COMEDY: Felgate and friends tickle the Cellar Bar pink


MY VILLAGE is a good couple of miles from Devizes. I rambled home in darkness, trying to wipe the giggles off my face in case a passing car’s headlights caught my grinning glare and the driver took me for some kind of insane maniac; difficult to digest, I know.

You can always find a laugh or two on a night out in Devizes; they’re a comical bunch but it was such a barrel of laughs, I chuckled all the way back and probably won’t stop into next week. Homebound from the landmark Bear Hotel where, roughly once a month its cellar bar plays host to the Moonraker’s Comedy Club.

Middle-aged regulars with a sprinkling of slightly younger ones, who know a good thing when they see one, packed the dungeon and patiently waited. I, a novice to comedy clubbing, sipped my cider with anticipation.

The music faded, a willowy chap with ornate shirt leaped on stage and engaged the audience with hospitalities, then routinely taunted a few; my expectations had been satisfied. The host, Mark Hurman, continued subtle insult humour but turning his act to mostly observational, some blue, was his forte and boy, was he hilarious.

Hailing from Weston-Super-Mare, he threw a few gags about Banksy’s Dismaland then moved swiftly onto mocking Devizes; I can appreciate this.

With an appearance and style akin to Jo Brand, the first act, Jo D’Arcy, was dry, droll and very amusing. Anecdotes of her previous job school-teaching fused with sexual tales of woe and online dating nightmares flipped the audience into a frenzy of titters. She prompted the audience with ease and left us gagging for more.

Thomas Rackham was next to take to the cobblestoned stage, a young fellow from Birmingham, bringing us accounts of newly married life. Probably the cleanest of the set, Thomas had a refined style and polished timing.

He slid into drugs, clubbing and other contemporary subjects that may have not been to the older audience’s taste but I thought it was top-notch. He progressively improved until his time was up, far too early for me.

In a similar fashion the third act, Michael Dryburgh from Tamworth had an assortment of sickly tales which held out for the punchline. Involving parents in blue comedy always brings a stir. His sagas of pubescent adventures were nothing short of shockingly hilarious, his delivery acute. By this time my funny bone needed a break.

During this time I spoke to the man on the buttons as Martin Brown, the organiser hastily swept the cellar ensuring his loyal customers were comfortable and enjoying the show. He wore an expression of pride, a man devoted to this occasion and passionate about bringing Devizes a different evening of quality. I asked how often these events occur, being informed they try monthly with sporadic breaks.

I’m impressed, this was a good evening already, but I had not bargained for the headline act. A gawky, top-heavy hulk mounted the stage with one of those faces which makes you laugh before he’s even spoken. You know what I mean; Tommy Cooper and Eric Morecombe could do it, just stand motionless and make you cackle.

Mark Felgate had the whole kit, a natural ventriloquist, a surreal alternative character that could flip from deadpan to cringe to slapstick before you’ve time to take it in. Erupting cliché fart jokes and with one prop only, he bought the house down with a clowning and consummate blue material, sublime sense of humour and insane panache.

If my belly didn’t hurt enough he took up his guitar and continued to tickle the Cellar Bar pink with outrageously gorgeous songs. One song used his ventriloquism skills to do all the backing vocals with the theme of I can do all my own backing vocals, another being an unintentionally disturbing lullaby to a niece.

I sat myself near to a wooden support so if I made notes with my phone, the comedian would not pull me up thinking I had better things to be doing online. I was lucky not to have smashed my constantly nodding head on it as I doubled up with laughter.

What a blinding evening, I noticed only a few seats going spare; you should be sitting on one of them next month.

The Moonraker’s Comedy Club, Devizes:

DL 2

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I was born in the Fling Dynasty of a small planet known as Duncan in a galaxy far, far away. My humble parents, believing the planet was on the eve of destruction, sent me off as a baby in an egg-shaped craft and I landed here on planet Earth in the spring of 1973. I was later to discover through a cavern of ice, as you do, that the planet was fine all the time and it was just a particularly nasty prank by my father’s mates down the pub. I landed in a deep jungle and was raised by a company of wolves, learning to live as they did. Until one day when a naughty tiger with a very English accent came along and I was whisked away by a black panther and a jazz singing bear to a man-village. It wasn’t the tiger I was worried about; it was the American cartoon producer following on behind him. It was at the village that I won a golden ticket to visit a chocolate factory where I fell into a river made of chocolate and was sucked up a pipe into a fudge room; happy days. It could have been worse; I heard some other kid turned into an exploding blueberry. I lived at a coastal Inn for a while until an old sailor paid me a penny to look out for a legless seadog. In finding him I discovered a treasure map and was promptly whisked away by a sailor to a Caribbean island where I got into a bit of a rumble with some pirate radio DJ called Captain Tony Blackbeard. It was that or another holiday in Clacton. At eleven I was taken away by a man with an uncanny resemblance to actor and comedian Robbie Coltrane to a school for wizards where I had to battle it out with some bald blue bloke who killed my parents, said he was a lawyer working for an author called JK Rolling or something. That wasn’t as bad as the frog flavoured semolina we had to eat for school dinner. As I grew up and went to college I decided to give my favourite toys, a cowboy and a space ranger, away to a snotty girl from around the corner, nobody told me the cowboy was really Tom Hanks otherwise I would have given them away a lot sooner. So, other than the time I was bitten by a rare spider and found myself with special arachnid powers which I used to defeat an evil leprechaun, I left college and it was all very uneventful. Nowadays I have settled down to a family life and enjoy writing books, striving to be more like Bruce Bogtrotter every day. People say “where do you get your ideas from?” I tell them I have no idea, I've had such a boring, everyday life.



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