Live : 4 Good Comedians : Phil Chapman / Callum Oakley / Kate McCabe (MC) / Brandon Craig22.09.17 : Blue Sky Cafe, Bangor
The Blue Sky Cafe is the sort of place where everything is solid and substantial - the food is great, the staff friendly and not one of the chairs or tables set across its polished wooden floor creaks or rocks. This authenticity continues into the event programme - which includes 4Good Comedians, a comedy club as imagined by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall after a bawdy night out. As MC Kate McCabe said, "There are not many gigs where you can go home with a new tea cosy and homemade jam."
McCabe herself was a restless ball of pent up American comedic energy. With engaging warmth she spent the opening fifteen minutes of the evening exploring wildly disparate matters such as the meaning of Donald Trump's election and the correct use of a she-wee. She then proceeded to expertly frame three sets by very good comedians.
First out of the traps, Callum Oakley, who appeared on Britain's Got Talent when he was just 16. A promising career-start, despite eventual defeat by Pudsey the dog. On the Blue Sky stage he was informal, spontaneous and expansive - presenting twenty five minutes of stop-start, earthy humour. He held the audience with a charisma stolen from the funniest person you ever stood next to in a pub on a Friday night.
The middle slot was filled by Brandon Craig, a Canadian, who has the laconic delivery pace of storyteller David Sedaris. Although Craig told shorter form autobiographical anecdotes, they had the same self-critical and fantastical edge as the longer, more convoluted stories Sedaris specialises in. Effortlessly mixing bondage with culinary reportage - Brandon Craig is a compelling act to watch.
The headliner Phil Chapman was a revelation, not least due to the tempo of his set; his material delivered with the speed you'd normally associate with a premium online retailer. The result is you get forty five minutes' worth of comedy packed into just shy of thirty minutes of real time.
Chapman started with a riotously funny extended piece of conjecture - beginning with his thoughts on veganism he then segued into who would be eaten first, second, third and all the way to seventh, in a stranded-post-plane-crash situation. Observational it might have been, but with a strong narrative thread of cannibalism. He finished with an in-character song, coupled with the use of a past-its-best glove puppet, about using a self-service till in a supermarket.
In between there was a lot of laughter. He is exceptionally funny; you have to concentrate to follow his loose association, riffing, jazz-style comedy, but he is a rising star, no doubt.
Near the end of his set a man sat near the front uncontrollably exclaimed, "That's just fucking brilliant". As a form of praise it wouldn't work after a eulogy at a funeral or a good dental hygienist session, but here it was perfect, and so very, very right.
The next 4Good Comedians is on Friday 1st December - it is a special birthday edition, with headliner Noel James and an eclectic but superb supporting cast.