Blink, and you’re in danger of missing this little beauty of a venue up in Angel. The Camden Head (the one in Angel, not in Camden) sits just off the main road, down a little alley, which gives it a nice ‘hidden gem’ feel without being too much trouble to find, if your being honest.
I’ve heard great things about Angel Comedy – that the venue was a nice atmosphere and the selection of acts fairly decent. I’m not really one for being desperate to see only ‘big names’, but I do like my stand up nights to have a good mixed bill – regardless of how good a comedian is, you don’t want 5 or 6 acts in the same vein. Or I don’t, at least. Variety is important to me.
So, this particular night being advertised as a new act/new material night, I knew we were in for a mixed bag in every sense. I knew there’d be a range of experience and development – by that I mean the experience of the comedian themselves and also the development of the material. This is maybe where I’ll get really boring because I absolutely love comedy and love the craft of it. And personally, I think the best way to appreciate comedy is to see it live – actually in the room. You absolutely can enjoy what you see on television or on a DVD, but accept that is very much a polished and edited version of what the comedy experience is in the most part. As long as you’re aware of that, you won’t suffer too much shock should you ever wander into a pub on a comedy night and decide to stick around.
It was a pretty full bill, 10 or possibly even 12 acts on, all introduced onstage by Barry Ferns – who was an amiable and very capable compere, keeping the audience warm between comics and keeping the energy levels high for what was a packed evening. It was clear from performance to performance that there were differing levels of experience in the room, but all comedians had the workings of some funny ideas. Some landed better than others – some routines just needed a bit of trimming, perhaps going on a beat too long and reducing the effect of the joke.
Of the comics I had never seen perform before, I particularly enjoyed the opening act, Alastair Beckett-King – nice stage presence and funny stories. His skit on historical figures whilst holding up their portraits was a display of creative history retelling not seen since Andy Zaltzman’s last Bugle podcast.
Additionally I have to give a mention to Lost Voice Guy, the act who I primarily attended to see – he continues to deliver a cracking set when I’ve seen him. For those who are unaware, LVG is also known as Lee Ridley, a stand up comedian without a voice. Living with cerebral palsy, he communicates with an iPad text-to-speech program. I know he not-so-secretly revels in the mixed reactions in the audience when he steps onstage. But once the opening lines are delivered, the crowd are on board. Whilst you might think the computerised voice would hold him back, Lee uses it to great comic effect, with deliberate mispronunciations and even adjusting the voice on occasion to deliver the punchline.
I’d certainly recommend the venue – they have a tradition of supporting up and coming acts as well as attracting big names from the live circuit and TV who are running new material through – do take a look at their website for lineups at the Camden Head and at their sister venue, the Bill Murray pub, just a bit further down the road.