For me, the most enjoyable element of a live stand-up comedy show, besides the humour, is that the interactions between the host, comedians, and the audience can most likely never be recreated again; you are part of something unique for a few hours. And concerning the most recent Stand-Up Saturday at The Bullingdon, I have to add interactions with the physical venue in the mix as well.
The Saturday night audience saw Jonnie Price, Jim Smallman, and Keith Farnan take the stage, hosted by Carly Smallman (is she distantly related to Jim?). It was nice to get a variety of stage personas and jokes ranging from self-deprecation, to poking fun at audience members, to criticising the political state of the world. Host Carly Smallman effortlessly warmed up the audience; with a hen party and stag party occupying the first two rows, the jokes wrote themselves. While her use of profanities directed towards the mothers of the bride and groom were uncomfortable to witness, she incorporated memorable segments on the plights of online dating and was clearly comfortable interacting with the audience and making fun of herself. I would like to see her full routine in the future.
Jonnie Price's jokes focused on bodies and bathrooms. He began by poking fun at his own physique and Topman sizing with the oxymoronic 'XXXL slim fit' shirt. Most of his jokes after that incorporated personal narratives featuring overflowing bubble baths, food poisoning, and lack of toilet rolls. I would have liked for Price to venture out of the tub and toilet and include more humour from other realms, but if that is his trademark then he stuck to it well.
Jim Smallman called on past stories of his schoolteacher days and then pre-teen daughter. He engaged the teachers of the audience in a discussion of whether students should know the teacher's first name, and told us how he tricked his classes into thinking his name was many other J-names except for Jim or James. Some of Smallman's punchlines forced you to think one step ahead to understand the humour, which had a satisfying comedic effect once you saw the audience's staggered laughter as it clicked. Much of the set focused on his daughter, but more so with cute stories rather than jokes. However, you can tell he is a proud dad and he successfully highlights the comedic bits of these family stories.
Keith Farnan was the final act and seemed to be the most comfortable on stage. In contrast to the previous comedians, he made fun of himself to a lesser degree and dedicated his time to bigger topics: Brexit, Trump, Russia, and homophobia. This is the type of humour I had expected to encounter at the event, but the punchlines were original; in mixing world topics with unexpected jokes, Farnan had, in my opinion, the funniest set. The highlight of the night was when a wire above the stage became unraveled just as Farnan was addressing how some day God would smite him during a set; the timing could not have been any better. This wire immediately drew the audience together in a debate of whether Farnan should touch it or not, and allowed him to exhibit spontaneous humour, which was just as good as his rehearsed material.
Overall, the evening was not consistently laugh-out-loud hilarious compared to shows with more famous names in American and British comedy that I have grown accustomed to, but for a small venue in Oxford it was an enjoyable way to spend a Saturday night. I am glad that there was a mix of delivery styles and a range of topics employed as comedic focal points; it would have been easy for everyone to make the same quips about hen parties and Brexit but this was not the case.