All the Fun of the Unfair

‘You’ve come on a weird night. This isn’t the actual show.’ This warning, as soon as I entered the pub’s back-room, was a fair one. While the real total was somewhat below the ‘thousand acts’ I had prepared for, nine comics and a compere is still too many people to shoe-horn into an hour. Nevertheless, it remained an evening of great humour and impressive energy, to which the ridiculous time-pressure no doubt contributed.Compering was Patrick Taplin, an appropriately confident young man, albeit with some slightly predictable material, who took a bold amount of time pouring and drinking wine. His indulgence was, however, quickly curtailed by the sheer speed at which he had to bring on his acts.Pete Starr opened with some mildly unsafe and fun material. His impressively long build-up to an opening joke did pay off well, and the concept of drugs golf, recalled at the close, made for an entertaining and surprisingly well structured short set. Jack Barry followed with some good punnage, and a charming line about Google, which had already been doing the rounds. His Best Joke of the Fringe is also worth hearing. His poetry, however, is a touch obvious.Hugh Morro’s confused Spanish comic was a real treat, bringing the audience entirely on-side. His three ‘racist’ jokes are essentially old Spanish name puns, but they are so laboriously explained as to make them fresh again. The best laughs of the whole night. Some of this energy was allowed to slip by Chris Quail, who began by alienating his audience and proceeded to deliver some quite crude material. Nothing very offensive, though, and he still got his laughs. Henry Perrymont too, did not really have his crowd behind him, and his loose, somewhat flat material let him down. The tone was raised again by David Head, although he perhaps took too much time delivering the meat of his jokes to obtain the full reward for their humour. Jonathan Elston wins the award for quickest and most comprehensive loss of audience support, and was in real danger of dissipating the energy of the evening. I liked geriatric fight club as an idea, but no one really went with him, and his material on dating a seventeen-year-old was simply awkward to listen to. Only in his case did the three minute time-slots seem a benefit. This left Wit Tank’s Kieran Boyd with a bit of a dead room, as Taplin had run out of time to flex his compering muscles, and as a result he did not get the response he deserved for some great, clever and inoffensive material.Tommy Houlgate, the first grown man in the line-up, with the largest hair, came the closest to anti-comedy. He used his tiny slot to reel off a sequence of words beginning with the different letters of the alphabet, before throwing himself sideways onto the floor. Truly bizarre. Finally, Richard Hanrahan, also a proper adult who looks a little like a bearded hamster, ended with some energetic but low-level comedy, bringing the gig up short. He was not, I think, the right person to end the show, and his closing material was frankly plagiarised.All told, a somewhat loose, very frenetic and pretty enjoyable evening.

The Blurb

Four exciting new acts doing an hour of brilliant stand-up for free. Fair on you. Unfair on us. 'Accomplished stuff' (Scotsman). 'Thoroughly enjoyable' (Sun). 'Great stuff' (Three Weeks).