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Scoundrels Comedy Club, Winchester Railway
FAST becoming one of the south’s leading comedy nights, Scoundrels enhanced its burgeoning reputation with an impressively diverse line-up for its monthly slot in Winchester.
Canadian compere Katherine Ryan is forced to quickly reassess the local crowd’s level when her opening gambits about Geordie Shore are greeted largely with muted bemusement.
But navigating into the safer waters of babies and motherhood, she soon proves herself to be a genial host, drawing plentiful mileage from the front row as any good link act should.
In contrast, Welshman Elis James immediately ingratiates himself with the home audience with a barrage of Winchester facts.
“Fans of Wikipedia-based comedy should stick around,” he insists.
James’s confused, skittish stories are skilfully constructed and his tales of boring wedding guests and early September carol singing are from the top drawer.
Yasmin Akram starts with promising gusto, though her mum would probably beg to differ given the abuse she takes (to hilarious comic effect, admittedly).
But a skit based on the myriad ways she tries to sleep with the man of her dreams loses momentum and only the continual mum-baiting saves the day.
Gallic lothario Marcel Lucont has no interest in trying to impress anyone, however.
Nothing – not the setting, not the crowd and certainly not the English – escapes the withering wit of the sneering, aloof, sex-crazed Frenchman.
It’s a brilliantly unique and refreshing act, culminating in a very French take on some classic English jokes (“What’s black and white and red all over? A hideously overcooked steak covered in ketchup.”) It’s headliner Simon Evans who really steals the crowd’s affections, though, with his grumpy middle-class right-wing shtick.
The usual targets are shot down – the working class, the overweight, the Welsh – but it’s all done knowingly and intelligently enough to raise belly laughs across the room.
Another winning night from Scoundrels, which looks set to go from strength to strength with a headline slot from Peep Show’s Isy Suttie in May.