It wasn’t, as James Sherwood observed more than once, the largest audience he’d ever played to.
But in the close confines of The Spring cafe area, he provoked a laudably-loud lot of laughs at the Havant Comedy Club’s festive fundraiser.
Sherwood played his audience with delightful deftness, firing out witty ripostes as in turn he interrogated a primary school teacher, a neuro surgeon, a humble gardener and a man who did something never-quite-specified with ships.
The evening was hardly riotous, but the trademark ‘Schushhh!’ with which he reacted to occasional outbreaks of raucousness only endeared him more to his audience.
Much of his act involves tickling the ivories, which he does with musical aplomb as he uses his keyboard to deliver musical gags.
I for one will never again enjoy quite so much Paul Simon’s 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover knowing that Sherwood has worked out that only five or so methods are actually referenced in the song.
The Peckham funny man rounded off a largely enjoyable evening at The Spring, in which Aidan Goatley had earlier entertained us with a machine-gun delivery of gags, stories, and anecdotes of the angst of having a 10-year-old daughter.
The show was opened by Jess Fostekew, who is well worth looking up whenever she’s in these parts.
Occasionally coquettish and invariably wry in her delivery, she left a indelible impression in the mind of Morecambe guest houses and the scanning area at Zurich Airport.
And due to the need to hot foot it to her next gig, her exit was flamboyantly memorable, dashing off stage and grabbing her coat and bag, hurtling through the door with a fleeting wave farewell, and probably in her car and half way down East Street before the applause died.
Talking of vehicular transport, I take no pleasure in saying that for me Sam Shafer’s act was little short of a car crash. Surely he has had, and will again have, better nights than this.
He seemed to be struggling anyway to engage his audience when, perhaps out of desperation, he decided to use out-of-the-blue the crudest of obscenities to describe parents.
Came back not a laugh - only a few gasps and the dull thud of lead balloon hitting floor.
Wrong place and wrong crowd, I’m afraid to say.