Comedy nights at the Bramall on the University of Birmingham campus seem to be getting busier each month, and this is in part surely a result of the increasingly diverse nature of its lineups. The compère for last week’s event was Manchester comic Bethany Black; a performer with a subtle, untroubled confidence on stage that speaks for itself, without any need for an exaggeration of character to make up for underlying insecurities often present in the stand up business. I’m unsure as to whether she would be surprised to hear that she gives this impression, but Bethany has an incredibly cool and calm manner. She successfully balances sinister elements of narrative with a down-to-earth tone and her style of audience interaction is reassuringly laid back.
Bobby Mair, a previous Comedian of the Month on MoodyComedy, followed. Mair’s performance was surprisingly subdued, playing up to the persona of perhaps a vulnerable, oddly menacing child. Silences were more often utilised than shouting in this set, which is not an element of his performance I expected but gave his whole character a whole lot more substance and grit. With a host of near-one-liners, this comedian displayed a knack for making written material sound impulsive, whilst keeping an intriguing distance between his true self and the audience at all times throughout.
The final act of the evening was Zoe Lyons, a recognisable face from programmes including Mock The Week and Live At The Apollo. Her arrival at the Bramall was clearly well appreciated by those in attendance, with her accessible observations regarding the differences between cultures getting the biggest laughs. Lyons is very physically and vocally expressive in performance, indicating a lot about each person’s character and background through her depiction of their voice, and her impressions of various elements of British wildlife added an absurdist twist to her material.