Laugh Local, the funny younger brother of Bop Local, has been a strictly South Manchester affair since the first one was staged in November 2012. Until now.
On Saturday a packed Heaton Park Sports & Social Bar saw four top comedians bring the funny to Prestwich.
Host and driving force behind Laugh Local is Justin Moorhouse – on sparkling form tonight. His energy kept the whole night moving along at a fair old lick and he was at his best when riffing off the audience, especially the unfortunate front row. His general vibe was warm, with a touch of menace. A winning combination.
First up was Dave Williams. Describing himself on his Twitter bio as ‘playfully smutty’, Williams wasted no time in getting down and dirty, but with a disarmingly cheeky delivery. Some of his stuff was pretty near the knuckle and prompted some sucking of teeth rather than belly laughs, but his delivery was polished and his fearless testing of boundaries was a breath of fresh air – even if it was a sharp in-breath.
Greg Cook was up next. A big warm sweary cuddle of a man, like a bigger version of Al Murray’s pub landlord. Except the pub landlord is a character – with Cook, I’m not so sure. He’s deliciously deadpan, with a Les Dawson-esque sparkle in his eye, and ended up with the crowd eating out of the palm his hand.
John Thomson headlined in a return to stand-up following a hiatus of several years. Thomson highlights a May gig with Jason Cook and Justin Moorhouse at The Ark in Stockton-on-Tees as the moment he caught the bug again.
“The crowd was just electric. I’d always felt that I’d missed the boat – not capitalising on the success of shows like Cold Feet when I had the chance.”
Appearances at the Comedy Store and Frog & Bucket followed, and although this is his last comedy gig before he heads off on a three month tour of John Godber’s September In The Rain, he’ll be back on the circuit before too long.
A departure from the character-based comedy of The Fast Show, Thomson’s set here is a mix of observations from his career, straight-ahead gags and some quite splendid impressions – and Thomson has spotted a gap in the market:
“There’s only really Alistair (McGowan) and Roni (Ancona) doing that sort of impression-based comedy at the moment.”
Yeah, but Roni Ancona isn’t doing impersonations of shells being loaded into a missile launcher.
John Thomson really should be better known for these voices – some of his Hollywood characters are utterly spot on, eliciting gasps within the first couple of words, as all the best impressions should – and he includes some voices I’ve never heard done before (his Bruce Willis and Christopher Walken particularly stand out). A fine end to the evening.
Laugh Local may be the young upstart to the cooler Bop Local, but judging on first impressions this young lad will go far.
Review and photographs by Chris Payne
Where: Heaton Park Sports & Social Bar, Prestwich
More info: check the website for details of upcoming Laugh Locals http://boplocal.tumblr.com/