October 05, 2008

The Reckless Moment Comedy Returns Monday Oct 5th Leamington

I realise that I’ve never actually written about The Reckless Moment here before.

Put simply it’s Leamington Spa’s undisputed best Monday-night comedy club. Basic info: £2 to get in, doors open 8.30pm, show starts around 9pm. Goes on to some time between 11pm and midnight.
There’s generally somewhere between 5 and 10 acts on, generally new acts or older acts trying new material with the headliner being an established circuit comic.
It all happens downstairs in Robbins Well in Leamington, at the south end of The Parade.

It’s been going for over two years now, running during university term times in blocks of 8 or 9 weeks and is one of Leamington’s best kept secrets, except for when it’s being publicised in order to get a crowd. Like now.
It’s run by Tom Hughes and Peter Falconer, the former MCing the night, the latter running the technical side and providing bizarre interludes. It has a healthy stable of regulars that try out practically all their new stuff there, including this years Eddie’s Best Newcomer winner Sarah Millican who I must have seen perform there about ten times over these past few years. It’s also attracted some big names such as Richard Herring, Tony Law, Robin Ince, Jim Jefrries, Josie Long, Pappy’s Fun Club and far more than I can remember.

Way back when it started I was promoting a comedy night at Warwick Uni and running the Comedy Society there, and Tom had asked me what I thought about the idea of running a weekly new acts night in Leamington. Honestly I thought he was crazy. I’d seen how tough it was and the sort of promotion it needed to get people into a regular comedy night at the university, how brilliant nights like Spa-Tickles Leamington would often struggle to get more than twenty or so people in with big circuit names. Really, what hope would a night have of pulling in a crowd if it featured raw, work-in-progress acts that could often be disastrously unfunny.

I didn’t tell Tom this of course. I told him it was a good idea and he should try as it wasn’t my neck on the line this time around and at least we’d get a couple of fun gigs and somewhere else to take Comedy Soc socials for a few weeks until it collapsed into financial unviability.

And the first few shows really did just feature a lot of messing about. Tom was MCing for the first time in his life, no-one had heard of any of the acts (some were quite good, some not-so-much), Pete would go up on stage and eat meat accompanied by 50s Jazz and the whole thing was deeply unprofessional fun.
What was odd, was that people kept coming back. And they bought their friends. Before we knew it, the room was getting full, people were standing at the back, and, most strangely of all, people were really into the whole meat-eating thing. Perhaps the master-stroke was only charging £1 to get in, it certainly made it easier for me to convince Com Soc members to come along for socials. After all, at that price even if you only see one good act it’s worth it. Though the hit-rate for the night is far better than that. These days you’re unlikely to have more than one stinker and most nights there won’t be any.

That’s not to say everyone’s brilliant. I’ve seen some truly awful comedy there in my time. Hell, I’ve performed some truly awful comedy to near-silence there in my time. I’ve also seen some truly brilliant stuff there and against all expectations once had a truly brilliant gig there. Apparently World of Warcraft material really works well in Leamington. It remains to this day the only gig I’ve ever had the guts to go and perform at.

There have been some truly wonderful moments there, such as Paul Foot reducing a room to tears of laughter and Pappy’s Fun Club making me like sketch comedy for a bit. There have been some disasters too, notably the time an American woman came on, was unfunny for 20 minutes then took her clothes off. We don’t tend to talk about that.

For the past two years I’ve been travelling down from Wolverhampton and later Cannock to around half the shows, a ninety-minute trip necessitating on sleeping on Tom and Pete’s sofa. It was worth it, but one of the best things about moving back to Leamington will be having it a ten minute walk away instead, and no need to miss any at all.

So if you’re in Leamington, come along this monday, it’s now £2 to get in (inflation and all that) but the quality of the acts has also gone up proportionally, and there’s a proper PA now. It’s almost like a proper professional comedy gig, except the MC hands out biscuits and everyone can’t help but not take it entirely seriously.


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