Review: Christmas chuckles at Taunton comedy festival

This is The West Country: COLIN Manford on stage. COLIN Manford on stage.

THERE were plenty of Christmas chuckles at Somerset County Cricket Club last night as a festive line-up of comedians turned out to raise money for St Margaret’s Hospice.

Kicking off the chortles was compere Gary Colman, from the North-East, who kept the crowd on their toes and also poked fun at fellow Geordie and County Gazette reporter Michael Marsh.

The London Comedy Store graduate helped to manage the three-piece show, which saw Australian Yianni Agisilaou go on stage first, followed by a middle section of Dave Chawner and Rob Hughes, with headline act Colin Manford ending the show.

Up first was Perrier Award nominee Yianni, who couldn’t resist a mention of his national side’s exploits in the current Ashes cricket series.

The crowd took their time to warm to Yianni but he finished with all 260 people in the palm of his hand as he joked about the differences between how men and women react in the bedroom and delivered some witty put-downs to anyone brave enough to heckle.

 This is The West Country:

Dave Chawner had sharp wit along with good material but struggled to strike a relationship with the crowd, meaning his big punch liners didn’t receive the response they deserved.

Rob Hughes followed Dave in the middle sector of the show and, as a big fan of one-liners, produced some of the funniest jokes all night.

He kept the crowd under control, despite hecklers from some of the audience to disrupt his rhythm, with his stage presence and struck the perfect balance between expertly crafted puns and observational comedy.

Finally, headliner Colin Manford, whose brother Jason Manford bought his train ticket to Taunton for the event, pushed the audience to its limit of cringe with his tales of family life and his student days.

This is The West Country:

One of Colin’s jokes produced such an intake of breath it almost swallowed him off the stage and he found the right mix to keep the crowd guessing what is coming next.

Overall, a great night of Christmas cheer for a great cause with names on stage to watch out for in the future.

All photos: Clayton Jane Photography

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