Comedy Month - Review of the NATYs 2015

February 10, 2015

The NATYs promised to showcase the crème de la crème of new comedy for 2015, be it stand up, sketch, musical or straight up surreal humour. Thankfully, it definitely fulfilled that criteria. We settled in for an evening of brand new acts and instantly felt like we had stepped into a revered comedy institution, hosted by the brilliant Arthur Smith and attended by a gang of loyal NATY disciples.  

With much eye rolling, Smith noted cynically that, “Everyone’s a winner,” but it did actually feel like that. The audience got behind every act and the atmosphere was sparkling for a Sunday night.

It was pleasing to see that Jenny Collier led a strong representation of female comedians and delivered a charmingly smutty set. Her cutesy stage presence clashed brilliantly with her clever off-colour material.

Bald and bearded Chris Betts gets a mention for best deadpan performance and acerbic observations of London. His relaxed Canadian drawl was engaging and his performance would work particularly well for London-themed events with an international audience. 

The standout surreal act of the night was definitely Cheekykita. Combining song, dance and glittery stars her 5 minute set included a cosmic-lizard dance routine, crunching space dust down the mic and dressing up as a pretty convincing black hole. It's fair to say that Arthur Smith was completely lost for words, which doesn't happen often.

However in terms of quality clowning, Spencer Jones’ The Herbert character was exquisite - scampering around the stage in woollen tights, fake humpback and pudding-bowl haircut. The Herbert displayed ingenious mime and physical theatre, receiving the biggest laughs of the night and resulted in him placing as joint runner-up with the aforementioned Jenny Collier. Having previously been BAFTA nominated for Bad Babies, Spencer Jones is undoubtedly one to watch. 

Speaking of acts on our radar, it was great to see a Sternberg Clarke staple, Mikey Bharj, put in another brilliant performance of kooky characters and spot-on impressions. Also enjoyable was Francis Foster, who amused the audience with his tales of woe regarding the perils of teaching drama.

The competition was certainly tough however, with Michael Stranney’s alter-ego ‘Daniel Duffy’ just pipping Collier and The Herbert to the post as the 2015 NATYs ‘Top of the Bill’; throughout his set, we were regaled with tales of Duffy’s Irish home town in the most brilliantly dishevelled manner, conjuring vivid images of his equally eccentric friends and exploits. 

Duffy takes the crown from last year’s winner Alasdair Beckett-King who was a testament to how brilliant the NATYs are at discovering fantastic new talent.  I can’t wait to see Alasdair perform again after he rounded the evening off with a splendidly original chickpea-based set.

Despite the talents on display from the human contingent within the room, the real star of the show was Sid, a charming terrier who contentedly bounced a balloon on his nose for over ten minutes whilst the judges deliberated their decision - what variety show would be complete without ‘a bit with a dog’?
In truth though, this was a wonderful evening of entertainment, congratulations to Michael Stranney and we cannot wait for next year.

Top of the Bill: Michael Stranney’s ‘Daniel Duffy’

Joint second place: Spencer Jones’ The Herbert & Jenny Collier

Bronze medal: Francis Foster

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By Tilly Johnson