Hearing of ‘Stand Up And Slam’ through their lovely PR manager a few days prior to the event, I was quite intrigued as to how it would work. The brainchild of writer, actor and producer Lucy Danser and Canterbury Poet Laureate Dan Simpson, this event has been snowballing since the off gaining residencies at Camden Comedy Club and Brighton’s Komedia. Kicking off on Gardner Street at 8pm (doors at 7:30pm), I found a seat to the side of the room with my partner. Careful not to sit too far towards the front, as to not be the comedy team’s victim, we settled down to a glass of wine and looked forward to what was to come.
I’ll be honest here, despite being around comedy venues and knowing a few people on the circuit, I’ve never sat through an entire live set. I know it’s terrible. But it probably gives you an idea of my apprehension for what was to come. Opening the show, Rob Carter (of ‘Fresh Meat’ and ‘Peep Show’) jumped on stage seemingly out of nowhere. A whirlwind of energy and charisma, Carter warmed up the crowd with a series of self-deprecating gags. He introduced Lewis Buxton, a stand in host, as the captain of the poetry team. As expected, the poets seemed calmer than their comedic counterparts. Buxton explained the format of the show with a cheeky grin and warm presence.
We were in for two rounds: the battle and the takedown. Epic sounding with a tongue-in-cheek attitude, the show kicks off with the captains going toe to toe. This first bout, so to speak, got the audience going and a front-row attendee was chosen to be the independent adjudicator. It’s a shame that Carter didn’t realise she was an avid slam poetry fan!
Next up, Durham-born Sally Jenkinson took to the stage with a hilarious yet sombre (somehow) tale about her hometown. Beautifully written, and an emphasis on iambic pentameter, she set a high standard for the following acts. Carter welcomed Laura Lexx to the stage next for her turn. Leaving the crowd in stitches, Lexx recounted stories about marriage and how it changes a couple’s sex life. These two acts approached the stage with confidence and good humour. One thing that struck my partner and me was the hilarity of the poets and the poetic style of the comedians’ stories. The next two to battle were both local lads; Robin Lawley brought his comical awkwardness to his poetry readings, while Sean McLoughlin’s very different awkwardness shone through as his one liners and quips had the audience in stitches.
The take down round finishes off the show. The acts sit in their teams on-stage and essentially beast one another to varying degrees. In my opinion, the funniest part of the show, it gives audience members more of an in-sight to the strengths and weaknesses of the two art forms. I wanted to side with the poets as my English teacher would have wanted but I just couldn’t. The comedy team won and that’s how it should have been. Their unity was flawless and Carter’s sidesplitting song at the end of the set picked the poets to the post.
‘Stand Up And Slam’ has done the rounds of late and it’s clear to see why the likes of Edinburgh Fringe and Dave Leicester Comedy Festival, to name but a few, have hosted this fantastic show. The event’s website has a slogan of sorts and I’m glad I saw it before I went in, as an open mind is a valuable tool at this competitive event. It reads, ‘hate comedy? Find poets a bore? Leave your preconceptions at the door!’ And yes, they are aware that their slogan rhymes.