Last Monday, The Cube transformed its regular Union Film-y type vibe into a place fit for some of the biggest, best, and most quickly accelerating acts in the comedic stratosphere – in particular, Laughter Lounge regular Phil Jerrod, improv sketch act The Noise Next Door, and hotly anticipated headliner Sara Pascoe. Merry from pints, ciders, and popcorn from The Bar upstairs, freshers and uni veterans alike swarmed in, some rushing down stairs to get a seat on the front row in the hopes of being picked on by their beloved comic heroes, some meandering to the middle to secure the best view in the house, each ready for some of the best stand-up to grace The Cube’s set-up, red velvet-esque stage.
Kicking off the night’s entertainment, MC Phil Jerrod flew on stage with double the energy of any of these freshers (an admirable feat) before declaring his dissatisfaction with the far more sparse-appearing energy levels of his audience. Undeterred, in fact, probably spurred on, he proceeded to run up the back of the chairs through his baffled audience and made his entrance again, to the far more booming welcome of the crowd. And so, the night officially began.
Warming up the crowd with stories of rapping the Fresh Prince theme song to a bunch of unknowing academics, a multitude (one, two, eight too many) of fat jokes, and numerous Mexican waves, his set was basically a near-perfect template of an excellent opening act. Bringing a wary audience member sat front-centre to sit on stage, who did fantastically well considering (“I feel like I’m having a midlife crisis” he languished, easily stealing the chuckles from Phil himself), Phil really began to shine as an individual comic as he warned his audience against taking a film degree as it transpired that both him and his new, cross-legged prodigy were of the Film and Philosophy bachelor’s degree variety. Warm, quintessential, reeking of small-town amusement; Phil was everything an opening act should and could be without stealing the show, which, coincidentally, is what the next act very nearly did.
Within ten minutes of The Noise Next Door’s, a five-piece improv sketch act, set, it became pretty much unprecedently clear that these boys should be a headline act in their own right. Immediately, brazenly, a little intimidatingly charismatic, they delved headfirst into their set with a sweet little song about a clown-focused prostitution business run by Donald Trump (all suggestions from members of the audience – if that doesn’t say a little about the Uni Of’s students, I don’t know what does). With an innumerable amount of sketches that were not only reminiscent of the lovely Whose Line Is It Anyway, but actually were performed a lot better, not one of these guys were unfunny, and not one moment of their set acted as any kind of lowpoint. A particularly memorable sketch came in the form of improv derived from an audience member’s phone, where one of the guys could only speak in lines from a certain conversation of that phone. Inextricably in depth discussions about friendship, sponges, and boob selfies inevitably ensued. And having restored my faith in group-acts after last week’s cataclysmic laughter lounge, thank god these guys are heading on tour in a few months – complete with a Southampton date.
And so, after a short interval, and many a begrudging Mexican wave, our eagerly awaited headliner bounced on stage to the roaring applause of the crowd. “I just want to say, you’re such a lovely audience, so lovely and nice” Sara Pascoe intoned, before moving seamlessly into her set. A set, and I say this with the heaviest of hearts, idling a little too much towards the realm of the disappointing. Whether due to the outstanding, show-stopping set of her predecessors, or the fact the majority of her set was made up with repeating the jokes of her Animal tour and recent television appearances, or the fact her set was frustratingly miles away from as long as a headline act should be, and normally is, I don’t know. Still, despite the astringent lack of belly-laughs to accompany her half an hour set, hearty chuckles and earnest snickers made themselves known in their abundance as Sara’s awkward stage-persona shone through. Her tangents and side-stories taking the spotlight, and anecdotes about Paloma Faith, handjobs, and electric toothbrushes being used for a definitely-not-electric-toothbrush-y purpose (cue suggestive eyebrow wiggle and elbow nudges) played with the funny-bones of the audience, and left them more than satisfied.
Sara left to the tune of a raucous applause, before the audience began to collect their bags and jackets and started to dissipate, meandering out of the door of The Cube and up the stairs into the biting cold of evening with nothing but gleeful smiles plastered on their faces. And one thing’s for sure, after Monday night none of us will ever look at clowns, electric toothbrushes, and certainly not boob selfies, the same way again.