The View From the Front: Lucy Pearman


There’s nothing like agoraphobia to really put a spanner in the works of a good comedy blog. Thankfully, Howl Sanctuary stalwart Flash (aka Neal Peters) has been doing the hard work so I don’t have to. Here’s a review of Lucy Pearman, from his excellent blog View From the Front. Thanks, Neal – Aaah-aaaah! You Saved Every One of Us!


I’m not a fan of character or clown comedy (except in a couple of cases) but I love Lucy Pearman’s Maid.

I was aware of Lucy from the LetLuce duo but her solo show Maid of Cabbage secured her place in my comedy mind palace. I first saw it at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2017, after experiencing a smattering at All Day Edinburgh, at the brilliant Monkey Barrel venue, where Lucy was nominated for Best Newcomer.

The show tells the story of a new maid in an, let’s say, Edwardian country house owned by the abusive Lord and Lady Wynd, and her hunt for the perfect cabbage, whilst trying to not let her bad side out.

Lucy is a highly imaginative and creative performer and literally interacts with her entire audience, shaking hands with everyone as part of the introduction. The props and puppets are cleverly utilised and implimented and there’s a fair amount of audience involvement with little instruction, which allows the Maid to play even more, slightly embarrassing the “victim”. However, Lucy chooses subjects well and no-one ever seems to mind, even whoever gets to play the horse.

I’ve really enjoyed this show each time I’ve seen it but now it’s coming to an end and the Maid must leave service soon, as Lucy prepares for her next world for us to be invited in to.

Not a prodigious tweeter or facebooker, Lucy can be followed here and here, but please do try to track down Lucy’s performances wherever you can.

This review appears on Neal’s View From the Front blog. With thanks to Neal for letting us feature his writing. 




TV Review: Red Dwarf XII Episode 2

Guest reviewer: Simon Wiedemann

So, the latest episode of Red Dwarf, Siliconia; was it any good? Well, it started off small, with ‘everyday’, space age banter. However, the conversations were far from boring. The classic lighthearted tone was set immediately and all dialogue linked in with the grander environments and plots that were to come. The contrast from normal to odd and almost nightmarish was is in part what made this episode intriguing. These scenario changes progressed very well and impressively subtly, and came neither too late or too soon. Not only were Kryten’s reactions to his changing surroundings amusing, they simultaneously paralleled modern day social problems in a way that was deep, well thought out and unpretentious. As time went on, more and more connections between fiction and reality were made, in a way that was almost scary.

Whilst the way things went from good to worse was captivating, the way things turned back to normal seemed very rushed. Not only did the ending almost come out of nowhere, it was also quite unrealistic. Things went from terrible to great and there were no more issues to be dealt with, when really there should have been. It was kind of a childish ‘and they lived happily ever after’ plot device. Unfortunately, this seems to becoming a habit with Red Dwarf, now. The first episode of series 12 had huge adversities conquered in seconds and with next to no effort. I’m sure the creators of the program would have loved to make their work a good ten minutes longer, so as to make their ambitions more believable. In comparison, imagine a Doctor Who show only lasting 30 minutes. It would be very difficult to pull off.

Despite the many strengths of the comedic themes, the characters could have been fresher at times; Rimmer was often annoying, the cat shallow, Kryten sensible and Lister immature. Ring any bells? However, due to unforeseen circumstances, the characters were forced to change their ways, and because of this, there was some interesting character development. It didn’t last forever, but the journey was nevertheless engaging. The occasional reference to past Red Dwarf shows (for example Lister’s guitar and his music in general) created a sense of nostalgia and hope for things to come. Did this episode capture the magic of the ones all those years ago? In my opinion, I think it did for the most part. Perhaps the science fiction elements of the latest show weren’t as strong and unique as the now quite old ones, but they did at least make sense and invoke curiosity.


Review: Daniel Simonsen – No Net



Reviewer: Andy McHaffie

daniel simonsen 2

For three nights in a row I’ve found myself watching Daniel Simonsen’s ever changing show at The Bill Murray as part of the Camden Fringe. This year he has two shows: No Net, and Net. The first show is completely unscripted as he speaks about whatever pops into his head, or maybe tries to improve on routines that he came up with the night before.

Daniel Simonsen won the best newcomer award at the Edinburgh Fringe 5 years ago, but I think most of these audiences know him as Bob Mortimer’s oddball son from the brilliant “House Of Fools”. That’s what I gathered from my pre-show eavesdropping anyway!

The first show I saw on Sunday, Daniel was not really enjoying it. He felt uncomfortable and didn’t have any confidence in himself. I know that because Daniel told us straight up, which I think made a lot of the audience lose trust in him, which meant the show was never really going to recover. There were some great bits though, such as his long explanation of why red is his favourite colour and telling us that his nickname growing up was ‘Crying Daniel’. But there were real belly laughs all round when he decided to try out a few different accents.

The next night there was a much smaller audience in, and Daniel expressed surprise that I was back, having seen the show the previous night. I did tell him that it really wasn’t as bad as he thought it was! But this show was blisteringly funny! The Crying Daniel routine was lengthened, and there were far fewer silences than the night before. Sadly he had dropped his Irish accent this time which was a shame, because it’s such a lot of fun to hear someone with such a distinctive accent try some other ones.

I found back there on Tuesday, and again another superb show. The accents were back and Crying Daniel was even stronger. The only thing that spoiled it was two annoying audience members who insisted on a Q&A session, with one of them in particular being downright rude by asking Daniel “What’s the best joke you have?” Daniel told them he doesn’t really do jokes, but he thought for a bit and left the stage with a wonderfully out of character piece of smut!

Net is slowly evolving from No Net, and as the days go on I fully expect this to be a totally joyful, funny, five star show. There are three more No Nets left before Net begins. Check the Angel Comedy website for dates and times.

Daniel Simonsen on Russell Howard’s Good News

Daniel as Eric on “House OF Fools”

Review: John Robertson: The Dark Room


Phoenix, Cavendish Square, 6 July 2017

Yes! I have finally arrived as a comedy reviewer, in that I was actually offered free tickets to a gig. Albeit I had to turn up and pretend to be someone else, but still, I’m on my way.

The freeness of the gig was partly what got me there, because from the billing I was convinced that The Dark Room was Not My Sort Of Thing. For a start, the only descriptions I saw online were heavy with mentions of horror, death and fear, and my mental health is currently so precarious that an emotional dog meme is enough to send me into an existential crisis. My general practice is not to research shows online before I see them, as I prefer to go with an open mind, but verbal feedback from people who’d seen the show described it as ‘very dark’  which at least adheres to the description, I suppose.

As one might glean from the title, we were ushered in and seated in a dark room, which for the purposes of this show was the basement room of the Phoenix which provided just the right level of gloom. The only things I could vaguely make out were a screen up ahead, and a trestle table of assorted rammel, including a pineapple, a fur coat and a bathmat.

After a few minutes of tense anticipation (this isn’t the sort of show where you have a chirpy compere warming you up) on came Robertson, his bleached hair swept back, and his terrifyingly spiked collar bedecked with strips of neon. I can only describe him as a modern-day Riff-Raff, and his delivery is also pretty O’Brien-esque. In fact, the whole show bore a lot in common with the Rocky Horror show, from the audience call-and response to the in-jokes between devoted attendees.

And it quickly became clear that The Dark Room was indeed a cult phenomenon. At least half of the audience had been before and quite a few sported the mark of the true geek: the merch t-shirt. But even as a newbie it was easy to join in and me and my party of three mates (who were all new to the show) quickly picked up on where to join in.

Billed as  ‘the world’s only live-action video game‘ the concept is pretty simple. Each round of the game begins with the same premise: you awake to find yourself in a dark room, and you have four options. Which one you choose will determine the course of the adventure, and Robertson promises the winner a prize of £1000. Losers, sadly, are killed off, to gleeful shrieks from the audience of ‘YA DIE, YA DIE, YA DIE!!!’


If this sounds intimidating, it’s not. No one is dragged up on stage, and even Robertson’s crowdwork is archly camp rather than insulting – when myself and blue-haired lady got picked to play, he described us as ‘the two ladies with coloured hair who have not yet given up all hope of joy in the world’. Participants are invited to choose options from their seats, which keeps the game moving nice and quickly. Player after player meets their grim fate, but they don’t leave empty handed (I came home clutching the rather fetching bath mat).

Five minutes into the show, I was glad I came. Ten minutes in, I decided that this was just what I needed in my life. And by the end of the show, I’d decided that if we all had a bit more of this in our lives we wouldn’t have voted Brexit. In short, The Dark Room is what the world needs, it’s an hour of pure, unalloyed joy, camp, and silliness. It’s definitely going on my Edinburgh spreadsheet.

Speaking of which, Robertson is also doing two other Edinburgh shows: a kids version of the Dark Room, which I reckon will be no less hilarious, and his stand up show Dominant, which I’m intrigued to see. Robertson is a self-confessed sadist, and as a fellow member of the kink community I can’t wait to see how he works a BDSM-themed stand-up show.

Spoiler alert: sadly no one won the £1000. Maybe next time.




ARG Com Fest: Three Word Reviews


Being the good law-abidin’ God-fearin’ folk that we are over at the Howl Sanctuary, we don’t review previews/works in progress. Comics need a place to be able to fail, quietly and with dignity in front of a select bunch of people, then huddle in a corner for a few hours before re-emerging to have another go.

But this left us with a dilemma – how to cover the effervescent wonderment of the humbly-titled Actually Rather Good Comedy festival? We could not let this highlight of the comedy year pass without note.

So, we solved this problem by awarding each comic we saw a three-word review. The only word that was banned was ‘funny’; because we knew that with a lineup like this, ‘funny’ was a given.

Here’s our picks (in no particular order, and not everyone saw every show, hence there being more reviews for some performers than others).

Sofie Hagen: Crafted, clever, woke.

Nick Helm: Manic, insane, genius/Whirlwind cunt slinger

Rhys James: Sharp, witty, slick/Gamble, Ruffell, hair/slick t-shirt comedian

John Robins: Honest, brutal, existential/Affecting, expressive, perceptive/Hug needed – hilarious!/Peering round corner

Fern Brady: Incandescent, raw, inspirational/Fearless, confessional, Scottish/Brutally honest Scotch/Brave, giggly, brilliant

John Luke Roberts: Tears of joy!/Original, farcical, clever/Naked, very naked/Naked ‘allo ‘allo

Spencer Jones: Whimsical, imaginative, creative/Just delightfully brilliant!/Tennis, singing robot/Surreal sublime vibrations

Mark Watson: As ever, delightful

Suzi Ruffell: Just so good!/Relatably working class

Nish Kumar: Couldn’t get in!

Rose Matafeo: Sassy, manic, outside/Alarms? What alarms!/Unshakeable sassy character

Ben Targét: Games, shaved, messy

Lou Sanders: Shameless, joyful, baptism

Jordan Brookes: Delayed by fire

Tom Neenan: Quality Attenborough homage/Attenborough seeks bigfoot

Garrett Millerick: Angry with Essex

Mae Martin: Bette Midler addiction

Joe Lycett: Coin or groin

Bec Hill: Roder, tou, fo

Michael Legge: Eventually good show/Musical high kicks

Robin Ince: Eventually stopped show/Shouty, disorganised, erudite/Loves a tangent

Angela Barnes: Apocalypse loving childless

David Trent: Angry at trivia/Didn’t play guitar

Joel Dommett: Bird flu famous/comfortable on table

Joel Dommett
Photo: Andy McHaffie

Colin Hoult: Anna ‘mazing Mann/Actress, comedienne, barber

Ingrid Oliver: Cleverly written sketches

Sara Pascoe: Handling breakup better!

Eleanor Morton: Raven sized argument

Stuart Laws: Forgets cream buns/Nandad, Belgian, foyer?

Rachel Parris: Inspirational, uplifting, silly

Bethany Black: Allergic to titanium

Grainne Maguire: Irish, soul, influence

Lucy Porter: Rude, name-check, argumentative

Ed Gamble: Metalhead, no, really!

And there you have it. An entire weekend’s comedy summed up in a series of tweet-friendly soundbites. Who says the world is dumbing down.

See you next year, ARG Com Fest!