Am just back from the JAM recording in Edinburgh, so a bit of a write-up while things are fresh in my mind.
The BBC has taken all its shows out of the Pleasance and to a big tent at Potterow. Inside the tent it was dark, with dry ice in the air, and the top of the tent was littered with little lights so it did look as if you were looking up at a starlit sky at night. (I mention this because Paul made a joke of it which the listeners won't really get.) The producer Tilusha Ghelani described it as the most camp venue they had had yet and it was a bit camp.
They were playing ads before like ay a movie theatre, including the JAM one. Marcus Brigstocke's line towards the end of that always makes me laugh.
Anyway for those who haven't been to a recording - it starts with a recorded announcement about emergency exits and turning mobiles off, voiced by Arthur Smith, who interestingly was in the audience at both recordings, and smoking like a fiend outside.
Then Tilusha comes out, repeats some of that, tells us when the show will be aired (August 22 and 29). She then introduces Nicholas who warms up the audience a bit with some jokes and chit-chat. He told us at the first one he had just been listening to the show on the radio and thought it was awfully good. So did I!
He then introduces the panellists who come on one by one. For the first show, the team, was Paul Merton, Gyles Brandreth, Alun Cochrane and Jason Byrne. For the second show it was Paul, Gyles, Shappi Khorsandi and Russell Kane.
Jason and Russell were both making their debuts and are both rising stars in stand-up. Both have popular shows here. (I am going to see Jason's later tonight and will now try and see Russell too.)
Anyway they test the mikes and buzzers and the show begins.
I am no good at remembering jokes and punchlines so just some impressions. Paul won the first show but wasn't ultra competitive. He always has a look on his face as if he's a bit worried about what is being said, a slightly grumpy but puzzled look. He remains a master of the game and could bring the house down any time he wanted with a witty line.
Gyles was in top form, mugging madly at the audience and got different running jokes going in both his shows. One was on Royalty which he weaved into every subject, on the second show he pretended to be Russell Kane's father. He really is very very fluent these days and very original too. A hard man to challenge.
Shappi looked a bit nervous. She was described by both Tilusha and Nicholas as being almost new to the game, though the show was actually her tenth. There is a Peter Jones-ish quality to her in that she builds a rapport with the audience even though she isn't a great challenger. She had some good lines.
Alun Cochrane had a big grin on his face the whole time - he really loved it, and he seemed to enjoy chatting to Paul who he was sitting beside. He wasn't that competitive but as in previous appearances, he had something funny to say every time he had the subject.
Jason Byrne is an Irish comedian who specialises in interaction with the audience. He was a big chatter, before during and after the show, but didn't really get going when he had the subject. Nicholas had to resort to pressing his buzzer for him twice to get him involved! But when it didn't matter points-wise, he was very funny. I'll be interested to see how he sounds in the edit. It's possible a lot of his stuff will be edited out because it was outside the game.
Russell Kane is a stand-up - couldn't quite pick his accent, he said he was from Essex but I'm not sure if that was a joke or not, because he didn't sound Essexish. He is sorta camp, but if the Internet can be trusted, is actually straight. Has done some TV, things like I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, and Big Brother. When he came out he looked bloody nervous and he indeed tweeted he was nervous. Well he was as funny as any of the others and ended up winning the game! Not many win on their first show, especially against Paul and Gyles. Gee he looked like someone who will be doing the show a lot - just fitted in, was great at the banter and so on.
The other thing I noticed is how much Sarah Sharpe enjoys doing the show. She had this huge smile on her face the whole time.
Nicholas - what can I say? He did bugger up his introductions and farewells more than once. But he ran the shows so well, a virtuoso performance. And the crowds just love him. A reminder yet again of just how good he is.
Afterwards I spoke briefly to Tilusha and Gyles. Tilusha said Nicholas had wanted to say hello but had to leave for an interview. I am hoping to have a yarn to Tilusha in the next couple of days.
Well, two really tremendous shows. Really enjoyed them.