Tonight I was at the Hoofers Comedy Club for the 5 minute slot challenge night. The audience had a curious gender split in that it was 90% male. Naturally the room had filled from the back, having a good crowd, but an empty front row. This was a mobile crowd with a lot of people moving about whilst acts were on, yet also it was one that whilst it laughed, consistently laughed less than one would have expected. The format was 5 minute slots and voting by cheering, with the advantage going to those favoured by running order. The MC was James Cook.
Cook was alternatively dry and sarcastic, with a natural hold over the room. Only a fool would want to heckle someone as sharp witted as Cook and there were no challengers. He received a genuine applause break for his talent and entertained the room nicely. His facial expressions added to his delivery and I found him a joy to watch. He was a definite bonus to the night and someone who I want to see more of.
Opening was Steve Jones, who gave us not so much one liners, but 2-3 liners. The audience liked some of these more than others, but he didn’t do badly. His set under ran by about a minute, which with only 5 minutes to play with wasn’t ideal. His material was fine, but he could perhaps improve his delivery, as it was a tad flat. A more buoyant delivery with the same material may yield more.
Next up was Chris Stiles, an act I’ve seen improve nicely over the last few months. He made a strong start, his psychic material is good and his pilot routine a real banker. The Nazi pope was a nice try and the milk section shows a lot of promise, but the reveal needs work. Stiles is strongest in dealing with topics that people can relate to, he delivers material on this in a way that is authentic and gets the audience’s attention. I’m looking forwards to seeing how he develops, as he definitely has ability.
Pat Robinson was on third. She opened with being an Essex girl, with a couple of jokes that were all over the place in the mid 90’s. Not bad lines, but nothing no one over 30 hasn’t heard before, or at the least a variation on them. She was on firmer ground when talking about short waiters and portion sizes. Her delivery was well paced.
Phil Reid followed, giving a very strong performance. He had a nice opening with the meaning of names, allowing him to reference people in the room and some lovely reveals on his own name. He had a slight dip when he discussed his second kid, but this was only slight. The second reveal on turning into his dad was excellent. He went with a spot of room work, which considering he opened with material gave a well rounded feel to his set. It didn’t surprise anyone when he was the eventual winner.
Elaine Ashton closed the first section. She was the only performer to delivery their material from the floor, which didn’t seem to hinder her at all. She started well, the postman joke was well received. Of the rest, some of her material worked better than other bits. Her delivery is fine, but I feel she may achieve more by swearing less and keeping the swearing back for added emphasis where it works best. She made a strong showing with the audience and didn’t have a bad night at all.
Ian Smith made a confident start, giving us a nice decoy over his voice. The material on drugs was reasonable, but may not work in every room. His routine about sign language was stronger, getting nice laughs.
James Wallace gave the audience one-liners, which were good in places, but needed work in others. He took a low energy approach, but his material wasn’t really dry enough to get the most benefit from this. The huge long list of Sky channels was ok, but took too long for the quality of reveal. He finished on a good joke.
Richard Caine didn’t seem to use his full allotment of time up. His section on Wayne Rooney was a bit predictable, but the audience laughed all the same. His part on different gender reactions to engagements was nice, but the real joy was in his sex talk material.
Eddie Harris deserved his space in the final. He made a nice start and his material on asthma is solid; his list of groups and the charity tin were very good and I liked them a lot, but for some reason he failed to get the response from the room that his material deserved. He has a nice delivery, some solid material, but tonight, although he was a finalist, his jokes deserved more than the audience seemed to give him.
Paul Henry had a decent night, although he did hold the microphone a touch too far from his mouth. The giver joke was nice and the Koran was clever, however, by far his strongest material involved The Karate Kid. This went down very well with the audience.
Lucy Thompson was an act I was very interested in seeing again. I saw her about a year ago and enjoyed what she had, so I was curious as to how she was getting on. Tonight she had a nice start, but similar to Eddie, she seemed to consistently get less from the room than her material warranted. Guess Who deserved a bigger laugh than it got and she deserved kudos for finding something different to say about internet dating. a topic I thought I’d heard everything about in the last few months. Her set was well constructed and enjoyable.
Michael Dryburgh was the third of the finalists and he demonstrated how well things are going for him at the moment. He is a comedian who has definitely moved up a gear. He received laughs for everything he said on a five minute slot that must have been tricky to edit his ten down into. It was lovely to watch him and the room really went with him, which as last act on a long night is something.