Two years without a laugh is a long time. Since the Comedy Club Cote d'Azur deserted Monaco we've had to rely on YouTube for clips from Father Ted and detached rants by Stewart Lee. So we were excited to find out, through a spam email from Jack Monaco, that English language standup in the shape of The British Invasion, was returning to Monaco on Saturday 22nd September.
|MC Gary Sansome|
We arrived early, around 7.30pm, thinking we would have a bite to eat before the show. A few people were enjoying drinks on the terrace, but the dining room was nearly empty. Someone had placed a microphone stand on a furniture-free bit of floor by the window, but otherwise it was closely packed with tables and chairs, as if lots of diners were expected.
A 55 euros, four-course menu deal, including show tickets, had been advertised, but we didn't fancy that. Instead, we chose a burger (18 euros) from the lengthy carte. It was "Italian-style," on focaccia bread, with a side order of chips and little pots of ketchup and mustard. We washed it down with a beer, fizzy water and a bottle of Croze Hermitage red and occasionally glanced at the television, where Montpellier and Nice were kicking a ball around. The comedians sat together by the window.
The show started later than advertised, at around 9.30pm. Balding Glaswegian Gary Sansome was MC for the evening, warming up the room and introducing the acts. By now it was obvious that not all the punters were there to watch standup. Not to worry! Nicole Harris, first up to the mic, showed prodigious skill and tenacity in winning over the Gallic diners using her knowledge of French vocabulary. Although I'm struggling to think of a situation in which I can use my newly learned word, 'prépuce'.
Irish storyteller, Jack Hester followed, then Essex man, Darran Griffiths, closed the first half dressed in Jack's Jack Sparrow gear. After a short break, Gary returned to share his thoughts about Liam Neeson as well as his envy of the luxurious locks of Andre de Freitas, the Portuguese comedian who was first up in the second half. He was followed by founder of The British Invasion, Vanessa Marcie from Nice, and Daphna Baram ended the evening with a slick and funny set.
The show was fast and furious, sometimes anarchic, with humorous short stories and gags. Due to the number of acts, each was limited to a ten-minute set, in contrast to past comedy clubs which have featured only two or three comedians.
Saturday night at Jack's was an odd choice for an English language gig. At the weekend, the port area usually attracts a young French crowd from neighbouring towns, whereas anglophone residents and workers are more likely to be around from Sunday to Thursday. In spite of that, a second date has been scheduled, another Saturday night on 17th November and again in Jack Monaco. Put it in your diary right now!
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