Review: The Velvet Onion Comedy Club

LOTTIE UNWIN samples Cambridge’s new monthly comedy night.

Big Fish Ents Comedy Girton Monsters Henry's

*** and a half.

The Velvet Onion Comedy Night was like pass-the-parcel – fun guaranteed and though some layers were better than others, a delightful prize in the middle.  But this pass-the-parcel was fun crude enough to be made out of old porn mags and played to music that made you wish there was somewhere to go out on a Friday.

I arrived a bit disillusioned that ‘Henry’s Bar and Café’ with its riverside location would be an isolated bubble of class in Cambridge’s Cindies driven world.  Instead I found a scrubbed up ‘Spoons where a glass of wine was over a fiver and the toilets were a crazy three stories up.

Compere Karen Bayley had a shakey start with the cliched comment that everyone in the audience who wasn’t single looked miserable.  They didn’t, and she just looked bitter for having said it.  But, when she got onto sex or her lack of it, she was brilliant, to my sheer joy proposing that to men who quip ‘It’s not the size of the boat but the motion in the ocean’ women should reply ‘It might be a bucket, but it’s useful in a flood’. The drunk audience lapped up her low-brow humour and she relished their presence, ripping into the Girton Monsters, who swayed on their stools after a messy swap, and trying to make a slurring Russian teach us how to say something rude.

The first act, Cornish Paul Kerensa was the round where you find a sticky penny sweet sellotaped to the paper.  His ginger jokes were repetitive as were the jokes about his jokes being repetitive.  I did snigger at the notion that while we have Churchill car insurance the Germans might have ‘Hitler’, but that was about it until he pulled up his shirt to show us he had no belly button.  Imagine a Victorian travelling Circus stumbling into a posh ‘Spoons and you’ll be right with me.  Dazed and not really amused.

Australian Pete Jonas was the ‘rock-solid act guaranteed to entertain’ that the leaflet promised me, but doesn’t deserve any greater praise.  His impression of having sex with an Eastern European whose facial expression never changed – moans and dirty talk as monotone as a prerecorded message – had me doubled over.  His cynicism of Easy Jet was hilarious, and pretty much the only thing clean enough to recount to my parents.

Finally, Carl Donnelly’s headlining act was great and refreshing, telling us with endearing charm how he difficult he finds it to talk about sex rather than just how much or how little action he is getting.  Stories of being told there was no bread in Subway and his friend asking ‘how does a deaf person know the difference between a yawn and a scream?’ made me laugh and I believed they had happened, unlike other the comic’s seemingly constructed anecdotes.  But, while his jokes about leaving went on and still he hadn’t left I lost interest and if it wasn’t for quite so much wine it would have really pissed me off.

So what of Cambridge’s first monthly comedy night all in all?  It was the funniest thing I have seen in Cambridge but to avoid the wrath of ‘Theatre Goer’ who in despair of my complete uselessness sighed ‘Freshers these days…’ at the end of a long rant in response to one of my reviews, I will concede I haven’t seen that much here.  While at £8 for a concession ticket and then expensive drinks, (though there were rumours of £1.50 pints), I will definitely splash out to go to the next one.