It is a difficult thing to make people laugh, to be able to deliver a gag with ease. One guy in my walking group has the poised skill of an absolute professional. He has the ability to make a comment in natural conversation with a punchline subtly planted. Even better, the actual gag is usually quite bad. One example from his repertoire is a guy whose wife has left him because he confessed he has a pasta fetish, to which he mutters, ‘I am okay, I guess but occasionally I feel cannelloni’.
(Kind of lonely).
Matchbox Comedy Club is a brand new, carefully curated showcase of alternative comedy featuring everything from sketch and stand up, to clown and storytelling. It gives comics the opportunity to trial new material, test routines and sets. It is in a sense a laughter laboratory. I have been to the gig twice and admittedly some acts are funnier than others, but it is all about preference. Some people worship acts like Miranda and Sarah Millican, personally I find the only way I’d possibly laugh at their monotone voices and predictable routines is if they were slapped across the face with a giant piece of fresh trout. Each to their own I suppose, comedy is subjective.
I recently caught up with the comedy night’s resident compere Alastair Clark to see what this clown has to say for himself and talk about the monthly humour fest that he describes as,
A little matchbox full of joy.
10mh: Tell us a joke.
To be honest, I don’t really feel like it. I may have been inclined to do so, if you hadn’t been so rude. I mean… You didn’t even say ‘please’. No ‘hi, you are you?’ Just straight in with the demands. And while I would like to be cooperative with your interview I can’t help but feel that telling you a joke now would only reward your negative behaviour. So I feel that it would be for the best if we put this whole sorry affair behind us and try to start fresh with the next question. I can only hope you are more courteous in your interactions in the future.
1omh: What is the funniest book you have ever read?
I once read my mate’s diary from when they were 14. It was hysterical! Bad poetry and confessions about boys she fancied. Epic stuff.
10mh: Who are your comic influences?
The Incredible Hulk mainly. While most superheroes are just adolescent power fantasies, the Hulk embodies an essential moral relativism. Dr Bruce Banner is a normal scientist who tries not to let his emotions get the better of him. When he does get angry the consequences are dramatic and unpredictable, I think we could all learn a lot from the Hulk.
10mh: What should audiences expect from the comedy night?
Oh right Matchbox, yeah. Erm, dunno… Something a bit different definitely. I feel like this is a really exciting time for comedy in general. There’s a whole new crop of people who are looking at things from a totally different perspective, comedically speaking, and they’re really pushing the boundary of what comedy is in terms of style and content. And what we try to do is get some of those people, put them in a theatre and set them loose on an unsuspecting (but consenting) audience. So expect things that are a little unusual but also brave.
We also try to book diverse lineups, mixing styles and practices in a way that is pleasing on the pallet. Perhaps the best thing for an audience to expect would be to expect nothing. Not because we will deliver nothing, on the contrary we will deliver a lovingly handcrafted tapestry as elegant as the Bayeux and as long as the Nile. But because if you expect nothing then you won’t have any preconceptions, bringing a totally clear and open mind will allow us to make magic in your head space. Whereas if you’re sat there with your arms folded thinking ‘When are they going to talk about the differences between men and women?’ you will definitely be disappointed. Whatever way you look at it, it’s better than an arrow in the eye.
10mh: Is there a formula for comedy?
Is there a formula for any art? There are people far more qualified than me to answer that question. There have been thousands of years of discourse on aesthetics and I dare say that they are no closer to an answer now than when they started. To be honest, if you were looking to me to sort that problem out, I think it would be fair to say that you had unrealistically high expectations of this interview.
10mh: If you could have your ideal comic line up for an evening who would it be?
Hulk (obvs), Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hawkeye and Black Widow… Just The Avengers really.
10mh: What makes Matchbox stand out from all the other comedy nights in Liverpool?
Loads of things. Its fun, it’s different, it’s exciting, and it’s in a lovely space… Like I said, loads of stuff. Come and see for yourselves. I could try to tell you everything there is to know about Matchbox comedy nights all the facts about: what goes on; what happens; how it works: but I wouldn’t be able to tell you what it’s like to experience it. You’d have to experience it yourself to know that.
The subjective act of experiencing creates a new fact over and above physical reality that cannot be communicated. If you don’t get what I mean, try reading some Thomas Nagel. Or just come to Matchbox. Up to you.
Matchbox Comedy Club –
The Lantern Theatre, 57 Blundell Street, Liverpool, L1 0AJ
8th Apr / 13th May / 10th Jun / 8th Jul
(Monthly, Every second Wednesday of the month)
Doors 7.30pm, Show 8pm
£3 in advance or £4 on the door
(Tickets available from The Lantern Theatre)
Alastair Clark is the resident compere and curator of Matchbox Comedy Club. A respected act on the alternative Liverpool comedy scene, Alastair’s style is a mixture of insecurity, honesty and offbeat delivery.
The Lantern Theatre is an atmospheric and intimate family run Fringe theatre venue located in the heart of Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle.
THAT Comedy Productions is an independent live production company, based in Liverpool and run in association with THAT Comedy Blog.