[A review from our friends at the Spayne and Spigwell Advertiser]
Last night, to Jesting Pilates health and comedy club, the latest venture from local entrepreneur and serial bankrupt, Ruth Benbow.
Falling painfully between two stools and embarrassingly ripping its leotard, this promises to be another failed dream.
The appeal of fusion, as an idea at least, is obvious: take two popular trends and combine them in one setting, thus doubling attendance and revenue at a stroke. Well, up to a point. Experience suggests this rarely works in any setting, even combining two cultures in one field. Seventies classical/rock band Sky were very successful for a while, but with a predominantly middle-of-the-road audience, rather than fans of Led Zep or Roy Phil. And though fusion restaurants can entice people with the novelty of spaghetti con carne or haggis biriyani dim sum, they usually find most diners drift back to their favourite single ethnicity eateries.
So will a comedy and fitness club attract laughter lovers to press-ups and fitness freaks to stand-ups? Or will each aspect alienate those who don’t already do both anyway? On the evidence of the opening night, even with free food and wine, the prospects are not good for Ms Benbow tempting many locals in Lycra from Badger Hill’s No Spayne No Gayne health centre, nor, unless she features some quality acts, getting the audience from the already poorly attended comedy nights at the Birchwode Centre (which did once feature Paddy McGuinness) to spend even more of their meagre dosh.
The grand opening event featured the fitness part of the club but provided most of the comedy. It began with a fanfare by members of the Spayne and Spigwell Silver Band, mounted on an array of exercise bikes. The accompanying formation routine on treadmills by Wyberton’s own Dis-Placement dance troupe was certainly entertaining, if not quite as intended, and at least the falls and collisions that brought it to a premature close gave Ms B a chance to show off her physiotherapy suite.
The official comedy part of the evening was compered by the ever unpopular Mike Open, and the bill was topped, if that’s the word, by Spayne’s celebrity son, Jolly Jim ‘As Seen on TV’ Jardine — though being escorted from the audience of Live at the Apollo by security guards for obscenely heckling Frankie Boyle is a slender claim to national exposure. Despite all the worries (and the welcome extra frisson of expectation they brought), he did manage to keep his set unusually family-friendly, while keeping it familiarly funny-free.
If your reviewer could offer one piece of advice to Ms Benbow for future enterprises, it would be not to let obscure references be the sole motivation for her ideas. It must have been as satisfying to discover and tweak the ‘Jesting Pilate’ quote (which Yours Truly admits having to google), as it was when she came up with her cake and pizza shop Il Gateau Pardough. But once the self-satisfied giggling has subsided, it’s time to step back and think again before jumping in with both feet, and eyes closed.
Yes, the title of this review runs with the same theme, but at least it is explained here (if you’ve had a quick google) and not crucial to my career [want a bet? Ed.]; and how many of the attendees on Friday will have known why the only nibbles were tiny bacon sandwiches?
In the immortal words of Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday: Look it up!
I’m not waiting for an aswer.