SUSAN Calman, star of her own BBC Radio 4 series Calman Is Convicted, is yet to decide on the title of her new live show.
For now, as she stocks up material for her York gig in City Screen’s Basement on Tuesday, she is calling it a Work In Progress gig.
“I’m going to be touring around the UK in the autumn,” says the 4ft 11in Scottish comedian. “I’d like to make sure that I’m appropriately prepared for such an undertaking, so I’m embarking on what is called a ‘work in progress’ tour.
“Basically I want to try things out on you. The benefits of this are that you get to see things that, in all probability, no one will ever see again. For good reason I suspect.”
Stage one of her preparations for her full-scale tour is this month’s 60-minute untitled warm-up. “The shows are in small venues, so I can see the whites of your eyes, with cheaper tickets, so we have more money for booze, and hopefully they’ll be a lot of fun.”
What can York expect from ex-lawyer Susan on Tuesday night?
“Come and see me work some material through,” she says. “I’m definitely going to try and do some dancing in at least one of the shows. I know. What a treat.”
Hyena Lounge Comedy Club promoter Toby Clouston-Jones is steadily stacking up Work In Progress shows.
“That’s one of the things I’m really pleased to have established here,” he says. “We’ve had shows by the likes of Mark Thomas, Russell Howard, Sarah Millican and Robert Newman, and now we have Susan Calman, who’s never toured before and never done York before. Previously, she’s just done Scotland and the Soho Theatre in London.”
Toby’s new season of tour shows opens in the Basement on Sunday night with Gary Delaney’s Purist show.
“Gary Delaney is a razor-sharp one-liner comedian, who’s becoming widely regarded as being the most quotable comic in the country – and he’s just married Sarah Millican,” says Toby.
“His show Purist was a big hit at the Edinburgh Fringe last summer, selling out every night, and Gary is now embarking on his debut UK tour with this show.”
As announced in What’s On last Thursday, Paul Sinha has added an extra date to his self-explanatory Paul Sinha Is A Stand-Up Comedian tour, appearing in The Basement on January 26.
“I’m many, many things,” says Paul, alias The Sinnerman on ITV’s tea-time quiz The Chase. “I’m a brother, a doctor, a Gemini, a sports fanatic, a godparent, a proud quiz geek and, according to Jim Davidson, ‘an Indian poof’, but first and foremost I’m a stand-up comedian.”
The Chase could influence who attends Sinha’s gig.
“It’ll be interesting to see who comes,” says Toby. “I very much doubt it’ll be our usual comedy crowd, but he’s actually a brilliant comedian with very topical, punchy jokes. Those who think he’ll just do a quiz will be in for quite a shock, so it’s good he’s doing a tour.”
Josie Long and Robin Ince will be joined by a special guest, singer-songwriter Grace Petrie, who will provide musical interludes in their Shambles show on January 27. Expect Ince to do material from his new project, The Dirty Book Club.
“It will be a very intimate show; a show that they’re not doing at many places,” says Toby. “They’re hand-picking venues and luckily we’re one of them.”
Hal Cruttenden will play his re-scheduled Tough Luvvie date on February 4. “Tough Luvvie is his new show, and Hal is basically the next Michael McIntyre: very middle class, very middle England, obsessing about the minutiae of life,” says Toby.
“We’re lucky he’s honouring his postponed November show now, when he’s going to be the next big thing in comedy. I really think he’ll be exactly that – and he’s got the same management as Micky Flanagan, who played to 32 people the first time he came here and was playing the Grand Opera House for several nights by the end of the same tour.”
Joe Lycett previewed his 2013 Edinburgh Fringe show, If You Lycett, Put A Ring On It, in the Basement last summer. “He’s now one of comedy’s bright young things, so let’s see how he does this time,” says Toby, who has booked Lycett for February 10. “The show’s changed quite a lot since he first did it here.”
Yorkshireman Tom Wrigglesworth’s gig on February 17 is selling well already, on the back of his 6.30pm slot on BBC Radio 4 when he conducts imaginary phonecalls with his family in Tom Wrigglesworth’s Hang-Ups.
Red Dwarf star Norman Lovett returns to York on February 23 with his new show. “Norman’s gone upmarket. He used to do a slide presentation with a projector; now he’s upgraded to an iPad,” says Toby.
Further bookings are sketch group Wittank on February 25; Scottish humorist and chef Hardeep Singh Kholi, doing his “first proper touring show” – and cooking for Toby while he is here – on March 3; followed by Jo Caulfield on March 9 and ex-MTV presenter Joel Dommett, on his first tour on March 10.
Toby will be running his regular Saturday Night Lounge shows too, including Dan Nightingale and Jason Cook this weekend. Shows start at 8pm; box office, hyenalounge.com or on the door from 7pm.