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Review:
Wormhole Comedy @ Hold Fast, Manchester

Jordan Harrison-Twist

11.12.19

Hold Fast bar, Manchester's Northern Quarter. (Photo taken before the place filled up)

Sandbach is near Crewe, said one comedian to another. Oh, no. I don’t want to be in Sandbach while you get signed by some agent.

Recognition in this industry is not something one feels is obtained in parochial Northern towns, but these places are part of an extensive ecosystem which offers cool, modest venues for comedians, and surprisingly cheap prices for punters.

Just such an event: Wormhole Comedy in Manchester’s Northern Quarter is an intense affair, with two rows of benches surrounding three sides of a small stage — each within an arm’s reach of the hosts. Participation is encouraged (with rum), and perhaps inevitable given the intimate room; but the effervescent Evan Desmarais and laconic Cameron McLeod martial the evening with a light touch: engaging, goading, and exploding interactions when called upon.

It’s a new material night, so the edges occasionally show, and there is a roughness to the performances that brings about lots of in-the-moment self-reflection (the hostel upstairs provides some unaccommodating spectators); but the quality is bang-on, and the combination of great acts and bolthole venue makes for a captivating few hours on a solemn, sorry Monday night. The crowd were gender-balanced, international, and in mostly fine voice.

Particular highlights were Jamie Hutchinson and Simon Lomas — the latter’s hobbling delivery is a remarkable feat of nerve and he also deserves much credit for swiftly dispatching, without breaking character, an itinerant I-Thought-This-Was-Meant-To-Be-Funny guy who sounded like Christopher Eccleston in an egg.

The new material night runs every Monday at Hold Fast bar (below Hatters Hostel); the professional night runs every Wednesday at Wilson’s Social on the corner of Stevenson Square.

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