‘Funny’s funny, except when it’s not’ seems to be the general message of this compilation show. Supposedly a showcase for the best up-and-coming female comedians nationwide, several of the short stand-up routines fell flat. Amy Howerska, the compere for the night, faltered several times when trying to seed a rapport with the audience, as her fairly cliché questions about internet dating fell on stony ground. A later bit on Alan Bennett plays should have been scrapped the moment it became clear - after another less than enthused response to a question - that most of the audience had never heard of him. Howerska has her moments, but there’s no consistency to her compering. It disrupts rather than improves engagement with the show as a whole.
The comedians she introduces are a similarly mixed bag. Sarah-May Philo, the headline act that evening, was by far and away the best woman on stage and provided welcome relief after some pitiable performances. Unfortunately, Philo’s success only demonstrated more clearly what was missing from the routines of Rachel Sambrooks and Karina Brisby: timing, pacing, a sense of structure and a large helping of charisma. Anna Freyberg suffered from being first on, and might have been better received in a later slot with a warmed-up audience - her T-shirt humour was sweetly awkward and her routine original, if lacking a definite punchline. The Underdogs were the most prepared act, showcasing sketch rather than stand-up, and their brand of surreal parody proved slick and effective. It was unsurprising when it emerged that they and Philo had their own shows; only they could hold an audience’s attention for long enough. The line-up of the showcase changes night to night, so it might be really funny – but not fantastic.