Comedy and Curry at The Watermans

Penny Flood finds George and all round good egg

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What could be a better way of setting yourself up to face a Monday morning than a good curry and enjoyable comedy show on a Sunday night? That’s what the Watermans in Brentford has been offering for some time, but as someone who finds many stand-up ‘comics’ tedious, I have waited for a headliner I knew I would like before I took the plunge.

This month’s headliner was Reginald D Hunter, who I think is one of the sharpest comedians on TV (in Have I Got News For You). I also like the Guru curries at the Watermans – warming, basic Bangla food with good veggie options. The night lived up to expectations. It is great value for money as the curry is only a fiver (including rice and a fine nan) and the show £10 (£8 concession, and a fiver for early bookers).

The show got off to a smooth start with chirpy compere Brian Higgins, who expertly settled the audience before introducing George Egg. I had been sceptical of the Watermans’ blurb that called Egg a ‘21st Century Tommy Cooper’. But I was surprised to find that he came closer than I thought possible to living up to this high claim. Being 21st Century means his language is much stronger than the great Tommy, but his child-like tricks and jokes were spot on (like pulling out what seemed like a large solid ball from the tiny case he brought on with him). His set was perfect for setting up the second half.

This started with Higgins making the most of the Good Egg vibrations by building on the riffs he had started with members of the audience in the first half. The fact that a teacher in the front row was told off earlier for putting his feet on the stage helped to get the happy mood going again, as he moved on to his hilarious parody of an ill-informed father talking about the birth of his first child.

Then came Hunter, ambling on stage dressed casually but warmly because, he said, he thought might have to perform in a windy Brentford pub. He is what that recently over-used term ‘edgy comedy’ should mean. He gets to the heart of political and the economic issues, as well as covering the usual stand-up topics of personal relationships and sex. But you never quite know which direction he is coming from as he confronts with sharp elegance and originality the prejudices and perceptions of the typical comedy club audience (anti-racism, feminism, etc) while also going for the expected right-wing targets with well-honed wit and relish.

As a black American, he said he keeps being asked for his views on the US Presidential election, but made fun of the idea that it was assumed he wanted to praise Obama. With a smile, he pointed out he is also the same height as the tallest candidate. And he said, he supported Obama for reasons other than his colour – like the prospect of Sarah Palin as Vice President.

One of his sharpest observations was based what he said was his father’s explanation of the economic crisis. The censored version is that someone he doesn’t know has their hands around his vital bits; and the person holding him tight has someone else’s hand clutching their vitals … and so on. ‘So when one person sneezes, the whole world feels the pain of having their ***** squeezed.’

Hunter’s set lasted at least an hour. He and the audience seemed ready to go on for longer, when the mike cut out and he said he had to end. Pity, but as with the Good Egg, it is a sign of success when the audience is left wanting more.

There was just one quibble: understaffing of the restaurant and bar, which led to the start of the show being delayed to allow everyone to get their drinks.

The next Comedy & Curry night is on 16 November. The headliner, Control Freak with Chris Cox, doesn’t appeal to me. But I will be looking out for an opportunity to enjoy another great night out in Brentford.

Penny Flood

November 6, 2008