Review – Priory Hotel Comedy Nights

Anna Hoyles went along to the June Comedy Night at Louth’s Priory Hotel. Here’s Anna’s report.

Intro to Comedy Nights at The Priory:

For the past two years the Priory Hotel has been bringing acts, of both national and international fame, to Louth to perform at its comedy nights. Following another packed gig on 9th June (see review below) it is set to make these performances monthly, starting in October, under the title Robyn Perkins and Friends.

The American Perkins, an English Comedian of the Year Finalist, has been MCing the Priory gigs from the beginning and many of the performers are friends she has met on her travels as a stand up. Paul Hugill, who runs the Priory, says Louth itself is a draw for the comedians. ‘They can come up here and chill in this pretty, little country town. Do a couple of days writing in the garden of the Priory and try out new material on the audiences here. It’s also an advertisement for Louth.’

The first comedian to perform in this new season will be Josh Howie, on 19th October. Howie has featured on Radio 4 and is the son of Lynne Franks, the inspiration for Edina in Absolutely Fabulous. An all women comedian night, which will include Harriet Dyer, is planned for November.

Prior to these events is Gig in the Garden on Sunday August 26th, when Robert Wyatt will introduce a day and evening of over 20 bands, exhibitions by artists, a silent disco, a tree bar and more. The Priory’s share from the proceeds will all go to support good causes, including providing NVQs, apprenticeships and some paid internships for people with physical challenges or severe disabilities.

June 2018 Comedy Night – Review:

While one can go some way to guaranteeing the quality of the acts, one can’t always account for the audience as the headliner of the Priory’s sixth comedy gig found out on 9th June.

‘This show’s gone weird…’ said Evan Desmarais, after being ceaselessly and mindlessly heckled by an individual who, together with his table companions, did not show the Louth audience at its finest. The Canadian, Desmarais, however, dealt with their almost surreal idiocy and/or drunkeness with a grace and lightness that bodes well for December, when he will be back as MC for the Priory’s Christmas Special Comedy night.’

At other times, before the interjections, Desmarais’ comedy threatened to sink to a level of being crude for the sake of it. None of the acts were the sort to watch together with one’s parents (not that one would necessarily want to, although there were two pairs of mother and sons in the audience – which did not go unnoticed by the stand-ups), but the other acts had a point to these jokes. Desmarais’ included asking teenage members of the audience if they had lost their virginity yet, and waiting for their response (as opposed to giving them a get-out opportunity). This was however interspersed with wittier episodes, such as a riff on his inability to say no to anyone and his resultant tattoo.

The MC Robyn Perkins also pointed out, as she closed the show, that it had not been a usual comedy night – although this did not dampen the, 60 strong, audience’s enthusiasm. Perkins has compèred many times at the Priory and she does so well, being a friendly as well as a witty, intelligent presence. One of her jokes spanned from the stress of ordering from all the different options at Subway to the crisis in Syria in one elegant arc. She also noted the inverse correlation between political tolerance and food tolerance – ‘ever heard of a gluten free racist?’

The first stand-up act of the night was Josh Jones, a well-deserved Chortle (the website guide to UK comedy) Student Award Finalist of 2016. His observations on football (sport not being his strong point, pretty much limited to why goalkeepers are clearly not straight) to bad boys (taking it to its logical extreme, ‘I’ve turned off grandma’s life support’) all from a gay perspective were worthy of headliner billing.

Ben Smith, an employee of the Priory followed Josh, showing a composure and wealth of material that belied the fact that it was only his second time on stage. Ben worked with his learning difficulties and bipolar (‘both an alibi and an excuse’) making jokes about the problems caused by them, but also moving beyond them, including one liners and slightly longer observations, such as on the idiosyncrasies of Snapchat.

Callum Oakley, who first performed his stand up on TV in 2012, as a very young semi-finalist on Britain’s Got Talent, gave a funny and full-packed set. This ranged from the heartbreak after splitting up with his feminist girlfriend, to what happened when someone grabbed the latter in a club, to his part Indian heritage (how he differentiates between his two nans or ‘naans’). He also had quick comebacks to audience interjections and managed to do a whole gig without picking on anyone in the crowd – which, at least in the row I was sitting, was seen to be a major plus.

The Priory is offering entrance to all their comedy events with an annual subscription of £30 – although membership of this Priority Club is limited and selling fast – otherwise ticket prices range between £5 and £12. See the Priory website and Facebook page for more details.

   The Priory Hotel on Facebook 

   The Priory Hotel Web Site 

   Robin Perkins Web Site

   Callum Oakley Web Site 

   Josh Jones Web Site

   Evan Desmarais Web Site