This triple-bill of comedy acts at the JDP in Hilda's college provided a great Friday night starter. What better way to see in the weekend! Despite the venue being perhaps not the best suited to comedy, designed as it is for music events and formal in layout and atmosphere, the night was a success and the student-heavy audience seemed to enjoy themselves.
Each half was started with a warm-up from Glenn Moore, who gave a polished and coherent set each time. His affable nice-boy charm, if rather omnipresent in the current world of comedy, is engaging and his jokes are well constructed and well delivered. His use of callbacks is particularly impressive, continually revisiting previous jokes to draw the audience in and create a sense of conversation and safety. He is perfectly suited to being a warm-up act; he fosters a matey connection with the audience with apparent ease, preparing us to welcome the acts that he introduces with warmth and laughter. He did remind us of the ground rules before both acts: 'no heckling, be nice etc' (ok Mum). I liked this; as well as fitting in well with the formal setting, it reminded us that the people on stage are people too - kindness and love is always the best policy!
Shelf, who came first, is a comedy duo made up of Rachel and Ruby. They have a wonderful 'chalk and cheese' style rapport, with very obvious background of friendship on which to draw their comedy. Their "sketch" set is varied in both style and content; it involves some (only three they tell us) sketches, but also stories from their lives, quizzes, and silly skits. Everything they do is organic and fresh; it's the perfect balance between when a couple of your friends retell a funny thing that happened to them around a table at the pub, and a fast-paced, slick script. I loved the 'loveheart' sketch in particular, which involved Rachel stuffing an entire packet of strong mints in her mouth and then delivering her final line through mints and dribbles: an impressive feat. Their inside jokes are presented with such warmth that the audience is given permission to join in with their friendship: they let us in to their lives, flaunting their flaws and thus showcasing their qualities. Their honesty encourages laughing along and their comic timing ensures it.
The last act was Three Men in a Boot, who show some promise. Their set was full of energy and confidence. I hope in the future they avoid using pepper for the 'ashes' they spread all around the auditorium as the coughing and sneezing which ensued for the whole of the rest of their set was quite distracting and unpleasant. I also think they would benefit from a closer look at the punch lines of their sketches. It is so important to know exactly who you are laughing at in comedy, and Three Men in a Boot didn't seem to always know this, since they repeatedly 'punched down' - making jokes at the expense of people in positions of less privilege than them. Self-awareness is so important in comedy! It was a shame in a group with potential; they do have a good onstage spark.
Overall: a fun night had by all, with room for improvement but also praise.