After a busy week of event planning, late night meetings and moving things around, I was wondering if I was actually going to be awake enough on a Friday night to experience my first Comedy and Curry at the Shehnai Olympia Ballroom.
Walking to The Shehnai in the last remnants of snow, with not many people out on the streets (unusually for a Friday night in Reading) I was thinking that it may be quiet. The doors had opened at 7 and when we arrived there shortly after that, there already was a buzz and a warm welcome. We were given the run down of how the evening unfolds. The space is laid out cabaret style with plenty of large tables for groups and smaller tables for 2 or 4 people, in a lovely comfortable setting. Zuloo Productions are definitely a Reading based company, I recognised some of the team from other theatre events we had been to in the past year and the service they gave was professional and warm to everyone.
We found a table, although I was slightly hesitant as it was near the front, but hoping the atmospheric lighting and candles would keep us safe, but in reality I had nothing to worry about as I found out later that some audience members actively want to be "talked to" and with them being sat next to us meant I was deflected from any involvement.
On each table was a review sheet where you could give feedback on the venue, food, comedians and there is a chance you can win tickets to another evening. Do this, we struck up a conversation with a couple who had been for the first time in December after driving past and seeing the sign, had a brilliant evening and then here they were again after winning the tickets for a free evening.
There wasn't too much time left before the dividing doors were opened to reveal a plentiful "eat all you can buffet" which had a good selection of food, there was plenty enough for the now capacity crowd of 200. Amazing, the event had sold out in January, you know, the month when we are all meant to hibernate but by the end of the evening I knew exactly why. The food was tasty and you could go back for seconds, there was a brief interlude of unexpected drumming (but this was for another event happening in the building) and then dessert too.
Feeling full, relaxed and content, we were ready for a few laughs and the evening did not fail. My face ached still the next morning from a brilliant evening. The trio of comedians were very different in all their acts, Tony Cowards delivering one line puns fast and furiously, followed by Grainne Maguire who had a wonderful way of weaving a thread through her act, definitely the thinkers comedian (not that the other 2 weren't) followed in the second half by the headline act Philberto. Philberto was a non- stop laughter event, energy and bizarre-ness all rolled into a brilliant performance that also included a genius song writing moment, a comic genius of a character and there was definitely something for everyone. The host for the evening Joel Dommett was warm, engaging, funny and pulled everything together and kept us all in the mood.
Would I go again? Yes, definitely
Recommend it to friends? Immediately
Future planned dates: 15th February, 22nd March, 26th April, 24th May
Comedy and Curry, Shehnai Olympia Ballroom, 75-77 London Street, Reading RG1 4QA
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