on the brilliantness of patch hyde (and toby french)

Today I would like to specifically write about Patch Hyde.

Not simply because I did a gig with him last night and he mentioned that every time he pops up in this blog he seems to play a very small role (ie “something happened and then I had a chat with with Patch and then something else happened”); but also because I was thinking what an exceptionally good compere he is.

I was even talking to one of the co-promoters of the club about it (the club, incidentally, is a new one called ‘Llaugh‘, it’s in Clapham Junction and by January I reckon it will be one of the super-top comedy clubs in London).

We were talking about Patch’s compering, and I was saying how for me as the night’s opening act – I am asked to open about three quarters of the gigs I do at the moment, it’s getting ridiculous – Patch got everything just right: he made everyone feel comfortable; talked to individual audience members in a way that was pitched just on the right side of cheekiness to be funny; did a few little material-y lines so that the room could get the hang of listening to material; and then brought me on at exactly the right time so that I had just the right amount of goodwill from the audience and all I had to do was come up and do my stuff and enjoy it.

And then as the night went on, Patch’s bits in between the acts were great – at one point he got a muscular-looking foreign gent in the front row to come and lift him up to show he could lift him up, but the guy didn’t speak English so the whole thing took on that wonderfully surreal quality that you sometimes get with really good improvised stand-up that you genuinely don’t know what’s going to happen next but it doesn’t occur to you for an instant that it might not be funny.

And then at the end of the night, some people came in late and Patch basically described the whole show to them in a way that felt like an event had happened and everyone could go away feeling like they’d seen a show which was simultaneously anarchic and yet somehow very well-put-together.

It’s a really difficult skill to compere like that. I’m getting to be a pretty competent MC now, but I’ve only done it as well as that maybe once or twice ever; but Patch seems to be able to do it effortlessly. It’s a complete change from so many acts who, when they compere, still have everything meticulously planned in a way that guarantees laughs but never quite hits those heights of potential chaos.

Having said that, meticulous planning and scripting has its merits too. Not least because it leads to comedians saying things like Toby French (who has some really very well-scripted stories) did before the show.

He was looking very seriously at the list of routines scrawled on his wrist as an aide-memoire. And then, with a very straight face, looked up at me and asked, “Do you know if we’re doing ten minutes or fifteen? Because if it’s fifteen I’ll do all this and the granny-fucking bit; but if it’s only ten then I’ll have to drop the foetus.”

Brilliant.

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1 Comment

  1. […] with Patch Hyde, which was as much fun as you might expect if you know Patch (or you read my previous blog about […]


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