I still can’t believe that last week was my first ever visit to the Manchester Comedy Store. I’ve pretty much lived in Manchester all my life and am a huge comedy fan. I’ve been highly recommended a night at the Comedy Store on numerous occasions. I suppose that this is partly due to how you never really fully appreciate the awesome venues on your own doorstep. Also, with comedy so many of us have our TV favourites who we will pay megabucks to go and see. We so often forget that there is a diverse and hilarious world of comedy outside of panel show contestants on Dave or E4 and so we miss out, hugely.
The Comedy Store is perfectly catered for a full night out of eating, drinking and laughing. The welcome at the bar feels warm and genuine. The restaurant overlooking the canal has a really great vibe to it, and this is bearing in mind that my visit was on a Thursday evening. Photographs of comedy legends lined the exposed brick walls. Balloons drifted above chatty tables where people were celebrating birthday parties. The food was very tasty and reasonably priced. I had a fishcake starter and a chicken tikka kebab main from the a la carte menu, which included a number of home comfort favourites. My hearty meal, washed down with a couple of cold pints set me up nicely for an evening of guffawing.
There is something unique about the atmosphere before a comedy gig, something that you can’t quite find even at a music gig. There is always plenty of anticipatory laughter and a sort of community feel that you get amongst true comedy fans. This is particularly true of the comedy store which has the feel of being built brick for brick out of the love of good comedy. Even the staff had a noticeable buzz about them, despite the fact that comedy must be to them what spreadsheets are to the rest of us. The venue itself was perfect. Small enough to feel intimate, yet large enough to accommodate a sizeable audience.
The host of the show was John Maloney who has a wonderful knack, not dissimilar to Jack Dee, of telling risque anecdotes with a completely straight face. His interaction back and forth with the audience had natural, easy going hilarity of a comedic dab hand. I was particularly amused by a story involving his stressed cat, which was made even more humorous by his dry delivery and dour tone of voice. The first comedian that Maloney introduced was was Pierre Hollins. Hollins has a confident and charming persona that resonated with the audience. His witty observational style and irreverent social commentary sent wave after wave of chuckles throughout the venue. Much like Maloney, Hollins has a clear, hard won professionalism matched by his evident lasting joy and enthusiasm for being on stage.
Brilliantly, The Comedy Store also prides itself on showcasing promising emerging talent in five minute slots, as a means of earning that all important comic apprenticeship. The two new Comedian’s were Cal Doughty and Bobby Murdock. Doughty is a thoroughly modern Comedian: self deprecating, whimsical and just a little bit dark. He is also super funny in that natural way that can’t easily be taught which he channels through a pedantic and witty persona. Murdock is from more traditional stock; down to earth, relatable and extremely likeable. He is a born storyteller with great audience rapport and on-the-dot comic timing. Both emerging Comedian’s shone and I’m sure it won’t be long before we are seeing plenty more from both of them.
The star of the night for me was Carey Marx, who was also the last Comedian on stage. This was a little bit of a dangerous choice as I was still shaking with little bursts of laughter on the tram home, which won me a few odd looks. Marx had me pinned helplessly to my chair with laughter at various times throughout his performance. If you like dark, slightly surreal humour delivered with a good deal of intelligence and a fair dose of smut, then Marx is the Comedian for you. The content of his performance was original and memorable. His delivery felt effortless.
Laughing fully from your whole stomach is possibly the best way to spend an evening. An evening at the Comedy Store is perfect for breaking the ice on that awkward first date. It’s a brilliant location for that alternative night out with your best friends or your work mates. I would thoroughly recommend an evening at the Comedy Store for anyone looking to expand their list of favourite Comedians.