Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Bride of Spatula debut gig

In my last post I mentioned that I was heading to the debut show of comedy improvisation troupe called Bride of Spatula. I promised a bit of a write up, so here goes. This is my first review thingy so I'd be interested to know if you find this useful/pointless/entertaining etc!

Until yesterday morning I'd heard nothing of Bride of Spatula, but thanks to Dublin Event Guide, and the mild panic ensuing from needing something to do that evening, I found their Facebook page and heard about their first ever gig, happening in Against The Grain on Wexford St. 
I'm no stranger to comedy improvisation shows. I watched Whose Line is it Anyway as a teen, have seen the live show twice (one of which resulting in two nights drinking with the awesomeness that is Mr Phill Jupitus, but that's a different story) and have also seen the Monday night improvisation show in The International Bar. They're always good fun, it's not your general run of the mill comedy, it's a real hotch potch of themes and outbursts, but under it all is the real cleverness of a group of people, collectively and individually being able to be funny consistently, with no real prep or idea what's about to happen. It's incredible to watch. And if you've never been to an improvisation show, I'd highly recommend it.
And what better way to start than with a newly formed troupe?! Although Bride of Spatula maybe new in their formation, as Sean at Krank informed me, collectively they have a LOT of comedy circuit experience. I must admit when I decided to go to the gig I was slightly sceptical that it wouldn't be any good, that they wouldn't be funny. The Krank article helped allay that fear, and I certainly wasn't disappointed. I did think it slightly odd that the gig hadn't really been advertised (or not that I'd seen anyway), but I'll come to that later. 
The gig started at 9pm but we headed to the venue for 7.45pm to have a drink and a chat. The venue itself, Against the Grain, is lovely. Based at the bottom of Wexford Street it's penned as a Gastropub and gets some good food reviews from what I've seen on Menu Pages. I can't speak for that as we didn't eat, but I can say that they have a very very extensive and impressive beer menu. It prides itself on its selection of craft beers, including the Galway Bay range, alongside a serious amount of Belgian, German and other continental beers.
Now, I maybe a girl, and I may enjoy a Heineken every now and then. But my father is massive Belgian beer fan, and he has over 20 varieties of Belgian beer in his house at any one time. One of the reasons I love going home. "Fancy a drink love?" "Oh go on then. Surprise me, you know what I like". And he does, and he delivers every time. His love of the different varieties has rubbed off on me and I enjoy them when I can. Which is why The Porterhouse on Parliament Street is my favourite pub in Dublin. 
But, I digress slightly. The range at Against The Grain is not to be sniffed at. You won't find Heineken, Guinness, Bulmers or any of those stock 'favourites' on tap, but you will find delicious alternatives. And then there's the range of bottled beers, you'd be there all day choosing if you had the inclination. 
There's a nice relaxed atomosphere also, I honestly can't remember if there was music playing or not, my companion and I were so busy chatting that it didn't factor into my consciousness. 
At about 8pm a guy came round with a poster of the gig telling people it was taking place at 9pm upstairs and it was free. Now we were there to go to the gig, but I'd say most of the other people weren't. But it was a great idea for him to go round and let people know, especially as there was no other advertisement of the gig in the pub. 

We headed upstairs just before 9pm to a fairly small area with some tables set out and some stools at the side. We joined the 10 or so other people up there and sat on the sidelines. 
We were informed that the pieces of paper on the tables were for us to put quotes on, be it film, song, poem, fridge magnet etc. Just scribble something down as they'd be used later in the gig. We obliged and handed in our submissions. 

The gig started at 9 as advised and one of the troupe, Diane, was acting as MC and chatted with the audience to break down some barriers. One of the key things about improvisational comedy is audience participation. The whole act falls on its arse without a willing audience, so it's key to get them on side and interacting from the word go. Diane did well at this, but I felt for her as she asked where people were from and got no response. However, myself and my companion were vocal enough and I'd like to think we helped with the interaction. She introduced her fellow comedians; Declan, Maria, Brian and Conor. She gave a bit of background to the group in that this was their first gig and we as the audience were all very welcome, she explained some key concepts, e.g shouting "DIE!" when someone stumbles over a sentence etc, and the gig started. 

As much as improvisational comedy is different in every gig you go to (purely by the nature of how it's done), there are a certain number of 'skits' that you'll see used a commonality theme across different gigs. These are stock favourites that are almost guaranteed to deliver laughs and randomness. Last night was no different, but again, purely by the nature of how these shows are done, every single skit is different, and even if a theme comes up twice in one evening (which is rare), it'll be treated totally differently the second or third time round. 

Our audience were a little cagey at first but soon opened up and were interacting well, which must have been a relief for the guys on stage. 
The 5 guys held an interesting dynamic, because even though as the Krank article highlights, they're all individually experienced in various comedy circuits, I'd hazard a guess and say that they hadn't worked together as 5some much before. Not because they were rubbish, but because at certain points one genuinely didn't seem to know where the other would take the item, which is always interesting to see. I've seen improv gigs with people who've worked together lots before and I've seen ones where the combination of people is totally new. I think this was a mixture of the two. But, they were obviously comfortable working together and there was a great dynamic between them, which fed out to us guys watching in the audience. 

During the interval one of the guys (Chris) who was part of the troupe but not performing that night, came up to us for a chat. He remembered I was the "girl from Leeds" and managed to convince me for a few mins that he was also from Yorkshire, before lapsing into his own accent. He was interested to see what we thought of the gig and where we'd heard about it. I commented on the lack of advertising and he admitted that the venue itself hadn't put any of the posters they'd provided up, so they'd got their audience pretty much through the Facebook page and from the few write ups of people knowing the formation etc. He told us their background in that most of them were from Ha'Penny Laughs and that they were trying to get their own gigs going now, rather than sharing stage time with stand ups (with no offence to stand ups, but everyone wants their own stage time!). It was a nice touch for him to come over and interact and added a real personality to the evening, we felt appreciated as an audience anyway but even more so after that. 

The gig itself ran to nearly two hours, with a 15 min interval. It was just the right length of time and I laughed lots, and lots. At some points I laughed when no-one else did, but then that's my sense of humour! And although the gig was free, we were invited to make a donation of how ever much we wanted if we felt the gig warranted it. There was no pressure for a donation, but as Diane pointed out, any donations would help them with printing fliers and getting themselves 'out there' to deliver more awesome comedy. We did, of course, make a donation. I'd cried laughing, the least I could do was show my appreciation!

We signed up for their mailing list and I've liked them on Facebook. As far as I can tell the next gig is on Sept 18th in Phibsborough (but do not take my word for this, check their Facebook page out yourself!). Not entirely sure I can make that, but I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for other gigs & movements of Bride of Spatula. 

I'd recommend anyone to go and see them, they're fun, incredibly clever and have the great ability to make a room full of strangers laugh a lot, which, lets face it is pretty bloody crucial for a comedy gig. I only hope they go from strength and strength and get the following they deserve. 

Thanks for reading folks, any feedback is most welcome!

Much love. 


Aisling McCabe said...

I SO want to go to this now. Thanks for the review, really enjoyed it and a great way of sharing what's going on around the place. Keep 'em coming! x

dontlikeberries said...

Thanks very much! I reckon you'd love improv comedy! x