Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Beware the Forbidden Fruit...Comedy and Cider....

“What do you do for a living then?”

ZZ Top’s crazed brother approaches the front line of spectators at the Magners Comedy Festival and points at the hapless squirming geezer next to me; the geezer says something about working for the UN. The bearded man is comedian Martin Mor, Northern Irish native, ex circus juggler and a mountain of a man who takes no prisoners at home or away. Mor elicits as many laughs from the crowd as he does fear, and it doesn’t matter if you’re working for the equality of human rights, peddling postcards on the streets of Bangkok or teaching English at an international school: he’ll cut you straight down to size if you’re, like me, sitting in the front row.   

The Show has sold out, and as every school boy knows; as you know, as I know; and as Martin Mor knows, the last place you want to sit at a comedy gig, is in the front row.

We are at the front. We are the low-hanging fruit.

We’re the cannon fodder, the human shield; we’re the proverbial lambs to the slaughter; we’re the turkeys shaking in Bernard Matthew’s garden shed on a frosty December night.

“What do youse do for a living then?”

Mor points a savaloy-sized digit at a couple who are out for the night as friends. Martin predicts that the male has devious desires for his female friend and the blushing begins. Man. He’s ripping them apart, piece by bloody piece; not me, please, please, please, get on with the show; don’t choose me.

The first act is introduced.  

Pic: ComedyCV

Intense, wax-mustached, friendly self-proclaimed potential Islamic terrorist (actually he’s a Columbian brought up in Windsor, UK) Matthew Giffen is almost bursting out of himself. Stance is important in this game, as is energy and Giffen, poised like a benevolent Doberman Pincher about to be freed from his lead, has both. If this lad had a tail he'd be wagging it. For a moment I wonder if there’s a reason Thailand don’t export energy beverage M150, but it’s just a fleeting thought as Giffens snarls merrily at the audience, keeping us all pleasantly in line throughout his set. Matthew is followed by local comic Aussie Matt Wharf who keeps the crowd amused with stories and gags of local interest and color; language difficulties, bar room blues and the third sex brandishing her concealed weapon.

Third on the bill is nothing short of a legend. Earl Okin hung out with the Beatles, recorded hit tunes for Twiggy. Earl Okin does musical comedy. I’m a big fan of musical comedy, my own formative music career, being, as anybody unfortunate enough to know will tell you, a bit of joke. Earl is also a ladies man, he uses his charm, talent and fine physical form to woe the entire female audience, and after his romantic web has been woven there’s not a dry seat nor eye, in the room.

Earl is show business, he’s the real deal, and he’s in Bangkok.  

The audience takes a break before Martin Mor returns to the stage and destroys my fellow front-rowers one by one. Now I understand, he’s waiting for me; he has something up his crafty circus sleeve for me, but instead he calls the Comedy Club manager and local lad Chris Wegoda to the stage.

Half Thai and half Londoner, one hundred percent showman, and collator of the event, Chris Wegoda takes the stage and delivers his routine questioning gender, race, and our preconceptions about life in the big bad mango. Following him, another local boy, lanky Irishman James Atkinson, rants about life in Bangkok and being tall in the land of the small.
Chris Wegoda and Drew McCreadie - Directors of the Comedy Club.

Headliner Lars Callieou has the audience in the palm of his hand for an extended top bill’s romp home. Pacing the stage purposefully and delivering the quips, the lines, the sly chat-ups, the confidence of his act, polished no doubt back in Canada where he hosts comedy shows, runs a club, and is a big hit on radio.

Most of the comics tonight are seasoned veterans of the scene, survivors of workingman’s clubs ball rooms, sweaty TV studios and pub back rooms. I’m impressed; all of the audience are impressed, and I’m reflecting on this when our big bearded friend returns to the stage and stares straight at me with menace.

Martin Mor smiles, he owns that stage, and he knows he’s let me off the hook on more than one occasion, so he makes a beeline to where I sit shakily at the front row.

He says it loud and clear. “So what do youse do for a living then?” he booms.

“I review comedy shows,” I squeak, nervously jostling, perhaps for invisibility, in my front row seat…      

.....find out more about the Comedy Club Bangkok HERE

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