Mick Miller Comedy Bonanza - Blackpool Grand Theatre
What a difference a few minutes prime time television can make.
After years of happily closing the first half of shows, touring the comedy circuit and notching up several series as Johnny Vegas’ dad in cult TV hit Ideal, the Royal Variety Show “discovery” finally showed the nation that Poulton-based Mick Miller is one of the country’s funniest comedians.
His fans have known it all along but now it’s official – he’s headlining his own weekly show and no one is asking why.
Granted it’s the same mix of up to the minute jokes (last week’s punk festival and the various Olympic gaffes were pretty much written into the script off the hoof) and more familiar winners (it wouldn’t be the same without his trademark gin soaked children’s radio show presenter) but Mick has perfect comic delivery and a winning way with cleverly worded one liners and observations.
New to Blackpool is Billy Hunter – a props and visual comedian who has the gift of looking funny enough to have the audience laughing before he even opens his mouth.
Some of his gags are older than he is, at least one of his sketches is a little bit too clubland and there’s the feeling he’s seen Billy Pearce and The Grumbleweeds along the way a few times, but there’s still plenty of potential and promise in a routine which has Music Hall tradition stamped all over it (which is no bad thing).
Grand pantomime regular Steve Royle seemed strangely unsettled pitching his longer than usual routine midway between his panto persona and his Slaughterhouse alternative comedy group alter ego. His usual boundless energy struggled a bit with his nostalgia based comedy but as ever he had his juggling talents and likeable personality to fall back onto.
Vocalist Clare Brady is another new name to Blackpool theatres.
A powerful voice presumably honed in social clubs saw her tackle Paloma Faith and Adele material as well as a roof raising I Will Always Love You. But she needs to avoid falling into the clubland traps of demonstrative microphone handling and forgetting there’s a large stage to work on.
Scream Theatre School’s Bonanza Dancers provided their own spots – such as an energetic Thriller routine – as well as providing the backbone for an Oliver! medley aided by other members of the cast (Hunter particularly impressive as Fagin).
One thing though. Drop the full cast Von Trapp family finale. It simply doesn’t work – except to confuse people.
* Mick Miller’s Comedy Bonanza runs every Wednesday until October 31.