In the space of a couple of years, Matt's Comedy Club has carved itself a rather nice niche. Serious comedians, and some very good names (tonight's headliner Milton Jones has certainly been on the ascendancy since he first appeared here a year ago), with a great atmosphere. Just light on the swearing, so that all the family can enjoy the laughs.
The three acts appearing upstairs at Worthing's Dome tonight are all good, clean fun and represent three comedy threads with a strong lineage. Importantly though they all have a modern edge.
Opening act, club founder and tonight's compere is Russ Bravo. He has a good line in neat gags, puns and wordplay (he's provided jokes for a few names) but he excels at comedy songs. He's a 21st century Richard Digance. Tonight, we have an excellent Royal Wedding song, and a ditty about paving slabs. Bravo is a natural compere, and holds the night together with ease and charm.
The next act takes a simple piece of whimsy and turns it into a powerful, punchy routine. He's a mime - and went to mime school - and has lived a mime's life. But he's giving up the most hated of comedy forms.
As with all the best comedians, there's a grain of truth in Richard Vobes act. He has worked as a comedy character, doing walkabout routines for corporate clients, and is a master of mime and street comedy. Tonight's act weaves a strong narrative, but still gives plenty of opportunity for good mime gags that get big laughs. Traditional stuff - the mime in a box, walking his imaginary dog, climbing a ladder, shot in the eye by an imaginary arrow and generally fooling around with mime props.
Vobes though has a twist. The most powerful mime prop is a mime's tears; wear them too long, as Richard does to end his act, and the tragic character takes over. The energy and exuberance, tempered by a darkness, reminded me of the physicality of early work by Theatre De Complicite. It's clever, precise, punchy and plays to Vobes strengths.
It's also a neat counter to tonight's headliner, Milton Jones. Now tagged, inevitably, as 'the star of panel show Mock The Week'. Which he isn't really; he's hardly a panel member at all, being very much the odd one out on that show. While others have relied on sharp political observation or sheer nastiness, Jones relies on good, old-fashioned, surrealistic gags and anarchic wordplay. Think Milligan and Morecambe.
The puns come thick and fast, each delivered with neat, sharp style and with Jones standing stock-still under his shock of mad hair on the laugh-line. Just occasionally, Jones breaks to engage the audience directly, and they prove to be as surreal as his jokes tonight. Of course, that plays into his hands and he has an easy patter which means he can laugh at them without it ever becoming nasty.
Clever stuff, which is of course the point of tonight. Clever comedy, comfortable surroundings, great company. What's not to love about Matt's Comedy Club?