Thorner Review Thorner Comedy Festival

Joel Dommett performing at the Thorner Comedy Festival.
Joel Dommett performing at the Thorner Comedy Festival.

What a cracker Saturday’s show turned out to be.

While Friday’s performance might have lacked in belly laughs and incisive observation, these two ingredients were plentiful on Saturday.

Joel Dommett was MC for the evening and the packed audience quickly warmed to his easy, amiable style.

He’d the task of spotting likely audience members to participate later on in the show, and drew much mileage from a visitor from Sheffield – “the east midlands with hills”.

He was clearly bemused at finding himself in this rural backwater with no phone signal, but beguiled the crowd with his tales of flatmates, being mugged, and cycling exploits.

Joels’ good humoured approach and desire to please set a relaxed atmosphere that heightened the shock upon the arrival of brash and confrontational Nick Helm.

Styled as the Human Car Crash of Light Entertainment he certainly gave value for money with his unique and insane mix of repeated phrases, crazy one liners, self deprecating anecdotes, guitar accompanied songs and audience involvement.

When Nick claimed to go to nail bars to get hammered you could believe the man.

His attempt at a romantic song Cos it makes you look fat helped us understand why he was still single.

When it was time to target the audience, Dominique’s memory will be scarred by a poem read especially for her by Nick, and Paul will ensure he never gets a rhyming couplet wrong again.

Nick was rude, aggressive, at times downright miserable, but he achieved all of this with a twinkle in his eye and he produced huge gales of laughter from the audience.

There could not have been a sharper contrast with headliner of the night - Dubliner Andrew Maxwell.

He’s obviously no stranger to Yorkshire, has noticed that whispering is not a local trait, has the accent off pat, and used this to good effect in tales of previous visits to the area.

He’d never ventured as far as Thorner though – “two roundabouts away from areas of low life expectancy”.

And he confessed that this same audience might have gathered equally for Gardener’s Question Time.

He quickly warmed to the audience, and they to him, and he displayed an impressive ability to sense their reaction and adapt his content and delivery accordingly as his set developed.

In social and political commentary he was prepared to go where few would venture even in a one to one discussion.

As a result the Catholic Church came in for some stick, there were intriguing insights on Northern Irish sectarianism, gay marriage, immigration, atheism, and US attitudes to gun ownership.

But just as breaths were drawn wondering if Andrew was about to overstep the mark and offend sensibilities, he gently withdrew.

This year’s festival was the nineth fundraiser that has helped restore and refurbish this 90-year-old village hall, and made it an enviable venue.