Review: Laughing Pod Comedy at The Oakwood Hotel, by Coral Brown

Kerry Godliman The Laughing Pod WOW Kent

The Laughing Pod hosts a variety of comedy nights across the South East and has a monthly* gig at the Oakwood House Hotel in Maidstone, where you can check out both professional and celebrity comedians do what they do best.

On 2nd July, WOW Contributor Coral Brown attended to check out their star-studded line-up and ended up discovering some brilliant new acts.

The swanky Oakwood House Hotel is the newest of the Laughing Pod venues, and it’s complete with gravel and massive doors and real non-plastic plants, which are all the signs of affluence in my book! 

The lively Christian Steel was our host for the evening, a Geordie brimming with both wit and energy. His interactions were tinted with the same charming playfulness characteristic of old gameshow hosts, insulting audience members with a twinkle in his eye. The imagery in his material was confidently crude, but somewhat surprisingly, the audience was so receptive that he accelerated to hardcore indecency before too long! This sterling entertainer also showed off his professionalism when he filled in time for one of the acts who was running late without breaking a sweat. A first class compère.

Paul T. Eyres followed as the opening act, a well-established name on the professional circuit in London, delivering bona fide straight stand-up. His act was teeming with solid gags about relationships and becoming a father, provoking showers of laughter. At points the audience seemed slow on the uptake, but it’s natural law that this will always be the case for the first act. He’s performed hundreds of gigs on an international scale, so a quiet audience is no match for his slickly assured stage presence.

Next up was Phil Cooper, a friendly, beardy Welshman who scores high on the likability front. A sharp routine on small talk with the autistic child he cares for is vividly realised, with his physical performance glinting with expert nuance and clean timing. I’m sure that someone this breezy and competent on stage is headed for the bright lights of showbiz.

Another of the newer acts on the bill was Sean Patrick. He opened with a brilliant gag that snapped with elasticity, instantly framing his on-stage persona as a self-confessed stiff. The quality of writing was off the scale, with creative punchlines popping up from all manner of unexpected places. His question and answer routine with the audience is reminiscent of the nonsense of Vic & Bob’s ‘Shooting Stars’, and it sparked surround sound laughter to match. Certainly one to watch, if I may use such cliché review terms.

Next up, co-headliner Kerry Godliman, from Ricky Gervais’ ‘Derek‘, had me cackling the whole way through. This is the crème de la crème of observational comedy, both relatable and clever, working with broadly familiar subjects but manipulating them into fresh jokes. She’s sharp as nails, she is. There’s an upfront realism to her material, but it’s subtly underpinned by important issues like consumerism and feminism, without being in your face. Speaking of faces, she had a wicked line about how she was wearing so much make up that her face was actually slightly further away from us than it seemed. I recommend that everyone ever (who currently lives in the North Kent area) should attend her next gig, wherever it is (as long as it’s within the North Kent area).

Second headliner Toju, Ant & Dec’s golden buzzer act in last year’s ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ closed the show. He strove confidently into the crowd, projecting to the room from amongst the tables, microphone-free. Everything about Toju was unswerving and direct, and he tackled the issue of race head-first, noting how there was only one other black guy in the room. The audience wasn’t relaxed enough to come on board straight away, but there was a hilariously bizarre moment when someone mistakenly identified themselves as “the other black guy”, and that helped loosen everyone up.  His act is brimming with hard-won crowd work skills, and this performance jolted everyone awake at the end of a warm evening like a cold shower.

The only small issue for the evening was that the room clearly wasn’t built for stand-up comedy. As a result, there were a few inescapable teething problems with the set-up of the room and feedback from the microphone, but hey, life’s not perfect. The staff still did a stellar job working with what they had, and table service is always a fabulous idea in any situation, forever and ever amen.

Each of these acts manipulated the energy in the room in very different ways, so hats off to the booker. A wonderful night was had.

~

The next Laughing Pod gig at the Oakwood House Hotel is on Thursday 3rd September, with the razor sharp Jo Caulfield headlining, as seen on Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Mock the Week and Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, don’t you know.

*There is no Laughing Pod event at Oakwood House Hotel during August due to the Edinburgh Festival.