Jericho comedy at the Jericho Café on Saturdays (next show 10th Feb) is run by TightFive and is a cheap way to laugh your head off whilst contributing to Oxfordshire Mind. All profits go to this worthwhile mental health charity so you get to cure the January blues and help those with the real blues. Win-win.
Olga Koch was our MC and she did a great job at whipping us into a frenzy about beans of all things, whilst paving the way for the first act of the evening, Ed Patrick. Ed is a junior doctor so we were prescribed jokes about how he hasn’t had a day off in 7 years, and how he’s not looking forward to working on Valentines Day because of all the sexual injuries he’ll have to treat. He recounted amusing anecdotes about giving x-rays to patients who came in on Halloween dressed as skeletons and a misunderstanding about glue in a rectal examination.
Next up was deep-voiced Alex Green who bemoaned the fact that all it was good for was adding unnecessary gravitas to washing powder advertisements, told us about the best day of his schooling life and compared meat-eating guilt to being the last slave owner that still had slaves.
Matt Hobs was next up with interesting facts about poor astronaut pay grades for the moon landing and to top it off, NASA deducted their accommodation costs from their paltry two figure salaries. He didn’t like it one bit when people didn’t laugh at his jokes and chalked it down to audience stupidity.
The highlight of the evening was Ashley Frieze, who described himself as Michael Buble, if Michael Buble were sponsored by Greg’s and found himself quoting Natasha Bedingfield, with hilarious effect. I was jotting down something equally funny that he was saying about Sherlock Holmes when he suddenly bellowed at me, "ARE YOU NEARLY FINISHED TEXTING, MISS?" And I had to exclaim, "I’m reviewing!" to explain my misconduct, and even though he then went bright red and he’d effectively outed me (I was trying to be discreet), it only added to the uproarious nature of his act. He’s worth checking out again.
Olga had already generated excitement about Helen Bauer (the only other female act of the night) because Helen’s cousins were in the audience so we were all suitably primed for her arrival. Helen was like the lovechild of Made in Chelsea and Bridget Jones, if a single woman in her early thirties could become impregnated by a vacuous TV show. I couldn’t tell if Helen was posh and self-absorbed the way all young people are (she enjoys drunkenly telling strangers about her childhood) or if that was the act. That said, she did have a quality that suggested longevity. I think she might make it if her act gets a bit more polished. She talked about being a mouth breather and finding out in the worst possible way, and cutting yourself a breakdown fringe. We’ve all been there.
Next up Alex Farrow's act comprised having daddy issues and an interactive bit about ice creams and being a teacher with simmering rage. He’s also part owner of the comedy production organisation TightFive that run these events and other live comedy escapades in Oxford.
Penultimate act was Daniel Roberts, who had some technical glitches and asked to be re-introduced by some guy in the audience. “But I can’t remember your name!”, the audience member implored because, unlike me, no-one else was writing down comedians' names on their phone. Daniel was unruffled. “Doesn’t matter. Introduce me however you want.” So as he ran to the back of the Jericho Café and back again to the front (a marathon 5-6 metres) the man bellowed, "HERE’S CLARE!!!!!" 'Clare' showed us funny pictures from Egyptology and did a presentation on an Australian zoo which I struggled to follow. It felt like it had been re-purposed from a different performance.
Finally, I’ll spare the name of the last comedian because he crashed and burned on stage. He was clearly preoccupied and being very self-critical and the 'tight five' minutes passed like months for him, and for us. The audience was sympathetic but he only unraveled more. Should he had just bowed out? Definitely not. It’s important to have had those nadir moments to learn how to crawl back from them. And it served as a learning moment for everyone – the show must go on, don’t be unkind when someone’s having a bad day and you can always, always fake two points higher than you feel, especially in show biz.
Olga, our MC, leapt onstage to undo any lingering tension and remind us of the night’s highlights. That girl is destined for stardom. Catch her and the others now for a fiver before they become too expensive for any of us to go and see. And who doesn’t need a few laughs to propel us into February?