Frog & Bucket Comedy Night, Preston Guild Hall
There’s always one at a comedy show isn’t there?
Someone who thinks they are funnier than the comic on stage and can’t refrain from shouting comments at every opportunity.
Sadly, the noisy punters we had the misfortune to sit near at this Frog and Bucket show were not funny in the slightest, just supremely annoying – especially the man who kept shouting out random inappropriate things and the woman who cackled like a hyena.
Their behaviour got worse as the night went on, and with the closing comic struggling, as they did, what began as a great night ended on a low.
The compere, Irish comic Jonny Candon got the monthly showcase off to a cracking start. Instantly likeable, Jonny’s jokes raised plenty of laughs and his interaction with the crowd was supreme.
Jonny gave way to the first of a trio of comedians, LEP columnist Steve Royle.
Steve was on great form and the jokes flowed freely, from bemoaning the high cost of everything at Center Parcs “You think you’ve already paid, but you haven’t” to talking about the nonsensical words in nursery rhymes.
Props always form an important part of Steve Royle’s acts and he didn’t disappoint.
He produced his balloon modelling paraphernalia and asked an audience member what animal she’d like him to create. However, he looked a bit flummoxed when she answered “Hyena”. Rounding off juggling and stuffing ping-pong balls into his mouth and producing them from various parts of his body, Steve won rapturous applause.
After such a great compere and opening act, I was a bit dubious when second comedian Andy Watson, who hails from Blackpool, arrived as he looked a bit of a beardy weirdy.
However, he was absolutely hilarious and had an infectious high energy style which had everyone in hysterics.
Sharp and witty one-liners kept coming and routines about pointless signs on the motorway such as ‘Fog’ to getting your eyes tested and how poking and prodding you in the eyes before offering glasses is a bit like: “a doctor giving you a dead leg then trying to sell you a mobility scooter”.
Almost crying with laughter, I couldn’t wait for the final act, but it was at this point things began going wrong. We noticed the interval was unusually long but finally, compere Jonny reappeared.
He was as funny and delightful as before, but it soon became clear he was padding as much as possible.
He eventually confessed that final act Benny Boot had gone to the Frog and Bucket in Manchester instead of Preston – but he was en route.
Eventually Benny arrived, and sadly I wish he hadn’t bothered – and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.
Benny was also beardy, but unlike his predecessor, he just wasn’t funny. I don’t know if he was flustered because he turned up late, but he failed to build rapport with the crowd and his jokes kept falling flat.
Even gags which raised the odd titter such as him relating how he wants to be cremated when he dies, but will eat raw popcorn kernels first to give everyone a good time, had an undercurrent of darkness.
The Aussie comic came across as nervous. I have seen other comedians easily quash hecklers, but when the noisy table and the main loudmouth started up, he was helpless.
I couldn’t help wishing Benny had hit traffic on his way from Manchester so the night could have ended on a high.