.
Given the relationship between he and Parris there were similarities in subject on occasion and it actually added to whole night when we got his side of subjects she’d tackled earlier, particularly around newly married life with a small child, and a couple of older children, during the lockdowns.
The highlight of this, and probably the whole night, came when he was joined by Parris for what felt like a more improvised (on her part) section parodying Jeremy Vine’s lunchtime show on BBC Radio 2 with a spot on impression of the presenter from Brigstocke and Parris playing several callers to the show – apparently a game they’d started playing at home during lockdown and he’d translated to the stage.
While it was clear some of his material pushed boundaries and touched certain sensitivities for some of the audience, it did so in what felt like the right way, never really going too far but not compromising for the sake of comfort either and while it’s clear his reputation as a ranting, almost polemic, political comedian has been tempered by wider life (or possibly just has to be to make for a digestible longer set) it’s clear this aspect, and the energy of it, still drives much of his material at heart.
This all made for a terrific evening out and continues St James’ run of strong comedy show with big names visiting the island that looks set to continue as the year goes on, while also being a refreshing antidote to the wall to wall coverage of the Jubilee elsewhere.