The inaugural Kick Back Comedy night at the Back Room of the Star Inn Pub started with a bang on Saturday night as the packed out crowd were treated to a feast of giggles, anecdotes and insults. The night ran for approximately two hours and featured four comedians with a host of experience behind them- all hardened performers who have won accolades and played some of the biggest clubs and festivals around the UK.
The name ‘Kick Back’ was potentially a ruse, lulling the unexpected Guildford crowd into a false sense of security, thinking they were in for a gentle night of mild-mannered entertainment. This was partly reinforced with the homely feel that was created in the Back Room by Guildford Fringe Theatre Company, with chairs being set up in rows at the front, a few tables dotted around behind them and even a bar open for patrons to constantly remain refreshed. There were two intervals in between the acts for those wanting to stretch their legs, use the facilities or nip out for any other reason. All very leisurely it would seem, but let’s not forget this was a comedy gig in an intimate setting where the crowd were very close to the performers…
A harrowed fan was heard muttering the words, “I thought I would be safe in the third row… it turns out I wasn’t!” as they exited the show at the end, slightly less comfortable looking than they had been two hours before, but grinning nonetheless. The evening was full of raucous laughter, winces and ooh’s and aah’s as some of the audience vocally questioned the boundaries being crossed on stage, before remembering they were at a comedy show and all of this was good natured fun. And fun it certainly was.
Debra-Jane Appleby (shown above) was our Master of Ceremonies for the night, bouncing onto the stage to begin with and immediately started poking fun out of some of the audience members. There were a few uneasy bums on seats when the crowd suddenly became acutely aware that they themselves would be part of the show as she went about picking on a few of the front row guests. Poor Alan the lighthouse keeper took a lot of the brunt, as did Fabien who was celebrating a birthday and had some reserved seats that were unoccupied towards the front. However, as much stick as they were given, the only tears on show were through laughter and in a lovely twist later on, Fabien was presented with two birthday cakes as we all sung Happy Birthday to her. Debra-Jane Appleby brought the night together well throughout by introducing each of the other acts whilst also showcasing her own talent as a tough-talking, no nonsense Northern comedian.
The first featured act on stage was the Aussie comedian Johnny Kats who plied his trade on home shores earlier in his career, playing at a sold out Melbourne International Comedy Festival previously, before now touring round the world. Johnny’s act consisted of a mixture of accents and impersonations thrown in with some of the usual anecdotes about his relationship with his girlfriend as his problems snoring. It was high-energy, high-pitched and often involved a story about the comedian himself being high. Unfortunately, the crowd were still a little shell-shocked from the bombardment they had received first off from Debra-Jane Appleby and maybe hadn’t warmed up properly as some of the genuine moments of comedy were lost on quite a tough crowd who were reserved instead of rapturous.
However, by the time Fern Brady had finished the second set of the night, the mood was very different and the crowd were beginning to loosen up and appreciate the quality on show. Fern had not been on the original billing, but stepped up to the plate as Gemma Whelan had to pull out of the gig just hours before the start. Despite this last minute change around, Fern did an outstanding job of shocking and delighting in equal measure with a sparkle in her eye that signalled both danger and excitement. She has previously been described as “obnoxious, rude and utterly brilliant” and not many could argue with that sentiment, however, there was a cold confidence and underlying intelligence in her set that must be recognised. With Frankie Boyle floundering somewhat nowadays, we could be seeing the rise of a new, foul-mouthed Glaswegian comedian that turns classic toilet humour into a clever reflection on modern society.
Finally, the headline act and most assured of all the performers was Nick Revell (pictured at the top). Nick has featured at the Edinburgh Fringe, The Comedy Store and Jongleurs as well as writing for several top comic TV and radio shows which highlights the calibre of his talent. Nick certainly had the most poise on stage and well-rounded act that simply flew by with a laugh a minute and then built to a crescendo of laughter as he mimicked what morning bird song would actually sound like if translated into English. His set was constructed incredibly well as he threw in a few accents and went on tangents mid-story that may have initially appeared to have taken us in a completely new direction, before actually tying back in nicely later on. Nick had confidence in abundance and proved a fitting way to close the show.
Overall, a big thumbs up goes to Kick Back Comedy and Guildford Fringe Theatre Company for putting on a highly successful and entertaining first comedy night to a sell-out crowd. Despite a last minute pull out, the night went off without a hitch and provided great value for money for those lucky enough to grab tickets whilst they were still available. The next show will be on March 8, but after that will continue to be on the first Saturday of every month for the rest of the year. So if you didn’t make it this Saturday, then fear not, you can get to another show soon to see what all the fuss is about.