Thursday Night Live at The Frog and Bucket in Manchester has long been a fixture in a calendar, with some big names like Jason Manford, Peter Kay and Johnny Vegas having appeared on their way to the big time. On occasions the headline act on this night is already an established name and thanks to Britain’s Got Talent earlier this year our headliner tonight was very much in this category – Robert White.
For those who don’t know Robert White, he has been on the comedy circuit for a good few years but got into mainstream audience view when he wrote short songs on his keyboard that fired insults at judges David Walliams, Alisha Dixon, Amanda Holden and Simon Cowell. This was a format he continued through the heats and eventually went onto the final where he ended up as the runner up. White suffers from Asperger syndrome but rather than attempting to hide this, he very cleverly uses it as part of his act and creates laughs at his own expense.
Before we got to see our headliner, there were another 3 acts on the bill as well as our MC for the evening Lou Conran. Lou is something of a seasoned performer, having been a stand-up artist since 2005, and this showed as she effortlessly warmed up the very full crowd by chatting to some of those sat close to the stage. She very quickly picked up on a drunken party in the corner celebrating a milestone birthday and they became very much part of Lou’s act for the night.
The first act of the night was Abi Roberts, a larger than life stand-up who has been around only since 2016. She seemed a little nervous at the start of her set but grew into it within a few minutes, speaking the self-deprecating material covering her sex life and her uncanny resemblance to Susan Boyle – something her own mother informed her of! Roberts definitely has huge potential and we will be hearing much more from her in the coming years.
Next, was a change to the advertised performer as we saw Mike Keenan – a guy who is relatively new to the stand-up scene. He came into comedy later in life than most, although there are a lot of comics who have made a huge success using this path, he is also an IT Consultant. His wife apparently thinks comedy is some kind of mid-life crisis. Mike’s comedy was a little raw but was funny, he lacks a little experience of a crowd of this size perhaps but he managed to keep them entertained for the duration.
The final act before our headliner was Javier Jarquin – a New Zealander who now lives in the UK – and here the standard made a big leap. Javier arrived on stage and immediately you knew he deserved to be there, he knew how to handle the packed audience and he had some well-honed material that was perfect for this occasion. Javier is of mixed race and he very quickly moved into that area for his routine, telling a story of being on a plane going home to “wherever you think I came from”. He occasionally strays back into the area of race and prejudice but this is not the backbone of Javier’s material – he is simply an observational comedian with some very funny observations.
Finally, our main act Robert White arrived on stage and he did not disappoint at all. He was everything that you might have seen on Britain’s Got Talent and so much more – more edgy, more adult and most definitely funnier. His ability to interact with audience members and throw insults at them in such a subtle way that nobody minds is simply amazing. His keyboard was always close by his side, appearing to improvise songs and make-up lyrics as he went along, and this is very much part of what White does. It was a brilliant end to a very entertaining evening.
Reviewer – John Fishon – 19/7/18