So after months of preparation, Saturday night saw Oxjam’s first fundraising event of the summer: HAHA comedy night at the Soup Kitchen in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. After leaving promotion of the event fairly late due to problems with designers, we were all a little nervous as to whether the event would be a success and sell out. Turns out, we had nothing to worry about! We all got down there early to set up and do some last minute preparations. With the venue looking sufficiently pimped out with Oxjam merchandise and bar staff at the ready, we opened the doors. Within no time at all the venue was packed out and much to our relief, all the comedians had turned up!
Our compere for the evening was Rich Wall – a young guy who regularly co-hosts a comedy night in Stockport, he was surprisingly insightful and really at ease in the spotlight. He cracked out some blinding one liners and managed to really engage the crowd, getting them ready for the first act. The first of our comedians on stage was Sol Bernstein – described by another of the comedians as ‘the Jewiest Jew that ever Jewed’ he’s a legend on the comedy circuit and creation of London comic Steve Jameson. His decidedly old school approach to comedy went down perfectly with the crowd – he brought comedy back to a time when it was all about the gag and didn’t once feel the need to be ‘politically correct’. Plenty of quick, spiky insults were hurled at those in the front row (much to the dismay of my friends who I’d forced to sit there!), but in a time-honoured fashion they were always diffused with an equally insincere compliment – ‘Honestly darling, you’re beautiful’ – before moving on to his next target.
After a roaring applause from the crowd, Sol left the stage and we stopped for a short break, which mainly consisted of me whizzing round the room with a raffle book trying to prize as much money from our audience’s pockets as possible! I think I was fairly successful. After the break we had another 5 minutes from Rich before our second comedian of the night, Neil Bradbury, came on stage. Neil is a fairly new comedian to the circuit, having only really performed at student gigs he was the least experienced of all the acts on the night. However, despite this inexperience he had an extremely endearing quality to his comedy – his nervous shaking was cleverly utilised into a joke about his ‘essential tremor’ along with comments about his distinctly posh southern accent and sickening urge to punch babies faces. His observational comedy was extremely well informed and he’s definitely one to watch for the future.
Next on stage was a late addition to the bill, Dominic Elliot Spencer. From the start of his set his insightful comments about the media’s portrayal of young black men were second to none; ‘This may come as a surprise to some of you but no, I don’t like chicken, 2. I can’t run fast and 3. I don’t have a big willy…oh who am I kidding, I love chicken!’ His cheeky smile, infectious laugh and animated delivery (especially a very effective girlie shriek) made him an instant crowd pleaser.
After another short break we returned for the final and headlining act for the night, Matt Tiller. Matt has drummed up a good following over the years through his online comedy songcasts on YouTube, frequent blogging and Edinburgh shows and I was really looking forward to seeing what he had to offer. His act basically consists of him playing the guitar and offering a running commentary of awkward social situations he has encountered over the years, through rhyming lyrics and relatively catchy bridges. Tiller has a very easy manner and a deal of charisma, but no real material to speak of – after ten minutes of bad strumming and stories about rotten Plymouth hotels I found my attention span faltering and decided to take pictures of the crowd instead. There’s nothing not to like about this guy, he’s extremely nice and easy going – I just don’t think he’s that funny yet. However despite this, he still seemed to go down fairly well with the crowd and managed to get one poor lad from Bolton up on stage reciting his lyrics.
All in all the night was a roaring success, the raffle went down a treat and all the comedians were on top form. As organisers it was great to see everyone having such a brilliant time and made all the hard work well and truly worth it. We managed to raise in excess of £500 on the night, which is an amazing achievement for all of those involved and goes towards helping a great cause. So from the whole Oxjam Manchester team, we would just like to say a massive thank you to everyone who attended or contributed to this night – we couldn’t have done it without you!
If you want to find out more about Oxjam please visit www.oxfam.org.uk/oxjam or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/OxjamManchester. Please also stay tuned for more info about our up and coming fundraising events this summer…we’ve got some cracking events lined up for you all!