Just the Tonic’s comedy night returns for its second instalment at Leamington Spa’s Assembly. The whole affair is a smoother operation this time. There are no winding queues outside in the cold, and the revised seating arrangement provides a far more intimate setting. Despite there being less punters this month, the room feels fuller, with the rows of seats more central and the sides of the room blocked off.
Compere for the evening, London-born comic Tom Toal, is a natural. He works hard to generate an amiable atmosphere, chatting to individual audience members comfortably, without the stuntedness that can often come with crowd work. The snippets of material he scatters through the evening feel appropriate for the type of gig, and his ability to transition between heartwarming family anecdotes and sex gags is surprisingly refined.
Cheerfully self-deprecating, Simon Wozniak is a highlight. Each line of material is perfectly worded, with layers of outrageousness building in gradual increments. This is a comic who is confident with joke structure and can use his skills to present unpredictable punchlines which take the wind out of his audience.
But star of the show, perhaps rather shockingly considering the type of occasion, is absurdist live wire Paul Foot. Tantalisingly obscure, Foot has a kind of weirdness that is timeless. In fact, it’s refreshing to see just how well such a performer can do in front of a weekend club night crowd, as this is certainly not his usual scene.
With consistently unpredictable punchlines, quick gear changes and varied subject matter, it would be hard to find this buzzing housefly liveliness irritating. The opposite, in fact, is true. The predominantly innocent nature of the material makes Foot unexpectedly endearing. The charm comes in his sly looks out to the audience, the way he tosses his spaniel-like hair, the devious grin that follows his dead parakeet joke. Where his energy will take the room is unpredictable, and that’s the joy of this comic.
Just the Tonic returns to Leamington Spa’s Assembly next month, featuring Gary Delaney and Jonny Awsum. Tickets are available here.