Comedy Review - Laugh Inn at The Park
by Clive Basingstoke
Aberdeen’s newest comedy night has just had it’s debut show at the Inn at the Park Hotel. Hosted by Jamie Tait, a hairdresser turned glamorous entertainer, the night was an overall success with a couple of pitfalls that, if they were addressed in the coming shows, would make the night a real tour-de-force in the Aberdeen comedy scene.
The night was advertised as a show for established comedians to try out new material and as a space for new acts to cut their teeth onstage. While this is very much a valuable commodity in the comedy world for new talent to flourish, the entry price of £5 seemed a bit steep considering that there was no guarantee that the acts would be worth the money. Red Raw, the new act night at the well-known Stand comedy clubs, only requires £2 for entry and has a professional act hosting the night, usually with an experienced headliner at the end to round things off well. Although the night drew in a sizeable crowd, future events may suffer as friends of the acts will likely make up less of the attending audience. The quality of the show will have to increase in order to compensate for this.
Being an open mic night it’s expected that there would be some new acts still finding their feet onstage. Examples include Andrew Johnston and Jimi Longmuir who, while they have decent ideas and clever lines, did not have the confidence or stage presence to make their material shine as well as it could have. There were a number of awkward pauses where a laugh could have been, had they made their act smoother and more concise. Mike Ewing, who seemed to be under the impression that everyone else knew the celebrities that he kept making references to during his punchlines, had a pleasant enough act but his potential fell short by a lack of measured self-critique.
However, the night was generally entertaining and held together well by Jamie Tait who warmed the crowd with her bright and fierce stage persona. With some time and dedication she will probably move up in the ranks of the comedy world. As a host her timing was on point, putting in a little bit of her own material to keep the crowd in high spirits but not outstaying her welcome either.
Acts such as Violet Wilde, Scott Christie and Steve Shepard showed great promise. Violet is easy to listen to with a friendly and earnest stage persona and wickedly wild observations about life as a single mother as well as what dating younger men is like. Her punchlines lacked some, well, punch, but it’s obvious she has the capacity to make improvements. Scott (who was given a well deserved surprise birthday cake after his performance) was reminiscent of a younger, Scottish Emo Philips with his off-beat speech cadence as well as his absurd observations about seagulls and other topics he had a surreal take on. Although he appeared nervous, he held it together incredibly well, showing great promise for someone his age. Steve, who addressed his English accent immediately and used it to great effect with his self-deprecating style of humour, was also an easy act to enjoy. However, like Violet, his material seemed to lack that extra kick that would have upgraded his act to high quality.
Finally the acts that really shone out and gave the night that extra something were Scott Forbes, Tom McGinn and Grant Martin. Scott and Tom have been part of the Aberdeen comedy scene for over a decade now and it really shows in their ability to handle the stage. Scott was the first act of the night and roused the crowd with animated tales of Brexit, crazy ex-girlfriends and life as a father. Although his material didn’t always have the desired effect, his stage presence and willingness to make fun of himself made watching him a delight. Tom’s set about his time as a Deliveroo driver and surgery he had on his arm was delivered in a slick manner, meaning although some of the lines didn’t hit their mark it was never a drag to listen to. Grant Martin’s outgoing flair onstage gave his set an enjoyable ambience to it as he regaled the audience with tales of his sexual exploits and other topics he excitedly unpacked for us. Although his material could use some polish and rewording, he shows the intelligence and confidence to be able to really shine onstage.
The venue of the gig seems to be an unexplored gem for semi-regular comedy events. Situated not too far from the center of town, Inn at the Park lends itself well to being a spacious and welcoming venue. Perhaps the only downside came from the utilisation of the room for stage performance, as there was no actual stage or dedicated lighting to make the performance area stand out. Hopefully these issues are addressed in the future and will make the price tag match the experience.
Overall I enjoyed LaughInn at the Park. Although it’s by no means the best that Aberdeen has to offer, with a little elbow grease and a better understanding of value for money, it could be a great staple of the Aberdeen comedy scene.