Seek out the Castle Tavern, acquire thyself a beverage, squeeze yourself into the cellar room and - if the stars are aligned just right - the gods of comedy value will smile upon you too.
On the last Monday of each month, The Castle Tavern treats you to five (yes, five!) stand-up acts plus compère for a mere five British pounds! If you think you can find comedy cheaper anywhere else then you’re having a laugh.
Admittedly the night began a mite slowly. Our compère chose to kick things off with a slightly apologetic start, followed by some light rules, then beseeched us to be gentle. Cue some uncomfortable shuffling. An early ‘call and response’ garnered some audience participation but we were not quite ready. Our next two acts were also somewhat gentle. Pleasant enough, with some clear potential ('I’m not body positive, I’m a ham in a wig!'), but perhaps lacking the experience to handle a pretty-much-sober Monday night crowd.
When Conor McReynolds joined us though things picked up rapidly, and stayed there. McReynolds is clearly practised in the local comedy circuit and wears his confidence well. He felt at ease, so I felt at ease. Grunts turned to chuckles, chuckles to laughs. McReynolds delivered well-paced narrative laughs with simplicity and easy timing. Good job well done.
After the break, and some beer, the audience had clearly warmed up to the evening. Tara Newton-Wordsworth did not disappoint. Edgy without being crass, my friend and I found ourselves quoting her act above all others on our way home. Newton-Wordsworth also displayed a fine set of comedy accents, which she used properly to enhance, rather than generate, the laughs. Again, clearly a professional.
By now we are bubbly and fully ready for our fifth and final act; the irrepressible Sameena Zehra. It’s clear that Zehra enjoys being on stage and is able to tell a good story. With a snappy delivery she summoned forth the great characters of her mother and grandmother - I’d love to meet them.
Zehra is clearly confident, experienced and very funny person, so I guess I was vaguely disappointed that much of the act was focused on her identity as an Indian woman. A bit predictable? I don’t know. But I do know that it doesn’t matter really, because she was very, very funny.
All in all, we had a great time, and for a fiver it’s bloody smashing. We’re arranging to go again next month - I urge you to do the same.