Clarks: Oh What A Night!

The latest of Dan Clark’s occasional night of comedy and music, Clarks, took place last night at the legendary 100 Club in London.  Luckily for us, 2 of our intrepid reporters were there to cover proceedings exclusively for The Velvet Onion.

Clarks is a night that consists of a few things, great stand-up, possibly some mediocre stand-up, drunks, mistakes, maybe even some accidents. Overall a fantastic night guaranteed though.

© Rachel Emms

Dan Clark kicks off the night booming out his own introduction, and milking it to the max by dancing to a ‘You’re unbelievable’ instrumental. He performs a short, upbeat set before bringing out the first act; he’s obviously comfortable on this stage and in these surroundings – it’s his night afterall, and after 4/5 of them why shouldn’t he be?

The first act on stage was Pete Yohansson, who blew everyone’s minds with his Canadian cockiness. He was sharp, witty, daring and his constant theme of ‘I’m brilliant and if’ you don’t like me then f*** you’ made it hard not to adore him. George Ryegold was the next act, an older comic with a dry sense of humour, who I personally loved, although he failed to keep much of the audience’s attention, especially those at the bar.  I guess it’s the price you pay for having the bar within mumbling distance of the stage. Paul Foot then graced the stage and if you know Foot you will understand how everyone’s minds were boggled but blown away as he raced through, bouncing and hopping around the stage talking about how to hide from vans (“van glasses”, obviously), shire horses, then….well, I think I would be right in saying that the last few minute of his set was just him in silence and smiling every so often. Overall, a normal set for any Paul Foot fans – and one of the highlights of the night for a lot of us there.

In the second half of the show it was apparent that everyone in the venue had made several further visits to the bar. Fun for most, but not so much for Clark as one particular girl threatened to ruin the remainder of the night for everyone by constantly yelling out for attention. This was brilliantly resolved though by the entire audience chanting ‘OUT’ until the bouncer got the message and Dan very gracefully flicked her the V’s.

After this “issue” was sorted out we were introduced to Dan’s musical interlude, accompanied by Ben Parker and his band. They sung a handful of fantastic, hilarious little songs, one about him announcing he is fine with his gay friend kissing him ‘hello’…but not in front of his mum. Another about answering the door for the gas man in a thong, and a final one translated into French after every verse specifically for one French member of the audience.  Dan also very passionately belted a song telling Justin Bieber to F*** off. Everyone in the audience seemed to agree.

© Rachel Emms

And so to Fielding’s finale, by which time audience beer levels were probably peaking.  As such, Noel had to deal with a fair few lazy, pointless heckles: “I love you” and “Show us yer bum” are unlikely to drive any comedian to the dizziest heights of intellectual wit, but to his credit, Noel dealt with them reasonably well, attempting to weave them into his set, at one point comparing the love he felt for the heckler to the love “Pac Man ghosts feel for lychees” (i.e. not very much, I assume).  There was a long list of equally as random love analogies, but I was giggling too much to remember them.  Sorry.

The effect of the heckles that peppered Fielding’s performance was to interrupt the usually fluid flow of his stories, sending him off on unplanned tangents, which, while entertaining in their own right, didn’t give his set pieces the space they really need to shine.  In front of a more respectful ‘comedy audience’ Fielding totally controls the room.  By contrast, last night felt like a faltering, yet joyful dance between him and the crowd.  Fun, but perhaps not quite what he had planned.

The last segment of the night is always one of my favourites. Clarks is never over until a great, drunken sing-a-long. In the past this has involved everyone singing along to Bon Jovi’s ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’ with Rich Fulcher aka Eleanor, and for his Christmas show ‘Do they know it’s Christmas’. Tonight was something different entirely; ‘Girls just wanna have fun’. One of my favourite choices so far,  and I couldn’t think of a more perfect way to end a just as brilliant night. All I can say is Dan Clark really does have it sussed and I look forward to Clarks returning as soon as possible. Nothing is planned yet, but fingers crossed!  I’m sure The Onion team will be on the case as soon as anyone hears anything.

6 Comments on Clarks: Oh What A Night!

  1. It was another fantastic night at clarks, i cant wait for the next one! The hecklers were so annoying though, i thought that girl would get the hint after we all yelled out at her!

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  2. I’ve never been to Clarks before, so was interested to see what it was like. It was certainly an interesting, rollercoaster type of an evening. Dan Clark himself is a cocksure, articulate perfomer who does not tolerate sychophants in any way shape or form, but I have to admit I was slightly shocked at the “Out, Out” chanting from the audience. It seemed a little harsh, and I did wonder at one point whether I was in the audience for a Jeremy Kyle show! However, I kind of admire him for doing it. It showed the absolute control he has over his audience and his intolerance of comedy brown nosing in general. “Have you no self awareness” he enquired of the “fan” – but of course he should be aware that a small percentage of Fielding’s audience have no self awareness whatsoever!

    I enjoyed all the acts in their immense diversity. I particularly enjoyed Paul Foot – who I have never seen before. I will never look at a shire horse in quite the same way again! The sheer physical dexterity, the complex array of emotions, the bizzare observations of the miniature events of everyday life were highlighted in a spectacular way I have not witnessed in a long time. The doctor guy was interesting too, but I fear a little too sophisticated with his “gallows humour” for a younger audience. I hope he is enjoying his sabbatical. After the comedy circuit surely the consulting room will seem like a breeze!

    The canadian guy was the sort of act a lot of “alternative” people would enjoy, but for some unknown reason he did not strike a cord with me. Strange what can do it for you, eh?

    Fielding came on to a raptuous, rock star welcome wearing a “onesy” and a Rod Stewart circa late 70’s hairdo. One of the audience turned into a pimp for a minute “Show us your bum!”, this was even before he had launched into his set propertly. I think he was a little suprised himself and did not know what to say. He started with a few of his usual observations, “Hello lady, you’ve got a face, I’ve got a face” type of thing. Initially his material was the same old, same old (sorry Noel). The chav story no 1 – he met a chav who was apparently a philospher (they come in many guises) who said to him “Wot iz you” this is funny the first time, the second time and even the third, but how many times must we hear this tired tale? We get it, the guy did not “get you” – get over it and move on with your life! The second chav tale is at least imbued with more detail and is faintly entertaining. Then we will move on with his hair – to be fair to Fielding this is what he is known and celebrated for and an obvious choice of material. At one point he left me completely but did drag me back in his comedy net with bizarre observations about french porn and washing machines, coupled with some bizarre comparsions to fairies and prostitutes. Interesting how the mind can work. The sad, sychopantic creature who at one point declared so movingly “I love you” was cringeworthy. I did not know whether to be deeply moved or throw up. I compromised with a bit of both. And herein lies the problem with Fielding’s material – don’t get me wrong some of his fans are hugely intelligent, eloquent people (I know some of them, so can vouch for this!) but others although they want him to say something – they don’t actually care what it is. I hope for the longevity of his career he understands this. But then again I would never underestimate him, he would never bite the hand that feeds him. But overall I did enjoy his set and it was an impressive length. No pun intended there, I would not know! He did give us our money’s worth and I really hope Mr Clark will not disappoint and do another night in the near future. It’s a hugely entertaining evening! Hope I’ve not bored people to death!

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  3. The repetition of old material is a thorny subject, and one which has featured in many heated debates amongst Boosh fans. Noel is certainly not unique in using the same material over a relatively long period of time. Where he differs from most comedians though is in the loyalty of some of his fans – which can be pretty extreme. Like you, Susan, I’ve seen Noel perform many times over many years (as have many others), and it’s true that hearing the same lines multiple times can wear a little thin. But there are lots of new fans or casual comedy goers who are seeing him now and who haven’t heard it before, and it’s not our right (representing the extreme end of the wedge) to dictate what he does.

    One could argue that Noel should be more aware of his excessively loyal fanbase and refresh his material more frequently, but to be fair to the guy he is writing a lot of new stuff. At a gig I went to a few weeks ago I’d say 70+% of his set was new. I’d love it to be 100%, but there are so many demands on his time these days, it can’t be easy. And for a lot of his current audiences, it will be the first time they’ve heard any of his material in the flesh.

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  4. Very good point. A number of comedians are still using jokes they wrote 10 years ago. I could name them, but its not very sporting is it… they know who they are… 😉

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  5. I agree Mog – and it was really nice to put a name to the face btw! I now know who you are! To be fair to him there were lots of improvised bits in there that were quite fascinating – the Jane Birkin bit, strands of amusing annecdotes etc. It is that particular “chav” story that bugs me for some odd reason. Don’t get me wrong I like his material, I wouldn’t bother going otherwise. The last gig I went to I really enjoyed – it was full of energy and his imagination was leaping all over the place, it was honed and toned, (bit of poetry there for you!) It’s just that with some of the fans Mog (the younger, star struck ones) they just see him as some comedy poster boy to drool over and I can understand why, but there is more to him than that. But I digress and it is indeed not my place to try and police his act. Sometimes some of the old lines can be quite comforting and ease you into the performance. For example the solider one – lets pretend we’re two soliders missing our wives – I love that one and I would never tire of hearing it! There does indeed seem to be a lot going on in the Boosh camp – the promise of a film, artwork and so forth and preparing it all must need spectacular planning. I can be an extreme sort of a person at times. I get passionate about stuff, the spoken word and really good peformance can lift you to another level entirely. There are certain plays and books that have affirmed my (somewhat limited) faith in the human race! But like I say I’ve said enough for one day! Hope to see you guys in the not too distant future! Kind regards, Susan

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  6. We had fun!! It was awesome thanks very much. I hoped Noel Fielding would be there but I hadn’t told my friend so when he came on her face was a picture. Aw!! It was all great though-you were all lovely! Nice one!

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3 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Fielding says “Painting calms me down” « The Velvet Onion
  2. Dan Clark at Underbelly « The Velvet Onion
  3. Foot & Fielding « The Velvet Onion

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