Live : Llangollen Comedy Club : Boothby Graffoe / Andy White / James Cook / Silky (MC)04.01.2019 : Town Hall [Llangollen]
Llangollen Town Hall exists in the space somewhere between church hall and theatre, offering a timeworn but perfect setting for a comedy performance. Even before you get into the venue there's a scuffed humility written in the solid stone steps, softened by generations of eager feet, which lead up to it. The monthly club the Town Hall hosts has passed through four sets of hands in a decade and moved here from its original home at the Pavilion - finding what seems like its rightful place in the centre of the community.
Headliner Boothby Graffoe has visited Llangollen before. Early in the club's life he memorably tore up a packed hall with high-octane, loose association riffing; still one of the funniest and most complete comedy sets I have ever seen. For this early January date he was supported by James Cook and Andy White, with the evening's merriment corralled throughout by Silky, who expertly framed the other performers.
James Cook is an accomplished opening act. With an amiable, conversational but definitely quick-witted style, he slowly warmed the crowd for a quarter of an hour before building the pace for a boisterous closing five minutes built around his observations on aging; his own, his father's and that of a man at the gym - the latter complete with hair-drying visual imagery no-one in the audience will shake off until March.
In contrast Andy White offered more edge from the outset. There's a great deal of charm and cheek in his stage persona, but he cleverly plays with this to create comedic tension; at one point with bleaker material featuring Rolf Harris he turned back to his innocent self, as if confused by the path of his own narrative. There's a gentle comic genius at work behind White's self-effacing delivery.
On his return to Llangollen Boothby Graffoe triumphed again. With humour full of spontaneous tangents, off the cuff impressions, jokes with long elliptical arcs and songs that gathered momentum then stopped dead with irresistible punchlines, he furiously sketched and skitted through material that ranged from the Rolling Stones to junk mail, and most of everything in-between. Utterly absorbing and uproarious from start-to-finish.
After the headline set finally ended with a greatly deserved encore, we went back down the stone steps in a quick flow of excited and amused people; outside the ceaseless winter roar of the Dee under the town's ancient bridge, white Christmas lights edging the empty high street and a sense of, for all the venue's lack of pretension, having been royally entertained like a king.