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Review: Seann Walsh, Central Hall
Venue: Central Hall
Supporting: Sara Pascoe, Charlie Baker
The final nail in our Freshers' Flu coffin was Sunday night's Comedy Night. Quite what possessed YUSU to cap off a week of partying, sleeplessness and kitchens that would sneeze at the mention of the word hygiene by throwing around a thousand viral vectors into a single room, I don't know.
But there we were seated, awaiting the three comedians who were in Kallum Taylor's words expected to put us 'in stitches'. Charlie Baker kicked off the show with a bang, following a less than exciting Mexican wave, which rippled meekly back and forth across the rows of Central Hall.
Baker dived straight into a mini-act filled with audience participation with one unfortunate soul forced to swear at the 300-odd people in the back-left corner. Another's seat choice was mocked, a guy sitting so far to the side he might have been mistaken for crew... Baker impressed with jazz and gave a new edge to regional stereotypes ('I've got a new combine harvester' in the style of Frank Sinatra being a particular crowd favourite) while he honed his act to the audience with jokes about swearing in jazz. He rolled out six lines of Buble while the audience looked around awkwardly, before booming "I CRIED A FUCKING RIVER OVER YOU". Only bad moment of his set? My lips will remain sealed on that one...
Walsh was gregarious, spontaneous, self-deprecating, but above all relevant. Absolutely nothing left the Freshers' tick list of comedy topics...
Sara Pascoe was next on stage taking on a audience still warm from the image of Charlie Baker's microphone penis. Nervous at first, she struggled to fend off the flatness which eventually fell around Central Hall. Much of her content was well targeted with jokes about the madness of 'under-drinking' and variations on the walk of shame (queue of shame waiting for Gregg's to open is superb). But she eventually lost the crowd's interest with an extended anecdote about her mother's communion and dieting habits, before nudging herself over the metaphorical cliff with an awkward series of lines aimed at anorexics... Not sure the majority's love of food makes them widespread laughing stock Sara. It was barely saved by turning 'easy target' into 'small target', which drew giggles from pockets of boys round the room.
The headliner hit the floor at a civilised 9 o'clock, although the debate later raged with audience members as to how long Seann Walsh was on stage before he took his leave to rapturous applause. Frankly few cared as he produced a personable and well-directed set that hit the spot time after time.
He'd done his research, kicking off with jokes about the lake, freshers' flu, and smug ducks. Walsh then skipped into a routine of self-deprecation, pulling more and more caricatures out of his Polyjuice Potionous selection - with Justin Lee Collins and a post-Gap Yah Thailand explorer bringing the strongest laughs.
From his appearance he went into fitness and activity, connecting with students who can't be bothered to get a ladder to change a light bulb, so yes that is ALL STUDENTS (or at least those who don't have a kind maintenance man to do it for them).
When he lost his way in his script he looked up and he mocked the oddly placed safety bars in Central Hall; another time he tied a joke up with a Physics student, using his initial heckle ("you've always been here") as his eventual punchline.
Walsh was gregarious, spontaneous, self-deprecating, but above all relevant. Nothing left the Freshers' tick list of exams, lecturers, sex and apathy. His cultural references, unlike the Ask Jeeves references of Pascoe's which largely went over the audience's heads (definitely not been properly used since 1995 when most of the audience were born), were spot on with Art Attack, the Fuck It philosophy and Tesco's forming central points in jokes.
Walsh produced a 5-star performance, and it was a shame that Pascoe, clearly a talented comedian, hadn't sufficiently adapted her set to suit her audience.
By the end of the evening there was only one serious piece for 2013's cohort of freshers, the repetition of which can do no harm. Vajazzle is, and always will be, brail for slag - so kids, don't go there.