THE rules are simple. Wannabe comics get just five minutes to take the stage and impress an audience with their wit and humour. Unfortunately, only the very best will complete their allotted time, because audience members can ‘red card’ those acts that struggle to raise a titter.
The format draws a combination of amateur performers and complete tyros who have never been onstage in their life. It’s obvious that the nearest some of the comics have been to a microphone is a hand-held hairbrush in front of the bedroom mirror. Agonizing enough, but add to this the anticipation as the red cards start to show, and the pressure is really on.
Master of Ceremonies Chris Conroy does a sterling job, keeping the buzz going and encouraging the audience to be heartless, repeating the slogan ‘Bring on the misery’.
There follows a procession of the good the bad and the downright atrocious.
But this was more than just a fun show in which the audience gets to play at being judges on the X-Factor. The organisers regard it as a Comedy Academy. If you have a dream of being a stand-up comic, then try your hand. But if you can’t cut the mustard, you’ll know before your five minutes are up. And it hurts.
On an entertainment level it works, and works well. Eleven comics battled to capture the attention of the audience, and only four managed to last the full time. Others were ordered off by the audience after only a few minutes, and a couple barely lasted 30 seconds. Yes, it can be brutal.
But when you think of it, that’s almost a dozen acts for about the price of a bottle of beer. It’s even better value when you realise that you could be seeing the future stars of the comedy circuit. 18-year-old Scott Laird proved that he was more than up to the challenge, delivering a stunningly good set of quick-fire gags.
Emerging as the winner, he now goes onto the final, when winning acts will once again put themselves at the mercy of the audience for the big “Gong Off” on August 26.
Next round: July 26. Final: August 26