The Amused Moose Laugh Off Final, as one might expect, was a one-off chance to see some of the comedians of tomorrow battle it out for the prestigious prize of £1500 and a moose statuette. Hosted by Chris Martin, the two-hour afternoon slot featured the six best-but-not-quite-successful-yet funny-makers that Amused Moose could offer – all coincidentally white males between the ages of 20 and 30, as lampshaded by Martin. Each comic had ten minutes to wow the crowd, who would then score them out of nine.
Angus Dunican was our first competitor and proved a high energy, high content performer prepared to fully commit to any joke. He wasn’t afraid to use the whole stage in moments of physical comedy and while some of his material was less than stellar, his punchlines generally made up for it. I was surprised to see him left out of the top three – perhaps the fact his opening slot ensured him a cooler crowd played against him in the voting. He was followed by Sean Conan, whose slightly nasal delivery made his set a bit of an endurance event. His ten minutes exuded more pity than pith, yet despite this he managed to wangle one of the runner up spots.
Alistair Williams produced a borderline offensive set that never really got off the ground, relying on rape jokes, Steve Irwin and a semi-ironic cry of ‘fuck the homeless’. Steve Bugeja’s extended narrative about a food festival went down well, crossing the line twice in terms of predictability but his timid demeanour didn’t always work in his favour comedically. Alex Smith lent some sartorial style to proceedings, looking like he’d stepped straight out of Brixton in the 50s to wow us with his musical musings and mockery.
Pierre Novellie was by far and away the stand-out stand-up and earned his first place gong with a series of jokes that brought together racial perceptions from Britain and South Africa in a faintly satirical dig at national identity. Before he was awarded his prize, Lloyd Langford delivered twenty minutes or so of highly polished material, like a glimpse of things to come from those we had already seen. Certainly the event showed us a few names to look out for over this and coming Fringes, if also some to avoid.