This was the moment that comedy came to Nairn Book and Arts Festival. In the tried and tested versatile venue that is the Community Centre. There were a sizeable sprinkling of festival goers among the regular wildnighters this time round. Stephen Carlin discovered this with an ad hoc survey – a useful tool for
any comedian and the night’s MC used this information immediately in his interaction with the audience. He got the night warmed up with explorations of sexual tensions and potential wife-swapping parties in a seemingly sleepy town, He moved on to find out that there were quite a few Aberdonians in the audience and some gave as good as they got which added to the fun - the contract between comedian and punters, the mutual desire for a cracking night out, was well in play. Employment questions discovered a handsome funeral director and led onto the possibilities of women killing their husbands just for the chance of a moment or two alone with said individual. The Nairn folk, the Aberdonians and others from nearer and further afield (in fact worldwide) were by now in high spirits and beguiled with Stephen’s craic.
And so the intro of the mind reader, we were introduced to Doug Segal –a very funny man and a mind boggling performer. Just how do you get six people to stand up and randomly shout a lottery number and then after asking a member of
the audience to verify that the sealed envelope in your pocket is indeed sealed and when opened contains the lottery numbers that were shouted out beforehand? More amazingly the numbers were on a ticket that Doug claimed to have bought in Nairn earlier that day. There followed other mind reading tricks interspersed with jokes that continued to lift the audience. It’s one thing being a mind reader but quite another getting a girl from the audience and turning her into a mind reader too. Not bad for £15 - you go home a mind-reader. So in tandem with being amazed you find yourself laughing at a mind reader’s jokes. This was a new experience for this observer and the night’s show was already in the realm of the sensational with the headline act still to come. Doug more or less admitted it was all trickery and joked that he had learnt how to deceive and convince etc, etc during his time in the advertising trade. What if he is a real mind-reader? Is that local business man really fiddling his taxes?
After the interval Stephen became more philosophical, more cultural perhaps out of respect for the Book and Arters? He even moved into the realm of science telling us that there was less water in beer than in the human body in terms of percentages. He elaborated on this and other points and took us further and further into the territory of full on laughter. Comedy for the cultured masses or massed cultured comedy - whatever it was it had mass too, critical mass.
Then onto the stage came the headliner, Paul Tonkinson, back for a second bite of the Nairn cherry and stealing the show again with his fast tempo of gags, it was to be a conveyor belt of laughter with the self confessed “professional northerner”. As well as a wee blether here and there with folk in the hall he followed up on a few leads already exploited by Stephen Carlin, notably in the direction of the funeral direction business. A lorry load of self-depreciation from
Stephen, notably when he mentioned his Yorkshire background. Full marks here for taking the piss out of himself, a masterclass, it was top notch stuff just like his intrusion in the referendum; Initially the audience didn’t seem to want to go there but he made a good job of it. Nairn’s very own YouTube hit Nigel (#Highlander) got a mention. It may have been just what was needed as the Independence Referendum dominates the headlines and the social media then the perfect antidote for an overdose is to go and have a few drinks and listen to a superb comedian take the piss out of it all with his outrageous perspective. And outrageous he continued but within the night’s boundaries perhaps, the really good comedians just sense the limits and take you there. These guys were all good, very good. It was the best Wildnight show in Nairn yet and I hope we see all these three back again at some time in the future. First class comedians and a first class night out.
|Having a wild night in the Community Centre last Saturday|