Friday 29th July was a poignant day for Worksop’s comedy lovers, as the town’s much-loved Last Laugh Comedy Club closed its doors for the last time.
The club has played host to many fine acts over the past four years, but sadly audiences have dwindled in the economic downturn which has affected so many local venues.
Nevertheless, fans at the Regal were treated to a rip-roaring send off courtesy of four exceptional performers, including two exclusive previews destined for the Edinburgh Festival.
Opening act Damion Larkin’s lugubrious musings and low-key philosophical manner belie a razor sharp mind.
By contrast, headliner Andrew Lawrence is a tightly coiled spring of paranoid quirkiness.
Lawrence’s performance is a stunning hour-long exhibition of supreme showmanship which has led to much critical acclaim.
Little wonder that the Guardian called him “potentially the defining stand-up comic of his generation”.
But the real revelation came from a couple of up-and-coming young comedians, fresh from the Manchester circuit.
Fern Brady is a joy to behold. An effervescent bundle of raw comedic energy, wrapped up inside a tiny Scottish whirlwind.
She prowls the stage with a cocky celtic swagger, launching herself headlong into a routine about the Daily Mail’s misrepresentation of urban fox culture.
There is a charming sense of impishness about Miss Brady. One minute she’s talking about fluffy wee foxes and shaking her head so sweetly in mock innocence that you want to buy her a little bun and send her off to feed some ducks.
The next she’s giving an impromptu Arts and Crafts demonstration that can best be described as ‘not suitable for Blue Peter’.
For a performer still in her early 20s, Brady seems remarkably in control of her stagecraft, and on the strength of this performance, it is surely just a matter of time before mainstream success comes knocking. Freddy Quinne too is an immediately likeable chap - relaxed and good natured, the young Mancunian delivers an impeccable set, highlighting the discrepancy between the way the world SHOULD work and the way things play out in reality.
In Quinne’s mind, you should be able to instantly deflect potential assailants by quoting ‘Pulp Fiction’ at them. And why not? It works in the film – so why not in downtown Manchester?
Quinne is simply a great storyteller with immense potential as a popular entertainer and, like Miss Brady, his talent seems even more impressive given his youth.
If these exceptional young performers are representative of the future of comedy, then it’s all the more tragic that there is no longer a viable venue in Worksop where they can perform.
By Anton Gardinski