Farewells are becoming ever more frequent so, yes, it’s now officially a recurring thread. The latest sad addition is the UK’s longest running comedy club outside of London, Chorlton-cum-Hardy’s Buzz Club, a victim (as I’ve mentioned previously) of the dodgiest of twenty-first century practices: Internet dating.
Of the three farewell gigs (Fifteenth Birthday, Best of and Last Night) Katharine and I opted for the Best of the Buzz on Agraman’s recommendation. John’s still making his living out of comedy and keeping the Buzz name. Over the years he’s built an impressive client list and will continue to programme nights all over the place. If you see a Buzz branded comedy night, go for it.
We were caught out on arrival (despite being ten minutes early) thanks to the doors opening half-an-hour early and struggled for a seat (I’ve never been to the Buzz on a night when seats haven’t been hard to come by). And while it may have been a ‘best of’, the tradition of giving a couple of new acts a chance was maintained. Sadly, they ain’t gonna make it and I’ve forgotten the names. But one of the things that made the Buzz special was the audience (more on this later), which always worked with the acts. So rather than heckle the first timers off the stage, we felt embarrassed on their behalf (especially for the story of the perfume salesgirl with bad breath).
Anyway. On to the professionals and an excellent one man cabaret act in the form of Tony Wallace and his bizarre blue box of props. And the musical theme continued with Ian Sainsbury who taught me something I’ve already forgotten about minor and major keys. Cult local man Hovis Presley, who we first saw the best part of a decade ago, then slowed things down with his poetry thing, before Canadian Phil Nichol (excuse the cliché) exploded onto the stage.
Overall it was an energetic, well programmed night. Phil Nichol took three encores which, without putting him down, were as much for the club as his performance. And again the audience came through; Phil invited a guy on the stage and he actually performed (as opposed to standing there feeling silly, as most victims do); during an encore he mentioned another guy’s likeness to the Proclaimers and was trumped by a passable Proclaimers impression.
When we first starting going to the Buzz in the early ’90s, comedy was hard to come by. Now there’s no shortage of pubs with regular nights and the big chains – Comedy Store and Jongleurs – are well established. But we’ll struggle to find anywhere to match the Buzz for quality of act or atmosphere. (And walking distance too!)
Internet dating not funny
Farewell Frasier……Farewell John Peel