Thanks to John Shaw in the front row for snapping these photos of the Socks sellout show last night at the Leicester Comedy Festival. You'll also find a short video clip he took, over on one of the Socks Facebook groups. And what an enjoyable show it was.
An incredible enthusiastic audience, who I guess we have to think of as a home crowd after nearly a decade of the Socks playing at the Leicester Comedy Festival every year since (gasp) 2006, gave a phenomenal response to the material from last year's And So Am I, which will now be staples of the touring show. Then we tried out a string of new pieces, some of which went very well, and some of which need some work, but all show great promise. If I may indulge myself with a few notes...
Right at the start we asked who'd seen the Socks before, and it was a resounding more-than-half. This meant I'm A Sock got a slightly more muted response than the chit-chat before it (which I would have called banter, had that word not achieved some inexplicable pariah status in the past year, for reasons I can't quite fathom).
The politics gags were hit after hit, then the first song was Song For UKIP which got its loudest reception yet, starting with a near standing ovation for the Nigel Farage costume. Noah went well, as did the Generalistion routine, the Baby In The Corner running gag, and the War On Terror song (see the burka costume, above). So after a very strong first half I gambled on the Minging Detectives material.
Audience ad libs on their fave TV Cop shows - v good
Dixon of Dock Green (not on Youtube) - okay, some good bits
Z Cars/Brian Blessed (not on Youtube) - brilliant. First guaranteed smash bit of material
Black & White Minstrels song (not on Youtube) - very good in parts, will benefit from editing
The Sweary - quite good, might improve
Hello Muddah - er, okay. This brought the room to a hushed silence. Too soon? The costume choice, which was the burka from War On Terror, wasn't good. And the fact that we'd already done a lot of dark material, and that this came amidst sketches which weren't as funny as the first half, meant there was no audible laughter for this song, though people came up afterwards and singled it out for praise. I'll keep trying it, but it's Marmite.
Danish crime drama (not on Youtube) - I think this might be going on Youtube soon and leaving the show, because most people, me included, found it difficult to follow. We certainly needed something much funnier to follow Hello Muddah.
Chelsea Tractor - Again, had this come amidst funnier material, it might have gone better. It hardly died, but after the laughter we'd been getting in the first half, these pieces were getting a mild reaction.
Ian Rankin - Not bad, though I was by now getting worried that we have too many jokes for old people. The audience responded that many of them did indeed remember The Beat and Ranking Roger, but frankly I think this will have to go just because of its demographic target audience.
We then brought the show back to comedy safeground by rounding up the Baby In The Corner running gag from And So Am I, with its musical climax, and closed the show with Sweary Poppins. We were, I am told, dangerously close to a standing ovation at the end. They were a wonderful and supportive crowd, which was just as well given the 20 minutes of variable new material that the hour included.
Behind-the-set selfie. No, they're not easy to take, now you ask.
But Minging Detectives has definitely found itself some good material to begin with, and I look forward to building on that over the coming months. At time of writing (midday Saturday) I've just written a brand new song for the show, which might get a Youtube outing in the coming week. Look out for anything with a Barry Manilow influence. Yes, still going for the youth vote.
The Socks will be debuting new material from Minging Detectives, and the best of their recent satire, on tour
Mar 13 & 14 Worcester Swan Theatre
Mar 20 Bury Met
Apr 1 Maesteg Town Hall
Apr 4 Rondo Bath Comedy Festival
Apr 18 Ropewalk Barton
Apr 24 Neath NRG Cafe
May 15 Exchange Keighley
May 22 & 24 Brighton Komedia
June 25 Cheltenham
July 17 Carriageworks Leeds
Aug 5 - 31 Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh Fringe