Review: Boothby and Co are the funny business

Boothby Graffoe… one of the best
10 May 2013 @ 1.12 pm
| Entertainment
Boothby Graffoe… one of the best. Photograph: Steve Shooter
Boothby Graffoe… one of the best. Photograph: Steve Shooter

Sitting Room Comedy: SHOW
Venue: Monkbar Hotel, Thursday, May 9

Sitting Room Comedy have made the Monkbar Hotel their home in York, running regular events with some excellent names from the comedy circuit having made appearances for them. This night of musical comedy, part of the York Spring Festival of New Music brought together a couple of well established names I recognised, with a couple I didn’t.

It was a little strange returning to the Monkbar, given that I used to run charity comedy nights there and that almost a year ago, my wedding reception was in the very room we sat down in. The set, for it is a set, is very intimate; making what is a massive room feel cosy and welcoming.

Compere Tom Taylor, whose awkward charm welcomed us with some fun banter and a song, kept the event moving along, bringing Helen Arney onto the stage.

Arney is disarming, cute and funny, but there is a kind of manic charm to some of her ukulele-led songs. You might also call it a sinister whimsy. The highlight of her set was a song about dating a boyfriend in a coma.

Next up was Nick Doody, known to me as a comedian on BBC Radio’s The Now Show, with some very funny stories. As he himself puts it, he is a stand up doing a bit of music, fitting with the theme of the event. Doody brings a very likeable stage presence, self deprecating but very funny indeed.

For me, the show really picked up pace with the introduction of Kirsty Newton, starting her set with a country song about allergies, which had me chuckling. Newton is much more musician doing comedy than comedian doing music, and her songs had a very natural feel, evoking tears of laughter from my wife at her song about being left handed.

As one of only a few left handers in the room, it hurt, but not as much as it made me laugh. If you get a chance to see her, please do.

And then, onto the main event of the evening, Boothby Graffoe. I have seen Graffoe before, but not for about 15 years. In that time he has developed into a “multi-award winning comedian and songwriter”, and on this evidence he deserves the plaudits.

Graffoe showed why he has been consistently one of the UK’s best comics. When a show ends with a wholly unexpected sing-along, and you don’t mind, that is when you know you are in the hands of a master.

A greatly enjoyable night – marred only by a very loud talker in the crowd – was had by all. July brings the TV favourite Andi Osho to York, well worth a visit to this unconventional venue for.