One of the biggest names in stand-up and some up and coming comedians shared the stage at Kettering’s latest Live at the Lighthouse comedy night.
These biannual nights have seen the likes of Sean Hughes and Milton Jones top the bill, and Jones’ fellow Mock the Week regular Stewart Francis was the headline act this time around on Friday night.
The Canadian funnyman was road-testing his material ahead of his forthcoming Pun Gent tour, which begins in April.
It’s fair to say you know what you’re going to get with Francis – non-stop wordplay and one-liners, some of which work better than others, but delivered in such a way that you can’t help but grin (or groan).
One or two of the gags fell flat, and Francis stumbled over his lines once or twice, but that’s the point of this sort of gig – to weed out and improve the weaker jokes, and smooth out the rough edges.
All in all it was a satisfyingly funny end to an evening which had hit the ground running with compere Dan Evans a couple of hours earlier.
He performed his primary role of warming up the audience admirably, mercilessly targeting any members of the audience in the front five rows who caught his eye and mocking both them and himself equally.
Attempting to stoke up inter-town rivalry never fails to go down well, and much fun was had at the expense of Wellingborough and Rothwell on this occasion.
The first act of the night, Andy Doyle, was a late replacement for the billed Ben Norris, and got off to a slow start.
But his highly personal routine soon won over the wary audience, and by the end we would have been happy to spend more time in his company.
The next comedian on stage, George Egg, hardly said a word for the opening five minutes of his appearance, but he got some of the biggest laughs of the night.
Looking and sounding like Bill Bailey’s even more heavily bearded cousin (but still with a bald head – he looks nothing like his publicity pictures), his physical comedy routine went down a treat, and once he did start telling jokes the laughs kept flowing.
Angry young man Sean McLoughlin kept the crowd bubbling nicely before the headline act, with a selection of well-crafted but funny (and again very personal) rants.
These sorts of comedy night can be a bit of a mixed bag at times, but not this one.
The five performers were all distinct in their own way and between them sent the sell-out audience home happy.