July. Rain. The rain. Some sun. Wimbledon. Rain. The Open Golf. Rain. And most importantly pre-Edinburgh fringe festival previews.
The Cardiff Comedy festival wisely chooses this month to spot-light familiar (and probably more importantly) lesser known but up and coming talent as they try out their shows before they to the Scottish capital later next month.
This is the time to catch a bargain. For about the price of a solo show in Edinburgh you get to see two comedians performing their acts. You then get the chance to see how your reviews match those appearing North of the Border in August.
In tonight's double-bill of female funsters we first saw the award-winning Vikki Stone trying to explain what a "Hot Mess" was. We may not particularly have been any the wiser afterwards but we were impressed by the contents of her Durex hamper which was her reward for winning that award!
Showing complete confidence in her material and how to relate to an audience she revealed her love for Philip Schofield, Dragons Den and No Deal Or No Deal in a variety of hysterical set-pieces. As well as good spoken material she impressively showed that the art of the comedy song was not dead and knew the limits of rude, bawdy humour without reverting to coarseness for effect.
A Monday evening Cardiff audience wants to be entertained but will get involved if asked politely. Joining in with a love song to the theme of Jurassic Park was the perfect, if surreal, moment which summed up the evening.
The Edinburgh festival is awash with comedians, and it is easy just to see people off the television (although they don't come cheap). Much more fulfilling is picking less familiar (and more reasonably priced) names and to enjoy watching their career develop. To be honest Vikki Stone was not a name I recognised when I arrived but hopefully she will receive the acclaim she deserves in Edinburgh for this highly enjoyable and extremely funny show. If you want to be able to say you caught her first go and see her at the Underbelly.
Second up was the more familiar Lucy Porter (familiar to us at least having been the 11th show that DarkChat ever saw back in the day) although recently she has been out of the spotlight due to 2 almost consecutive pregancies. She has always been a comedienne who talks about her own experiences and her show 'People Person' revolves around how she has coped with bringing up two young children. In particular the need to leave the house and try and make new friends, resulting in a chance meeting at a coffee shop.
Lucy Porter is a likeable performer and a great storyteller and the tale - as always - is funny and interesting with an unexpected (and sad) ending, but it had few laugh-out-loud highlights.
It was enjoyable but (on this double-bill of female comics) she had the misfortune to follow the high octane set of Vikki Stone. It is perhaps unfair to compare their styles but Porter failed to build on the momentum the early act supplied.
Fun, but no surprises.
Vikki Stone is performing daily at 20.10 from August 1st at The Underbelly
Lucy Porter is appearing at The Stand from 2-26 August - Times vary