I’ve never been to that bar in Beetham Tower. Despite the fact I love drinking in places that are dead high up, I’ve lived in Manchester even longer than it’s been there and you can see it from pretty much anywhere so it’s not like I don’t have a constant reminder. Anyway for some reason or another I’ve never got round to it, and the same could be said of the Frog and Bucket. I often felt like the only person I knew who hadn’t been to a show there, but you’ll be glad to hear I finally broke my duck the other day when I caught the new improv show Discount Comedy Checkout.
If you grew up in the 80s or 90s you probably remember Who’s Line is it Anyway, with Clive Anderson and those two Canadian guys, and that’s pretty much the concept here too. Except this isn’t on telly so the audience get’s the opportunity to say what they’re really thinking – and it gets pretty weird.
After a trip to New York around a decade ago to take an improv course at the Second City comedy club, jester in chief Chris Lumb returned to Leeds and set up his own troupe. Now in their tenth year, the Discount Comedy Checkout team is made up of Chris, Natalie Smeaton, Eddie French, Terri Shaw, Jade Fearnley, Tom King and Dom Hodgson – who all work on rotation.
When it comes to the show they’ve devised an evening full of funny games, from having to start each sentence with a letter moving through the alphabet to miming out a bizarre Olympic event suggested by the audience. We ended up witnessing a bizarre sketch of two competitors battling it out to remove kitchen basins with (of course) basin wrenches. Essentially the show is as surreal as the audience desires though, so be sure to bring along your imagination.
You can really see the camaraderie between the team though, these guys are lightening quick, it must be hard for them to not set each other off laughing all the time. There’s a wonderful slapstick nature to it all but they are all impressively literate in film culture and genres too, creating brilliant, quick draw pastiches of popular cinema that will have you in stitches. Having never been to an improv style comedy night before I wasn’t sure what to expect and these lot left me wanting more. It was proper funny throughout.
The great news is the Discount Comedy Checkout is now running monthly at the Frog and Bucket, the next show’s on 19th March – Tickets available here
Frog and Bucket Comedy Club
102 Oldham St,
0161 236 9805