Newbury Comedy Festival: John Moloney at New Greenham Arts, Newbury, on Saturday, July 23
NEWBURY Comedy Festival has been a most civilised affair this year. Spread comfortably over 20 days, it has included big names (Mark Watson and Rory Bremner), delightful treats (Running On Air, performed to an audience of five in a campervan), the welcome return of old favourites (Clare Plested) and slightly baffling performance poetry (You Look Like Ants). There was even a pleasing last-minute addition in the form of Dave Gorman, previewing his Edinburgh Fringe Powerpoint Presentation at New Greenham Arts on Thursday (I did see it, but he doesn’t want reviews - I think it’s alright to say that it was rather excellent, though).
And so, eventually, the comedy festival drew to an end on Saturday, with two seasoned performers - Joe Pasquale at The Corn Exchange, and John Moloney at New Greenham Arts. Moloney’s performance was a warm-up before returning to Edinburgh Fringe for a short run with his 2010 show Butterflies With Stretchmarks; an opportunity to ensure that he remembered it all (it looked like he did), and to bring it up to date with some relevant topical asides.
Butterflies With Stretchmarks was a lovely, gentle monologue focussing on the small things in life. From the noise his cat made when the vet surprised it with a thermometer (“Maugh”. Moloney spelt it for us.) to minute observations remembered from earlier life experiences out on the pull (hence the title of the show - it refers to tattoos), Moloney wove the mundanity of the everyday into a word painting, and left the audience well alone to relax into the evening without fear of reprisal.
There was nothing earth-shattering about the subject matter of Moloney’s whimsical musings, but his delivery was pure craftsmanship; the creation of a comedian who has spent years honing his work. A former German teacher, Moloney’s love of language and linguistics is central to his performance (and also elicits the trivia gem that the German word for nipples translates as “breast warts"). When the even the scatological and the curmudgeonly is transformed into poetry, you know that you’re in the safe hands of a comedy journeyman who is fully at ease in his work.
- First published in Newbury Weekly News, Thursday, July 28, 2011