Marissa's Manchester Comedy Festival Diary - The Lass O'Gowrie - 25th Oct

Lee Fenwick has stepped out onto the comedy stage in many different incarnations since he started out. But none have been as beautifully crafted as Mick Sergeant, the long term unemployed shipbuilder from Tyneside whose wife has left him. Ok, so writing that sentence I'm aware that it doesn't sound like the proverbial barrel of laughs but that's the beauty of the character, for every laugh Fenwick creates there's a bittersweet pang of pathos too.

The latest show tells where he's at years after losing his job... and that's well... still unemployed. Though not his fault the job centre will insist on sending him to any old job interview as the short film at the top of the show indicates. But he's not defeated, Sergeant's not about to retrain as a plumber like his mates just yet and replace the pictures of ships they used to build with pictures of a gas boiler. After all he's got his new career as a stand up to concentrate on. The bitterness may seep through the comedy though - aimed largely at his ex-wife Donna and her new lover, the shedless (lost in a mysterious fire...) chemist Arthur. But elsewhere in his life he's exercising – he displays his push ups on stage - and he's writing a Roald Dahl tribute the Big Friendly Shipbuilder. Plus there's his regular diary entries, albeit inspired somewhat by Apocalypse Now.

It's a brilliant portrayal and one that has, quite rightly, garnered him acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe and indeed was one of the comedy previews in this week's Guardian Guide. I don't want to give too much away as much of this work is sheer poetry but a favourite line has to be that his wife Donna was going to pick up her stuff in a van but as most of it was hers 'she stayed in the house and the van took me away instead.' All plaudits are truly well deserved.

The show was in The Lass O'Gowrie's upstairs room, another venue with plenty of festival shows. There are several little spaces tucked away in the old Victorian pub playing host to a variety of shows and events at this year's festival and in the rest of the year too. Tonight there was a monster quiz going on in the main bar (as part of the Science Festival), retro computer games in the parlour plus mind reading and comedy upstairs. In fact I'm back tomorrow for the Lass' competition final.

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