Situational Night Live! @ Cains Brewery, Liverpool
As I entered the brewery, it was deathly quiet and there didn’t seem to be a soul around for miles. I wondered if I was even in the right place as I wandered up the long pathway towards the building, however, when I stepped inside, I observed a small crowd of people who were gathered waiting to see the comedy show that had been scheduled for the evening.
Situational Night Live had been organised for the Liverpool Biennial and was being held in association with the Liverpool Comedy Festival. Its aim was to mix humour with critical thinking in order to consider how comedy can be used as a tool for engagement.
Three acts had been booked to perform on the night and the room began to buzz as more people turned up to watch, so that by the time the show was due to start, the place was packed to the rafters.
First up was Tessa Norton, a writer and artist based in London and West Yorkshire. The audience applauded her as she took the stage, then they fell silent and sat back to listen to what she had to say.
For the next ten or fifteen minutes, she read out an amusing monologue called Children are the Shock Troops of Gentrification, which had been inspired by the Biennials Children’s episode.
At first, it was hard to keep up with her because her voice didn’t carry well over the microphone, but once the sound settled down, every word could be heard echoing eerily around the building.
She spoke about children and their role amongst society, most of which was amusingly not very complimentary, and as it was obvious that she was heavily pregnant. Tessa shared her thoughts about bringing a child into the world, stating many reasons why she wanted to have it, which included the fact that her friend had one.
When she had finished her piece, the audience showed their appreciation towards her and the next performer, Tony Simpson, a stand-up comedian from Liverpool, took to the makeshift stage. He had based his act on a tour of the brewery that he had done and had blended it with other material that he could easily have used at a normal comedy club anywhere in the city.
The majority of people in the audience were originally from abroad and didn’t seem to understand his brand of localised comedy about copping off after a night out or the differences between places in Liverpool and London with the same name, so they weren’t sure whether to laugh or not. However, the comedian seemed aware of this and tried to make them feel more comfortable by interacting with them throughout his performance.
Tony was graciously applauded at the end of the act and the last person to perform, David Sherry from Glasgow, came on. Armed with a carrier bag full of ping pong balls, he proceeded to fire his arsenal into the audience at all angles and started chanting objectives that people might want out of life.
It was difficult to concentrate on exactly what he was saying due dodging all the flying projectiles that were coming over in every direction, however, once he had stated a goal, he would ask us the question ‘When do we want them?’ Then if someone shouted back ‘Now’, he would often contradict them.
This sketch seemed to go on forever and although it was a lot of fun, it was a relief when he eventually ran out of balls and moved on to the next one, which saw him cutting off his jumper. Then, with half of the jumper in each hand, he made two puppets and played with them before magically fusing it back together again.
At the end of his act, he picked up a guitar and sang a strange song that didn’t seem to make much sense, yet some people still seemed to find it quite funny. Once he’d finished singing, he asked for his balls back and was bombarded with them as the audience got their own back on him from his first sketch.
As with the other two acts, he was given a generous round of applause, then the show was over. Just over an hour had passed and the time had gone very quickly. It was now back out into the darkness that had recently descended over the brewery to reflect.
It was an evening which had been designed to explore the boundaries of comedy and with pregnant Tessa Norton musing over how children play a bad role in society, Tony Simpson testing people’s perceptions of humour, knowing that they originated from different country to him and David Sherry using organic objects to test an audience’s reaction, it had certainly done that.
Although the content was unusual and different from any other comedy show that I have been to, I did find it extremely entertaining and should the opportunity arise, I would definitely go again.