Shit, we’re old.
We didn’t think we were, but it turns out we are. Okay, not exactly, but in comparison to the entrants at this Chortle Student Comedy Award heat, we might as well have arrived on a couple of penny-farthings.
We’re sipping a non-alcoholic beverage in the basement of Koh Tao in Fallowfield, eager to find out if the next Lloyd Langford, Joe Lycett or Jamali Maddix is about to take to the stage.
Regular audience members are outnumbered by acts tonight, which means our usual skulking at the back routine doesn’t work. Instead, MC Katie Mulgrew cheerfully insists we sit at the front, hatching a devious plan to highlight our comparative oldness still further.
Despite the small crowd, it’s exciting to be here. Browse a list of the finalists from previous years and there will be many names you recognise. Maybe one day we’ll be smugly telling people we were at this gig?
That’s not an unrealistic prospect given some of the acts on display here. For what it’s worth, we’ve picked out the five acts we liked best and listed them in no particular order.
Our top 5
Takes the lovable loser character and makes it his own, with tales of lost love, teenage misfortune and a quite astonishing feat of memory (we fact-checked it later, it’s pretty impressive) that get some of the biggest laughs of the night. He reminds us of James Acaster or Steve Bugeja, which is definitely a good thing.
Chosen to progress to the semi-finals and it’s not hard to see why. The highlight is his closing musical number, which is just fantastically odd and exactly the sort of thing that makes watching live comedy worthwhile.
A confident, funny routine that’s perfect for a student audience, taking in gap years and university applications. Her lively stage presence gets everyone onside from the get-go and her stories makes you feel much better about your own gap year choices!
A set that’s been honed to razor sharpness and chooses its targets well. Shakes his head at the foolishness of the world and throws down an irresistible invitation to join him.
Lumbered with being first on, Tadiwa Mahlunge errs on the side of edgy and sets a reasonably high bar for the rest to aim at. The mischievous twinkle in his eye makes everyone feel fine about laughing at the more outrageous punchlines, which land more often than not.
See for yourself
You don’t have to take our word for any of that. This very versatile link will take you to clips of all the acts and let you vote for your favourite (until 5pm on March 12th), see routines from previous heat winners and find out about the remaining heats in Lincoln and London.
Let’s not pretend you don’t have the time to spare. Best be quick though. Apparently we’re not getting any younger.