‘A day without laughter is a day wasted’.
It’s seven o’clock in Reflections Bar on a clear and crisp January evening. There’s a mixed air of excitement and high anxiety as the organiser, Alana-Jade, waits in anticipation for the opening night of her brainchild, the North West Comedy Collective, to get underway. The acts are arriving and people are already bravely lining the front seats of the venue, wondering what exactly they are in store for this evening.
Long has Blackpool been famous for attracting the best and most well-loved comedians over the years. Faces such as Tommy Cooper, Morecambe and Wise, Ken Dodd and Peter Kay are to name but a few of over thousand artists that have graced the stages and venues dotted around the town centre. So famed for this scene, there is even a tribute laid out for all to see at the headlands at the foot of Blackpool Tower, the Comedy Carpet.
Over the years there has been a gradual decline in the events and attractions that tourists visit Blackpool to come and see. Gone are the golden days of the deck chair-lined promenade with its holiday makers donning their knotted handkerchiefs and partaking in a iconic ninety-nine ice cream or even a leisurely donkey ride. Blackpool has now very much become a town aimed at providing drinking establishments to the younger generation rather than attractions for the families which once littered the Golden Mile and a good laugh seems few and far between these days.
Taking a stand in rejuvenating the town centre, and breaking the mold from the usual quiz and band nights we are used to, Alana-Jade and Reflections Bar have teamed up perfectly in the battle for laughter and last Thursday night witnessed the grand opening of something fresh and new, something that Blackpool has so desperately needed for so long, something that could get Blackpool back on the map in the right way.
On arrival it was hard to tell just how the night was going to go ahead. There were already people in the venue armed with drinks and Alana could be seen hosting and preparing all over the venue in an excited flurry. By the time eight o’clock had arrived, the venue was full to capacity and there were still people hoping to get in. Behind the bar the drinks were flowing and the crowds were now waiting for the first acts with high hopes of leaving a few hours later with aching sides from a highly entertaining evening.
It’s safe to say that for an incredibly reasonable £2 entry that night, the North West Comedy Collective certainly delivered the high expectations which had surrounded it since its review in The Gazette. Of course there will always be people that will leave to slip back into the regularity and familiarity of their usual routine of socialising, not many people have the patience and ability to sit and watch a variety of different artists with varying degrees of humour. However those who remained for the entirety of the whole evening were very much rewarded for doing so.
The acts that evening included artists from as close as our own home town, Rob ‘Del Terror’ and Matthew Davenport, and as far as Australia with the headlining act Angus Little, son of the famous Mark Little.
Also to grace the very cosy and atmospheric little venue were, Jack Shanik whose style has been described as ‘measured daftness and sophisticated filth’, former anarchist and award-winning comedy veteran Roland Gent, Meir Clarence Frank with his ‘distinct world view and honest philosophy’ and not forgetting Neil Shawcross, Barry Meaden, Dan Barnes, and of course Paul Warburton, all with their own very unique and side-busting styles.
Alana hosted easily between acts, keeping the crowd psyched and ready to receive their artists and by the time headliner Angus Little was ready to take Blackpool by storm the crowds were eagerly waiting for the pinnacle of the evening to make their night go out with a bang.
Angus delivered everything and more than was promised, the crowd truly felt included and part of the show with his audience interaction and quick responses to the heckles he received as if it were absolute second nature. There were tears of laughter streaming from red raw faces as he owned the venue with his incredibly natural talent to procure a laugh from even the most hard-faced characters.
It was an absolute joy to witness the start of something that Blackpool has been desperately needing for a long time now and the North West Comedy Collective are not going to be stopping there. Every Thursday at 8pm, Reflections will now host new and upcoming artists making their appearances on the scene. You can guarantee an evening of quality and excellence from its organiser, Alana, and reasonably priced drinks to boot!
Congratulations to Alana for this brilliant endeavour; a special thanks also goes to Alison and Roy for being the delightful hosts of this venue, DJ Daniel ‘Horrors’ Horrobin for the sound and PA and of course, to the artists without whom there would not have been such a successful night.
We hope to see more from the North West Comedy Collective in the future and if you haven’t already been, get yourselves down to next week’s performance. You will not be disappointed.
You can find Reflections at 131 Church Street, Blackpool. Cafe by day, bar by night. English food served 12pm-6pm, Caribbean food served 12pm-10pm.
Images by C J Griffiths Photography.
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