Its Just Jokes Comedy Show 26th May 2017

IMG_20170514_232344_752

It’s Just Jokes” Comedy Show is the brain child of dynamic duo Jimmy James Jones and Elroy Welsh. The event has been running in Milton Keynes for the last 8 months and features talented artists such as Judi Love, Sarah Callaghan, Will E and Toju on a monthly basis.

IMG_20170528_175203_638

I had attended part of the April show accidentally (as you do…don’t ask!) and really enjoyed it, so my friend Lara and I got in touch with Jimmy and asked if he’d like us to come along to the next show and write a little review. The May line up consisted of Toju and Aurie Styla, and we were assured it would be a great start to our Bank Holiday weekend.  The venue was a room at the top of the Slug and Lettuce pub, holding a reasonably sized audience (Friday head count was around 100), and Jimmy and Elroy had got all the bases covered for a quality evening – adequate seating, a DJ, bar access, lighting and sound equipment. I would have liked to see a small platform on ‘stage’ to give acts a little bit of precedence over the audience – although, that said, it’s lovely to be up close and personal at an intimate gig.

IMG_20170528_174222_881

The evening began with a warm up from the endearing Elroy, whose relaxing yet commanding tone got everyone in their seats and ready for some belly laughs. He was an extremely likeable words-master who built a buzz around the room, telling anecdotes from his daily life. To me Elroy comes across as very ‘real’, and you can tell his observational humour comes from the heart. Throughout the evening he did a fantastic job of keeping things running smoothly (Jimmy sometimes comperes as well but had stepped back for the evening).

IMG_20170528_174851_236

Act one was Aurie Styla, a stand up from London. I was struck by Aurie’s enormous smile, and relatable stories. He most certainly had me on board talking about the importance of not settling for someone if they don’t meet your requirements – I was like the Churchill nodding dog! It was refreshing to hear serious life topics spliced with some gentle teasing, and I could imagine having amazing banter with him over a large rum and coke. Aurie picked apart the world of female beauty and the pressure to look good – and the tricks men have no clue about that women use to achieve that Coca Cola shape!!! Thank you Aurie for your uplifting and naughty messages, I hope to catch you again on tour (I still won’t be buying a DVD though sorry!)

IMG_20170528_174323_565

After the first short break Elroy upped the ante with some audience games. We were treated to a “guess the song” game followed by a lip sync battle, which turned into a slightly bizarre dance off. It was clear to see how much Elroy enjoyed hosting this section, at times just standing back and laughing at the absolute carnage unravelling before him! There were some serious (optional) dance moves underway, and it was great to see people letting loose even though one guy’s wife was giving him abuse from the back of the room…

Act two was Toju, also known as “The Militant Black Guy” from Balls of Steel. His entrance was an amazingly camp tribute to BeyoncĂ© – not what I had expected at all. Just as I regained control of my hanging jaw the mood totally switched with a far more intense energy taking precedence, and Toju leaning right into the audience as he spoke. His humour was not only toeing the edge of the line, it was playing hop scotch and sticking two fingers up at it. Toju had the energy of Danny Dyer after a few cheeky lines mixed with the bite of a young pre-fight Tyson. He heckled the audience, but in a way that didn’t become offensive, although he still got down to some pretty blunt facts about keeping ladies happy in the bedroom (apparently my face was a picture!) I found Toju absolutely fascinating to watch and would love to know more about what he’s like offstage.

IMG_20170528_175024_555

“Its Just Jokes” is a young, fresh, vibrant and exciting night out, perfect for anyone who likes to laugh. Some of the acts are quite cheeky, so I add a word of caution to anyone thinking of bringing an easily offended companion! Although there is quite a heavy black community overtone, I didn’t feel out of place at all and think Jimmy and Elroy work hard to strike a balance so that there’s something for everyone. I loved that people turned up in their best Friday night outfits or trainers and trackies yet there was no judgement or attitude to be found. I don’t often go to comedy events, but “It’s Just Jokes” evenings emanate warmth, community spirit and pride in local, national and international comedy talent. On a serious note, in a society that has such a negative stereotype around young black men it was fantastic to see so much effort being put into something so inclusive and entertaining.

This show is my new diamond in the rough and I really look forward to seeing what the boys have in store during the remainder of 2017. Please do support Jimmy and Elroy by spreading the word and coming along to shows in coming months – they’re a perfect start to a night on the town or even a date night 😉

IMG_20170527_130906_532

You can find more information on

twitter

instagram

facebook

Gangsta Granny 17.5.2017 (Birmingham Stage Company)

GangstaGranny

“Ben is bored beyond belief after he is made to stay at his grandma’s house. She’s the boringest grandma ever: all she wants to do is play Scrabble and eat cabbage soup. But there are two things Ben doesn’t know about his grandma.

1) She was once an international jewel thief.
2) All her life, she has been plotting to steal the Crown Jewels, and now she needs Ben’s help


A hilarious and heartfelt story of old age, adventure, stolen jewels and swimming the Thames, and another Number One bestseller.”

From the off “Gangsta Granny” draws the audience in, with silly dance moves and multiple wafts of cabbagey fart. The set is fantastic in its versatility, reminiscent of a Rubik’s cube. Although I am a little old for this kind of show (and was possibly the only adult at the theatre not accompanied by a child..awkward!) I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it clearly went down well with the many giggling small people scattered around the theatre.

I have to point out Benedict Martin, who plays “Dad” and “Mr Parker”. He, quite simply put, is the cringiest, creepiest man I have seen in a long time! I found myself wincing at his Dad dance moves, and howling at his nosey neighbour antics. Sublimely weird and embarrassing. My other star this evening was Davesh Kishore, who plays “Raj” and “Flavio”. Two totally different characters, but both massively likeable in their own way. He brought a true comedy flavour and upbeat energy to the show, involving the audience and upping the tempo during the dance show section.

1479740975303_jpg--gangtsa_granny_gets_a_new_life_on_stage

Gangsta Granny keeps the audience engaged throughout its 2 hour run, and manages to remain dynamic without losing momentum. The leading lady Gilly Tompkins (Granny) and leading gent Ashley Cousins (Ben) are a believable double act (despite their differences in opinion around cabbage) and remind the audience that people aren’t “born old”. I found the show feel good without becoming sickly, and enjoyed the constant multi-sensory stimulation. Although there was some of the obvious Walliams silliness, the show relayed an important message about our behaviour towards elderly loved ones. Be prepared for laughter, farting, poo jokes and even an appearance from the Queen!

As usual, thanks so much Aylesbury Waterside Theatre for the tickets.

Gangsta Granny is on for the next few days, check out this link to get your tickets:

Gangsta Granny

King of Pop (The legend continues) 10.5.2017

“​This incredible production stars the world’s leading MJ tribute artist Navi who is joined by Michael Jackson’s iconic guitarist – Jennifer Batten. 

… Jennifer has teamed up with Navi for an unforgettable experience – taking fans closer than ever dreamed to an original MJ concert.”

Whenever I watch a show that has the word ‘tribute’ in its advert, I get a little nervous. Although it is 

“an act, statement, or gift that is intended to show gratitude, respect, or admiration”

rather than a carbon copy of the original, there’s enormous pressure in delivering a production associated with the name Michael Jackson. Love him, hate him, or whatever in between, you have to admit the guy was a phenomenal showman, and a true legend during his 50 years on earth. 

 

The show opens with the band taking their positions, as a video of Navi and Michael runs in the background. I found it a bit strange as it seemed to be trying to convince the viewer that this Navi guy is absolutely amazing and the closest link to the world of MJ.. Surely we would tell that from his performance and the show itself?!

 

I’m a bit of a cynical reviewer, and the first few songs didn’t see me swinging from the rafters. As usual with anything ‘tribute’ I was struggling to get into the groove – it’s a challenge for me to transcend beyond the literal! Just when I started thinking about my choice of interval beverage, a change in energy occurred. The delectable Jennifer Batten made her way on stage, reminding me that I too could have hung out with rock stars and travelled the globe. .. If only I had taken grade 4 violin and oboe more seriously!

The atmosphere switched, the audience got a little wild, and the riffs were spine tingling. I began to find my ‘tribute vibe’ , and although I wasn’t quite as enthusiastic as the MJ superfan to my left I began singing along, and indulging in some rhythmic clapping. My attention was piqued by one of the male dancers during the show, as he offered tightly choreographed moves alongside a killer smile! He gets my vote as a new member of the Dreamboys in 2017 that’s for sure.

 

Overall a great night for audiences of any age, but I was extremely disappointed that the earth song didn’t make the final cut!! Navi is amazing as an MJ lookalike, and has a crotch thrust to rival the late master himself. My only confusion was around the singing… Was he miming? I had anticipated live singing, but it seemed more like the band playing to a backing cd with Navi miming/singing alongside? (Again, here enters my ‘tribute’ *confusion..) Definitely a fantastic evening out for Michael Jackson fans, and despite my reservations I ended up warbling along shamelessly by the end. Thank you Aylesbury Waterside for a fantastic evening out!

 

Check out upcoming shows at the theatre using this link :

Aylesbury Waterside Theatre