ANYONE stumbling upon the studio space at Live Theatre on Thursday night could have been forgiven for thinking a Bucks Fizz reunion was on the cards.
Four mics stood in a line, each with its very own brightly coloured fuzzy cover, looking for all the world like they were just waiting to having Making Your Mind Up sung into them.
Thankfully though, this was nowhere near the case.
The microphones were waiting for a cast of comedy writers and performers to reveal and record the sketches they’d been honing since the launch of Jesting About, a collaborative project between the BBC and Northern Film and Media (NFM), aimed at unearthing new laugh-making talent.
Not that there wasn’t some established talent on the bill.
Teesside actor Mark Denton was front and centre with Geordie counterparts Joe Caffrey and Laura Norton, helping to bring the words on the page to life. He was joined by long-standing stand-ups, Geordie Gavin Webster and Scotsman, John Scott; as well as relative newcomers, Holly Burn, Rob Gilroy and Nitin Kundra.
Some of the line up had written some of what was on the scripts in their hands.. meanwhile some of the writers were watching from the live audience.
Friends Dave Metcalf, Jamie McLeish and Andrew Kirkwood, from Sunderland, who list civil servant and accountancy as their respective day jobs, were all in the front row, waiting to hear their sketches performed to an audience for the first time.
“It was pretty nerve-wracking,” said 36-year-old Jamie, “but great to hear the laughter.”
These sketches, which included one called Double Your Meat and another involving a cosmetic surgery-obsessed vet, were among the very funny collection of material produced by the project, launched by Bob Mortimer (of Vic and Bob fame) at the end of last year.
We also heard from characters such as a bitter hot air balloon guide, a man on a Geordie Safari, a Geordie folk singer, a private detective, a protest singer from the west country and the unnerving curator of Tyneside’s Memorabilia Museum (aka an underground toilet). But this is really just a small selection.
To hear them all in their recorded glory, you’ll have to tune into BBC Radio Newcastle on May 2 when the half hour sketch show will be broadcast.
Mark, probably best known for his role alongside Robson Green in the ITV1 Northern Lights series, as well as the Nationwide adverts and his continuing role in BBC1’s Waterloo Road said: “The whole day has been great. Tiring...but great fun.
“It’s quite exciting when you don’t know what you’re doing until you get here, and of course you never really know how something’s going to go down until you do it in front of an audience, but they seemed to like it.”
Emmerdale actress, Charlie Hardwick certainly seemed to. She was laughing loudly throughout... particularly during the sketch involving an imagined Geordie TV Generator (you’ll have to hear it to fully appreciate it).
Although sketch comedy isn’t something Mark does a lot of, he thought it was important to get involved.
“These kind of projects are really important. There’s such a lot of talent in the North East and it doesn’t often have an outlet, which is a real shame. This area has such a specific kind of humour, it’s great to be able to let people hear it.”