Posted by: Richard Frost | 22 May 2013

Stand-up to the noise – Chorlton Comedy Showcase

Chorlton Comedy Showcase performance from Phyllis Von HoistHow do you review an event you can’t hear?

Since setting up my blog a couple of years back, I’ve covered a fair few events round south Manchester – festivals, exhibitions, gigs…But I’ve always taken it for granted that I could hear what I’m supposed to be writing about. Not any more.

Over the weekend, I went along to South West Manchester Cricket Club to review five acts performing at the Chorlton Comedy Showcase as part of Chorlton Arts Festival 2013. At a rough guess, I probably only caught a quarter of the show. And not because I got there late or because I had too much to drink (though both have happened in the past…).

So what went wrong?

Put simply, it was just too noisy. Fair play to the Manchester PR people tasked with publicising this event because they did a stellar job, to the extent that you could barely get through the door for most of the night. Unfortunately the constant stream of people making their way to the bar and back created a near-impenetrable wall of sound.

Now we can all forgive the odd hushed exchange, but people were literally shouting across the room. True, it was a Saturday night and half the crowd weren’t there to watch stand-up (some watched Eurovision on the big screen instead!). However, the fact that members of the audience and even the acts themselves were making incessant pleas for quiet told its own story.

Oh yeah, what of the acts?

It feels strange reviewing comedians when I couldn’t hear most of what they said, but what the hell. First up was Edinburgh Fringe Festival alumnus Joshua Seigal:

Stand-up comedy from Joshua Seigal in Chorlton

His confident delivery allowed him to hold his own against the noise, even though his aggressively intellectual poems didn’t always connect with the audience.

Next was Sam Smith. I honestly couldn’t hear any of his set so let’s move on.

The standout performer on the night was act number three, Phyllis Von Hoist (see top-right photo). As the only one to keep the crowd quiet, she deserved a medal. But this hilarious portrayal of a deluded girl from Salford – convinced her calling is to teach women to behave like ladies – was character acting at its best and will surely get the rewards it deserves.

Fourth on was Daniel Hutchings:

Daniel Hutchings covering the Beatles

He bounded in after the interval with a Beatles cover that, as I’m sure you can see, was hard to ignore. But the rest of his set struggled to keep the crowd’s attention as the lure of Eurovision proved too tempting.

The final act, The Tourists, only fared marginally better. Despite being filled with surreal sketches that were funny in isolation, the set clearly hinged on how the skits joined together to make a complete story – and I’m afraid I couldn’t hear enough of that to judge whether it worked or not.

It’s important to point out that this venue is staging other events at Chorlton Arts Festival 2013 so I really hope it gets the sound issues sorted. Maybe staff could ask people to keep quiet, or turn up the volume on the sound system (and move back the speakers so everyone can see). Failing that, at least the next acts won’t have Eurovision to contend with!

So there you have it – a review of an event I couldn’t hear. Turns out it is possible after all.



  1. it’s good to read an honest revue of a venue. I’ve been at / performed at venues where there’s been competition from noisy bar staff/punters – and also at venues who have made efforts to provide a performer-friendly venue ( ‘Horse and Jockey’ for instance )


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