Buffalo is a fantastic comedy venue in Cardiff, and it’s their 4th birthday, so it’s time to celebrate. I attend on behalf of Cardiff University’s Quench Magazine. The room is cosy, every seat in close proximity to the stage, and the atmosphere is nice; there are lots of groups of friends loudly chatting before the show begins. Everything about this night so far looks promising. Robin Morgan is a regular at this comedy club, and tonight he compères the show. He appears alongside Jenny Collier, Archie Maddocks and Rhys James, who will be performing tried and tested material, as well as brand new material, in front of this good-natured Sunday night crowd.
Welsh stand up Robin is quite a delightful performer, with a cheeky twinkle in his eye and an unquestioning politeness and consideration of his audience. Somewhat Joe Lycett-esque in his onstage persona, Morgan is the calm captain of this ship. He confidently interacts with the crowd with a natural conversation style. There is no forced compèring here, as Robin has a genuine warmth about him, seeming interested and thrilled by his audience’s responses.
Throughout the evening Robin frequently references his fiancé and ten-month-old son, talking of his encounters with other mums at the baby classes (which he sometimes attends without his partner), who assume he must be gay. Although audiences may have heard this kind of material before, it’s Robin’s delivery that makes it something new. Perhaps it’s his personable nature (he’s open, sharing with us the name of his child and details about his family life), but there is certainly something about this comic that makes him feel like an already-established friend.
The first act Robin welcomes to the stage is Jenny Collier, the voice of match.com and a proudly Northern Welsh comic whose set also largely centres around themes of family and relationships. Collier is unassuming, friendly and not overbearing, with an innocence to her that she cleverly plays with by often contrasting her demeanour with ruder material, which the audience lap up. At times I found myself questioning the genuineness of some of the anecdotes shared. Though effortlessly able to make her audiences laugh with unexpected punchlines and side remarks, it sometimes felt as though there wasn’t enough confidence behind the narrative. There seemed to be a conflict in narrative, for example, as to whether Collier is single or in a relationship, although perhaps this was more due to underdeveloped ideas that will be tightened up in time.
After the first interval, it’s time for Archie Maddocks. Half Trinidadian, half Irish (his parents are Don Warrington and Mary Maddocks), Maddocks ascends the stage and announces: ‘welcome to your ethnic section for the evening!’. Archie has a really appealing way about him: he’s a confident performer but not too slick; sweet but no pushover. He chats to his audience as a collective with ease, seeming like nothing could possibly faze him, because he clearly knows his material is good. His analysis of Uber is a highlight for me, as well as his impression of a charging penguin he encountered on a recent work trip to South Africa (hilarious, but terrifying).
And finally, our headline act for the evening is Rhys James, who many would recognise from his increasingly frequent appearances on BBC Two’s Mock The Week. Rhys’ comedy, like most of what we have seen this evening, feels young and relatable (a lot of the audience are, of course, students). He has quite a brooding look about him whilst his material and delivery remain rather playful, which makes him an interesting character on stage, one that is quite hard to pin down. James is working through the beginnings of his new Edinburgh show and it certainly seems to be coming together nicely.
It’s clear that this comic knows how to construct a show, and, like the other performers tonight, he doesn’t shy away from personal family anecdotes. But the crux of this new show is more abstract, with references to raccoons on Japanese game shows, and the show even features a fable. The balance between longer form anecdotes and silly, overblown rants is interesting, and we can already see a narrative emerging. In the coming six months, I think this show will evolve into something very strong indeed.
So, the end of Rhys’ set signals the end of Buffalo’s fantastic 4th birthday celebrations. But luckily for us Cardiff residents, their regular comedy night will back on March 4th, with Lloyd Langford confirmed as a guest. You can buy your tickets for that here.