For those not in the know, The Glee Club (now residing in The Bullingdon following a move across town) hosts a weekly comedy night called Stand-up Saturdays. The comedians who perform there range from those who are relativity new to the scene to those who have appeared on stages far larger than the one hosting them in Oxford. The format is a quartet of comedians entertaining the audience; one as a host, the other three each performing a twenty-minute set on the intimate stage.
This evening our host was Matt Price, an approachable compère who was good at audience interaction and had some well-honed tales of comedic deeds from his past. He seemed to grow in confidence as the audience loosened up over the course of the night. I liked that he wasn't afraid to make jokes at the expense of audience members (thankfully not me) but it was never too aggressive to break the rapport he developed with us. He was also very good at getting us hyped for each act.
The first of these was the self-described 'Muslim Peter Andre' Kae Kurd. He proved a great opening act: funny, suave and charismatic, but with a lovely layer of self-deprecation. Built into his routine was a fascinating story that would probably become more extensive in a longer set. Kae is a British-Kurdish son of a refugee, whose parents fought as part of the Kurdish resistance movement in Iraq. There was a brutal honesty to his pointing out that refugees are not coming to this country because they want to visit All Bar One but instead to flee a terrible situation. His other material, predominantly about gentrification, was amusing but lacked the originality that came from his personal story.
The second act was Bec Hill, an Australian decked out in the most fabulous Space Invaders dress I've ever seen. This was the act I was most familiar with beforehand, having come across her on Twitter. She was an open and amusing performer, with a strong line in building verbally surreal images. It helped that she approached us almost as a group of her friends, beginning by teaching us the best rude gesture to do (which I've taught a few people since). Her routine took a while to build but it reached a crescendo that was the peak of the night with a fabulous reinterpretation of a very famous Edith Piaf song. One suspects that Bec Hill will become a familiar name for those who are fans of stand-up comedy and I can't wait to see where she goes next.
The final act and headliner for the evening was Paul Tonkinson. Hailing from Yorkshire but now living down south, his routine had a slickness and pace that marked him out as the headliner for the evening. His stand-up was great, built around being a father of three older teenagers. My younger brother who accompanied me felt particularly affiliated with one of his sons.
This was a Saturday night packed with laughs from a diverse group of comedians who each had a different style. What was most notable was how much their routines mostly pulled away from politics, in favour of exploring their own personal experience and identity. It certainly helped make the comedy approachable for all, with this being a fabulous way to spend a Saturday.