Last Thursday, The Bridge opened its doors to its annual Freshers showcase of the best and brightest of local comedy, The Laughter Lounge. The perfect venue for such a cozy evening in with three comedy acts, The Bridge offers our brand spanking new freshers excellent views from any vantage point, with the comfy chairs and nachos on hand to match. Tonight saw MC Joe Bor grace the slightly elevated stage, along with sketch act The Birthday Girls and headliner Joel Dommet for an hour of the tippest toppest comedy these freshers have ever laid their eyes on.
At least, that’s what they were promised – a spark of hope which sadly saw its fire die out as quickly as it had begun to glimmer. Getting off to a hopeful strong start, Joe began the night with anecdotes of Jewish hereditary, marriage, and warnings against getting into a long-term relationship whilst at uni, before bouncing off the wide-eyed environmental science first years in the front row. ‘What even is environmental science?’ he pondered to the bemusement of the group, ‘uhh…like…climate change and stuff…’ one piped up. ‘So geography, you’re taking geography basically’ Joe concluded to the agreeing chuckles of the room. Amongst several other quick-witted quips, it was an undoubtedly strong start that boded well for the remaining forty-five minutes, so we can’t say we weren’t warmed up to meet the pure ineptitude that swam unashamedly through the next act.
It’s always a good sign when the night’s MC’s last words before introducing its next act are ‘and please don’t heckle these guys, be nice’. And with that he abandoned the stage to leave The Birthday Girls, made up of three gloriously sprightly women, to bounce on stage where they began their first (of three or four) dance routine of the night. It’s always a tricky one with sketch acts, as skits don’t tend to work unless you’re either on a several-camera TV show, or you’re Saturday Night Live. Performing them live on stage with some skit ideas that reek of shock-factor and stand-out-syndrome (a term I have coined to refer to ideas so phenomenally insane and shocking, they can only have been thought up in relation to the question of ‘what will get us noticed more?’) will always be a hard feat to conquer. Which, unfortunately, The Birthday Girls stayed as far away from doing as possible. Skits of the night included ‘The Great British Shit Off’ where instead of judging baking, Britain’s finest, Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood (those impressions were on point, to be fair), judged a contestant’s shits, and ‘Broccoli Puss’, which acted as an advertisement for putting a Broccoli down your trousers instead of shaving (I don’t even know, guys). It was as painful as it sounds, with the awkward chuckles from several still hopeful audience members to match. But they gave it their all, and weren’t put off by the egregious silence emanating from the audience below, so at least they’ve got that to revel in. Tenacity, yeah! Go us!
Before headline act Joel Dommet raced up on stage, good ol’ Joe returned for some more observational comedy, straying from his strong start to a more ‘crash and burn’-esque territory, much to his dismay. ‘That was a new joke, never trying that again’, he muttered after a weak ‘My wife had a six-day labour. The price of parking was insane’ hit the now straight-faced audience. After a few more mediocre attempts at humour, he began the inevitable shouts of ‘fuck you!’ to the audience. And Jesus Christ, he wasn’t even being heckled – apart from when he asked explicitly for heckles, arms wide, expectant. When the first ‘twat!’ hit him, a jaunty ‘fuck you!’ made up Joe’s return serve. Classy.
But, fortunately (oh god so fortunately), Joel Dommet was there to save the day. With an incredibly quick-witted, very clever 20 minutes, the Russell Howard’s Good News stand-up regular saved the night from completely bombing. From accusing people who cross their Z’s of being all too close to Nazism (the addition of two lines makes for a very similar emblem to Germany’s most infamous background), to once again picking on the environmental science group in the front row, to an anecdote about the sex-noises of his roommate which sound all too similar to a phone on vibration mode – before re-enacting the very scenario to the big belly laughed approval of the audience. Before meandering off stage, Joel picked on one fresher several rows back, asking what he studied – ‘acoustic science’ came the timid response, ‘what the fuck is that?’, ‘uh…looking at stuff that vibrates, basically’ – and with that, bent over laughing, his set gone full-circle, Joel bid his goodnight to the roaring applause of the audience.
A mixed night, to say the least, it was unclear as we wandered out of The Bridge if Joe had managed to sell any of his homemade T-shirts he was selling for a whopping ten quid, or if anyone managed to follow him on Twitter as his closing statement implored the audience, already reaching for their jackets and bags, to do. But for the sake of the first fifteen minutes, and the final twenty, these Freshers left at least a little entertained, if not looking a tad apologetic at the queue of people lining up for the next show, unaware of the Broccoli Puss and the shit-in-a-bag that would be forced into their unknowing faces in the coming hour.