On Saturday evening we went out with some friends of ours to a Barnstormers comedy night at Solihull Arts Complex. Our friends had been to one recently where the famous comedian Jasper Carrott turned up unannounced; word had obviously got round because the room, although small, was packed.
No sign of Our Jasper on Saturday, sadly (he always has me helpless; at one of his concerts I quite literally stopped breathing, I was laughing so much). Instead we had a series of three comedians, interspersed with a genial compere. All three were good in different ways, but two appealed less - not just to me, but to Dave and our friends as well. They followed the route of standard stand-up: a 'chat' to the audience about events in their own lives, probably made-up and always tending towards bodily functions. One joke about poo can be funny but after a while it wears off and in the case of the first bloke on stage, I really didn't need to know that his Dad had phoned to tell him his mother had just shit herself. And the punchline? The mother grabbed the phone to say 'it was only a little bit'. Hmm. All very well but the only trouble is, it's not funny.
In between the two more ordinary acts, though, was one that stood out a mile. His name is Anthony J Brown and he's described as 'a dapper and dandy funeral director, ...with humour blacker than a raven that has slammed its claw in a coffin lid'. His jokes were different. His whole demeanour was different, since he sidled up to the microphone and began to fondle it in a distinctly erotic manner. He delivered his one-liners deadpan, in a voice that wasn't much above a whisper, so you found you were hanging on every word. And boy, was it worth it, because the punchline was always unexpected, often macabre, and very, very funny. He had the entire audience in stitches. I can't give away too much of his material, obviously (he'd probably chop me into little pieces and feed me to his pet microphone) but here's a tiny taster:
"I came into some money the other day."
"I'd run out of tissues."
[even longer pause]
"It halved the queue at the cashpoint."
At which point I stopped breathing again. I wouldn't mind if I never saw the other two comedians again, but I'll be looking out for Anthony J Brown on the local comedy circuits and I hope he makes a bigger name for himself than he already has. He deserves it.