A few years ago I made a rare excursion to the Grand Pavilion in Porthcawl for a comedy night, lured by the appearance of
DarkChat favourite Naz Osamanoglu, but was also intrigued by the up and coming comedian Adam Hess. Ultimately, the
latter didn’t turn up and was replaced by Cardiff based comedian Chris Chopping. A group of us were sitting in the front
row and were all getting involved, but for some reason I was accused by Chopping of having “dead eyes”.
Anyway, a few years of counselling later I felt able to face this comedian again and duly travelled on a wet Thursday to
the Flute and Tankard. I hadn’t previously attended a Dolly Chicken event but enjoyed the relaxed vibe as we were
greeted by our host for the evening, Anita Shaw. They certainly like to pack the entertainment in and after music from
house band Molly Katz, the impressive Andrew Rutledge and the weird Penny Matthews it was time for an interval before
our headline act.
Most of the comedy shows I review are either Edinburgh previews or actually during the festival. It is therefore unusual
and rather refreshing to check a performance out in September rather than July or August. You would expect that a
month performing his show at The 3 Broomsticks would help him hone his material and that is exactly what has happened.
In a preview the performer either has buzzwords written on his hands or generally refers to notes or scripts written on a
laptop which as well as being memory aids also allows them to note which particular sections don't work so they can
improve as they go along. Oddly, Chris had a few notes but only stop him forgetting bits as it has been several weeks
since he last performed the show and impressively has already been writing new material.
Last year his show "Premature Emasculation" concentrated upon his happiness but sadly 2018 hasn't been so good to
him so a lot of this show is about his recent break-up. Chris tells us early on this is not a show with an in-built character arc
and a moral, just a collection of stories about his current life. This isn't world-breaking fare but it is eminently funny and
enjoyable. It is good to see a likeable comedian in complete control of his subject matter (and audience) with a well-crafted
hour of gentle tales of his life. The month of performing at Edinburgh has tightened his material and given him plenty of
self-confidence. There are lots of laugh-out-loud moments although my favourites were his "ists" lists (who doesn't love a
comedy list?) and his unlikely choice of alcoholic drink addiction, although (perhaps oddly) I felt his delivery slowed after
impressively downing said item.
I thoroughly enjoyed the evening but by the end I was tired and think perhaps that Dolly Chicken Nights either need to start earlier or have less acts. Finishing at 10.30pm on a school night is too late for me and judging how quickly everyone else left at the end I suspect I am not in the minority on this point. Even then, tonight has convinced me not to wait too long before seeing Mr Chopping again, and I look forward to catching up with his new material either locally or at a future Fringe.
Review by Dave 'Dead Eyes' Cox
Chris Chopping is on Facebook here
and Dolly Chicken Comedy here
The Flute and Tankard, Cardiff
20th September 2018