I went to Miss D’s Silver Hammer last night – the weekly London comedy night run by Israeli comic Daphna Baram who tends to successfully deter any potential hecklers by pointing out in advance that she has diabetes and has been trained to kill by the IDF. Not, as I at first thought, the International Diabetes Federation but the Israeli Defence Forces.
Next Monday, she has an entirely Irish group of comedians performing her day-after-St-Patrick’s-Day show, but she did pretty well on the Celtic line-up last night too.
I was there to see Irish podcast supremo Christian Talbot perform and also because he and Daphna Baram had mightily pushed to me the talents of camp-ish Dubliner Al Porter.
Also performing were two Glaswegians – non-gay Gary Sansome (soon to de-camp to Australia) and extremely talented and gay-in-both-senses-of-the-word Larry Dean.
Al Porter was, indeed, as good as Christian and Daphna had told me. Both reckon he will become very successful very soon and he well might do, though one can never tell.
Talent is usually never enough but sure Al has the gift of rapid patter in depth, great audience controlling charm and very good clothes sense (never something to underestimate with this sort of act).
He claimed on-stage that the only reason he had accepted the gig was to meet the afore-mentioned gay Glaswegian Larry Dean who tragically, between booking and performance, had become tied-up in a monogamous relationship, thus scuppering Al’s cherished hopes.
In other circumstances, I might have thought this was part of the act.
Sadly, I fear the wreckage of Al’s shattered dreams may have been a reality.
I had been told there was an element of Frankie Howerd in Al’s act. I could see very faint traces, but only because the idea had been planted in my mind. The delivery was so fast, so smooth and so overwhelming that the act was nothing like the blessed Frankie.
Oddly, what last night reminded me of was seeing an early-ish stage performance by Steve Coogan at Manchester University Students’ Union in what, I guess, must have been 1992.
There was something about the self-confidence of the delivery and movements, something about the sharpness of the costume and something of the ambitiousness behind the eyes which reminded me of that 1992 Steve Coogan both on and off stage.
Christian and Daphna may be right.
Al Porter may well be very successful very fast.
But, as I say, you can never tell.
Sometimes talent – and even sharp, driving ambition – are not enough.
On the other hand, if I were being superficial – “perish the thought” as my dead father used to say (before his death) – a flamboyantly gay, brightly dressed, highly-self-confident Irish comedian with strong audience empathy is a good starting point and a good selling point for English and American audiences.
I expect to see him on the David Letterman show within five years.
Or maybe Al will have his own chat show in Ireland or the UK.
But my comic expectations are often dashed.
And, as I oft quote: Nobody Knows Anything (Saying © William Goldman, 1983)