In which I discover Danny Dyer’s Greenhouse, drink watered down wine and am totally not fancied by a man with no teeth.
Gig no: 55. Where? Boleyn Tavern, Upton Park
Why? I asked.
Who Held My Hand? Not a bringer. But 2 surprise guests turn up in the form of Actor Mate, Peter and Wino Director Mate. Result.
What Happened? In keeping with this “will it or will it not be a damp Devil’s basement” comedy lark, I once again step into the unknown, a short trip from West Ham.
London has done it again and delivered a Grade II listed gem of a pub in the middle of CARNAGE. I’ve never been to Upton Park for a million and one obvious reasons. Everything about this night screams NOOOOOO and then pleasantly turns all preconceptions on their ‘ead son.
The Boleyn is HUGE. The comedy room is a sizeable sculptured ceiling affair with a raised stage area surrounded by wooded balustrade. Every comic looks like they’re in the dock. I reference this in my first line, having learned that audiences love you to make shit personal, unique to them and the venue. Reader, I am evolving.
“This is my first time at the Boleyn Tavern and I feel like I’m in the dock. And I’m from Liverpool.” (Grabs balustrade) “Ar-ey, I never done it yer Honour!” Big laughs.
It’s a discerning crowd. Very much the dregs of a working man’s pub and I mean that sincerely. The Boleyn’s cards are marked. Now West Ham have moved, it’s a cavernous church without a congregation. I say this with all the assumed authority of one in the footie know. I DO NOT KNOW, NOR CARE. Someone told me.
I’m slightly suspicious they water down their wine. It’s the one and only time I’ve seen Wino Director Mate reject a glass of wine claiming “it’s undrinkable.” Personally, I have never paid so little for wine-flavoured water that still made me pissed. SO WHAT YOU COMPLAININ’ ABAAAAAHT??!
Still, I hope it survives. This pub is nice. The set up for comedy is lovely, raised stage, great sound and organised by really decent people who have gone to the trouble of printing their own BAGS.
There are a few familiar faces – the excellent Dave Black and Imogen Edmundson who I’ve seen before and who has a brilliant night. She even earns her own stalker who has every other tooth and the first cauliflower nose I’ve seen.
I love a rough crowd. If they don’t laugh, you are shit.
Actor mate Peter knows a promoter who runs a big comedy night in town. He’s shown up coz he’s close and to check I’m not shit before he recommends me. I have a flash of nerves as the room is big and fairly empty when he gets there.
The room is open to the rest of the pub. They even turn the music off when we start which is unexpectedly decent and punters wander in freely when they overhear something good. They also wander out. The size of the audience is directly connected to how shite you are. You can see it grow or dwindle BEFORE YOUR EYES.
I’m 2nd on in the 2nd half, following Imogen Edmundson and a shit load of Wine Water. Imogen does really well and the crowd has swelled some. I’m looking forward to this…
“I only get Northern now when cornered. Like in a mugging situation. I’ve not been mugged, but I’ve just moved to Woolwich…”
“It’s coming” shouts a lady in the front row. I say lady…
I don’t mind someone nicking a punchline. At least they’re listening.
No one leaves, in fact I believe I gain a punter or two. The crowd is healthy and loud when I finish. There is also genuine delight among the men-folk that they’ve sat through TWO WHOLE WOMEN being funny and they weren’t shit.
At the end of the night, Imogen’s stalker and his mate wander over. “You women were the best,” they ejaculate with flattering surprise. “You made it good.” Cauliflower-nose Stalker turns to Imogen: “And YOU are pretty.”