Factually Inaccurate #7: Bex Turner, Charlie Vero-Martin, Richard Vranch, Alex Bertulis-Fernandes and Arthur Smith

Hello! Did you miss us? Omicron knocked out our December and January shows, and it also threatened to do a number on our February return. Two days before the show, both our headliner, Isy Suttie, and our tech hero, Jamie, caught the ‘Vid. Did they catch it off each other? We will never know, and it’s pointless to speculate. But this left us in a slight hole.

Miraculously, we were able to book the brilliant Arthur Smith as a replacement for Isy, and Alex Bertulis-Fernandes performed in place of Sian Docksey, who couldnt make it for personal reasons. We wish Isy and Sian well, and look forward to having them on our Hoopla stage later in the year.

Poster art by Madeleine Horsley.

An hour before he was due to arrive at The Miller, our host, James Walsh, had a cargo bike with a puncture and broken spokes somewhere in Wandsworth. Would he make it to London Bridge in time? The answer, cheerfully, is yes, but only just. Big thanks to Maddi Sainsbury, replacement tech human Darren and the fictional owl for setting everything up in his absence.

This month’s conceit was to pretend there had been a double booking between a comedy night and a pub quiz. Wandering between the tables before the show was due to start, asking “here for the quiz?” and handing out the picture round was both a very fun and also very cruel bit, given some of the panicked expressions. But once people realised it was a joke, they took the quiz about as seriously as the comedy: a nice paradox to leave running in the background, like a particularly stupid Hadron Collider.

After all, the quizmaster’s decision is always final, even if he’s extremely wrong.

Our first act was Brighton’s Bex Turner, who we had booked on the strength of her Su Pollard impression. Dressed in oversized external bloomers, Turner’s onstage presence is as huge and confrontational as her offstage persona is polite and friendly.

From my vantage point at the back of the room, ushering in the stragglers, I spotted genuine fear. Which is, of course, exactly what you want from an alternative comedy night run by avian predators.

Next up was returning champion Charlie Vero-Martin, who was performing as HERSELF instead of a Scandinavian marine biologist or long-dead Italian poet. Her topics were cryptic crosswords and weightlifting, a combination that makes about as much sense as my old Cricket and Doctor Who podcast.

Charlie Vero-Martin.

Where Turner deals in terror, Vero-Martin brings charm, which carried her through the inevitable and by this stage traditional Factually Inaccurate projector mishaps.

Maddi Sainsbury returned to the important topic of stylophones, and by this point we were so relaxed I was able to join in from the side of the stage with her second, completely non-functional cheap 1970s synth.

Holy shit, next up was Richard Vranch, another returning champion. What a spectacular man, with his imaginary slides, meerkat-adjacent accent, and beautiful unspooling of jokes, puns, and punchlines.

Richard Vranch.

During the interval, I handed out tinfoil, as though at a middle class pub quiz in Hackney, and demanded everyone use it to construct model tin foil owls.

Incredibly, this actually happened.

An owl made of tinfoil

Our post-break double whammy was Alex Bertulis-Fernandes and Arthur Smith, two comedians at differing ends of the experience ladder but both of whom I fully expect to perform for decades to come.

Bertulis-Fernandes was warming up for her Soho Theatre show the following night, and did her usual trick of making the trickiest of material seem like the most inclusive and natural in the world. They say the best comedy is truth – I think that’s what they say, anyway, I haven’t seen them in a while – and this set is stark and beautifully funny.

Our host then had some time to read out the answers to the table round. By a complete coincidence, our tech guy had previously worked at London Zoo as an owl technician, and so was immediately disqualified. He got 8/9.

Arthur Smith time. He was spotted having a lovely catch-up with Vranch during the interval, before heading out for a traditional pre-show fag, and was on beautiful, experimental form for his warm and beautifully received headline set.

Arthur Smith.

Most of it, let’s be frank, was in French, and dealt with love and beauty and stupidity: all the wonderful things. And so another wonderful Factually Inaccurate came to an end, in a manner described thusly by one of our regulars, Paul Creasy:

“The peak of the night was when I thought to myself, “it’s Tuesday evening, I’m surrounded by tin foil owls made by audience members, there’s a fully filled in owl quiz next to me, and Arthur Smith is on stage performing jokes exclusively in French”.

Factually Inaccurate Stand-Up returns on April 12th

Published by jamesofwalsh

My past blogs haunt the internet like ghost ships on a digital sea.

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