After a slow start to the photographic week (a 10 minute photocall, after half an hour of crew pulling curtains to make them longer, most of the action being lit in orange and involving the dancers lying on the floor a lot) it got decidedly better, and funnier, with my now-regular trip to Harrogate to shoot Tom Taylor’s “Sitting Room” comedy club.

Tom Taylor, MC.

The bums-on-seats count exceeded even the opening night which, at 150 posteriors, was astonishing. At the last count, it was around 170 people this time, aged 15 to 87 again (yes, the same extremes reappeared. Already we have regulars!). And again, there were a lot of comedy virgins, judging by the looks of shock and sneaky grins (as if they were thinking “I’m finding this highly mirthsome but should I really be laughing at this? What if the vicar sees me?”) which may (or may not) have precipitated rather a lot of delightful swearing from Tony Burgess  in a “don’t mention the war” kindofaway. That’s my theory anyway.

Tony Burgess

Warmed up to the idea of the F word by the first interval, Carly ‘Charming But Filthy’ Smallman went one further and got away with the introduction of the C word! And incest! And lots of other fabulously funny stuff. She had the whole audience charmed. I shall definitely be following her career with interest – only two years in and already this darn good! You’re awesome, Carly!

Carly Smallman

Paul Foot had swollen numbers with his hardcore fans, or should I say Connoisseurs, who loved every minute of his surreal ramblings, as did the entire rest of the room, with the exception of one ‘man’ who made the mistake of telling Paul “you’re shit”. Paul then handled this lame heckle in such a truly masterful stylee which, in my 27 years of live comedy watching, I have never witnessed before. Dissecting this and subjecting the idiot to at least 5 minutes of extemporising on how comedy appreciation was subjective and therefore the statement could not be possibly be true, whilst having the rest of the audience in stitches, was pure comedy genius. I tip my hat to you, Sir Paul of Foot.

Paul Foot

In addition to photographing the show, I decided that it would be a great record of the club, from almost the beginning, if we could also make portraits of every comedian playing the club, in a Sitting Room Stylee. I wish I’d had the idea before the opening night, in July, but hey, there’s only so much kicking yourself you can do before you decide your shins hurt. Having hunted, fruitlessly, amongst Harrogate’s plethorous (is that a word? It is now) charity shops for sitting room-type props, I kept the set simple, dragging an armchair into the Green Room from the lobby and placing it in front of a picture. Wish I’d thought of that earlier too as I could have had a one hour reflexology treatment at the wonderful Chinese herbalist’s shop (Herbal Inn, Beulah Street – they don’t appear to have a website to link to) instead of the half hour I squeezed in! Oooh but my feet thanked me anyway.

Unfortunately, Tony Burgess left before I could put the proposal to him but Carly Smallman and Paul Foot were happy to pose in my portable studio and we had fun making the most of the minimal set.

Carly Smallman

Paul Foot

Job done, we retired to the bar for chatting, laughing, supping and sketching. Paul drew Tom, Carly drew Paul and I photographed them all drawing each other. Perhaps there’s another idea for Sitting Room…..a gallery of sketches from all the acts of all the other acts…..

Carly Smallman's Manga sketch of Paul Foot.

Oh, and in another first, Paul Foot was good enough to write a review of the show for the local press. (The reviewer who would have come was on a walking holiday in Scotland!) This could start a trend, the headline act writing their own review. Needless to say, it was very funny. Will link to any published versions in future posts.

The full gallery of September’s Sitting Room comedy night is on my website, www.janehobson.photoshelter.com.

Back in London yesterday, and straight off the train, I made my (short) way to The Place, where Daniel Proietto and Andrew Wale are appearing in “Avenida Corrientes“. Daniel had been generous and kind enough to invite me to photograph their dress rehearsal. What an utter delight! It is a beautiful, funny and moving piece of work, blending theatre and dance, in a fabulous space from a photographer’s (and audience’s) perspective. A decent sized stage, clear sight lines, and proximity to the performers that makes you feel even more involved in the action.

Last night is tonight so book quickly!

The full gallery of “Avenida Corrientes” is on my website, www.janehobson.photoshelter.com.

 

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