Teignmouth is beautiful. I’ve loved it since I was a young boy and our parents would take us swimming in the summer holidays at the outdoor Lido over the wall from the railway platform. Just along the seafront is Pavilions, the newish entertainment venue that replaced the old Carlton Theatre.
It was here that we came on Friday night for the long-anticipated opening night of Charlie Baker’s 24 Hour Pasty People comedy tour. I feel as though I know Charlie because he is a polite recipient and replier to my ramblings on Twitter and his National Obsession podcast, although in person we have only ever exchanged a quick: “Alright?” on a couple of away terraces.
Our pre-match meal would have been no good for him. The second half of his show is based around his explosive realisation that he is gluten intolerant. To cut a long story short, a trip to Cornwall for a beach holiday was marred by a bowel incident that would have put Surfers Against Sewage onto full alert! My brother-in-law and his partner had suggested a bit of supper at Rock Bottom- a venue considerably more trendy than my norm selling an interesting range of Asian-inspired food. We discovered that Bahn Mi is Vietnamese for “Baguette”. They started eating these in Saigon just as the French were getting kicked out in the 1950’s. Mine was filled with deep fried soft shell crab and some exciting red chillis: it was an exotic start to an evening which was much more Devon-themed and down to earth.
Charlie started with a lovely bit of audience participation, getting members of the audience including Ben Currie, Rob Birkett and the legend that is Jules Nixon up on stage for a re-working of “Uncle Tom Cobley”. Being a Paignton boy, brought up in Foxhole, I really appreciated that. The Tom Cobley (long since transformed into a Co-op) had been my Dad’s local and I could have had a good stab at singing the original lyrics. Luckily I was not called upon. Jules got stuck in though, and treated us to a Half Monty as he revealed Full White Kit under his street clothes.
Charlie knows his audience very well, and offered us a very early comfort break after about 20 minutes. I queued for a beer with Jules, and he confirmed that- as you may have seen online- getting out of trousers whilst standing on stage is not as easy as you might think. He had in fact spent several minutes with kecks around ankles and we decided that “next time” he was going to invest in some of those fancy velcro strides you can rip off with a flourish.
The second half (about an hour) saw Charlie really warm to his task. For an audience heavily featuring locals, his school friends and a couple of rows of Torquay Talkers, it was meat and drink.
In no particular order, he cast his eye over life in the countryside, tall blokes who love to point it out, fox hunting (I don’t think he’s a fan), the Dyrons Disco and, er, Sex with Owls. He had us in the palm of his hand, giving Trago Mills and posh kids with surfboards a good kicking on the way. He kept wondering aloud how he would be able to explain some of his material to the good folks of Birmingham or Salford. I’m sure he will adapt it and if there’s any justice he will go down a storm throughout the country, because he is very obviously a top bloke who is loving every minute of his burgeoning career.