YUSU’s second comedy night of the year was filled with plenty of audience participation and ridicule of York’s status as a posh Southern exclave.
As the audience filed in, it was clear the organisers had hoped for a bigger crowd for the show with only the floor and about half of the middle tier of Central Hall being occupied.
This year the show boasted Rob Rouse, a regular of 8 out of 10 Cats and host of The Friday Night Project, as headliner, with Joel Dommett from BBC 3’s Impractical Jokers as host. Also set to appear was Tom Deacon of Radio 1’s Tom Deacon Show.
A few housemates and I settled in for the show in those chairs just above the stairs on the right. We had decided to shun a boozy night out at Revs, consisting of standing in a dark room filled with strangers judging other strangers, for a more relaxed evening of sitting in a dark room filled with strangers laughing at other strangers instead.
As the lights dimmed and the build-up music quietened (or at least it would’ve done, had there been any), we sat and prayed the low turnout wouldn’t make the show awkward.
Opening the show by poking fun at his double denim attire, Joel Dommett tried hard to get the audience warmed up for the following acts.
Dommett’s enthusiastic take on the well-tested comedian’s routine of picking on members of the audience managed to get the atmosphere going, with an especially tall front-row audience member being picked to come up on stage to compare heights. Dommett then seemed reluctant to see the Curtis go, so sent him to the seat at the back of the stage where he assumed his role as comedian’s-pet. Literally. The guy was sat there throughout the rest of his act.
Some medics told him the best way to treat a cough was heroin, to which he then subsequently asked the audience if anyone had brought heroin along. The lack of response he accredited to York being a sophisticated university before joking that if he was at Derby University, some of the audience would’ve tried to sell him some, which, as a Derbeian myself, I can indeed confirm is a 100% true observation, so bonus points to him for accuracy there.
Certainly the best performing material of the night (for all the acts) were the York-specific bits. Recalling the last time he came to the university, Dommett saw a drunk man cleaning his penis in the sink, whereupon he asked what the guy what he was doing before receiving the reply, “the date’s going really well”. That was definitely the funniest story of the night for me.
Next act, Tom Deacon strode on and sat down at the back of the Central Hall stage with the show’s ‘hostage’, Curtis, and embarked upon a little natter, noting the surrealism of the situation, before expelling him, ending what was becoming an awkward stage occupancy.
After the show, my housemates assured me that everyone knows who Tom Deacon is, and I was “an idiot” for not knowing, and that I should “definitely mention in the review how hot he looked tonight”.
Reviewing his actual material, Deacon spun off some London-based stuff and did a hilarious observational bit about train etiquette and the food-cart pusher person. He also commended the audience for not being a “posh twatty crowd” despite us liking to think of ourselves as superior to other universities.
After an hour of sitting on the Central Hall seats, the interval was mercifully greeted and was an opportunity to grab some snacks for the remainder of the show – or at least it would have been had it not been for a confectionery oversight at the bar, meaning an expedition to the Vanbrugh vending machines was required.
After the interval chitchat, we were greeted with Dommett once again donning double denim, before introducing the headliner for the night Rob Rouse.
As soon as he came on he made the observation that he was probably the oldest person in the room and then joked he was someone’s dad telling us to get in the back of his car “because yer nan’s just died”. Joking about old people dying has got to be the edgiest start to a set I’ve ever seen, but to be fair, he managed to pull it off and from that point onwards he had the audience under his thumb.
Most of his jokes revolved around him being an actual grown-up and revelations of how different his adult-with-two-children-and-a-wife life is to our student’s; one including some fantastic toilet humour (of which I am far too prudish to write out here). One of his best bits involved a Brian Cox impression comparing the universe to a Scotch egg and solving the issue of dark matter: it’s the pepper.
There was also a moment where he went into an oddly serious 10-minute dialectic about the state of modern sexuality and porn, and how it was different to when he was a teenager. However, on the whole, Rouse did an excellent job and engaged students in humour about family life to an extent you wouldn’t have thought capable – think Outnumbered.
One of the audience participation highlights actually came from our small gang of housemates and received a round of applause from the audience. Rouse, a former geography teacher, was comparing his subject specialism to hard drugs, when he asked first-year Environmental Geography student Matt Hollingshurst, “what first got you onto geography?” His reply simply came: “poor parenting”.
Overall the show was a thoroughly good night in the company of top-class comedians and with both halves lasting an hour, the show was good value for money at £10. The show is certainly worth a punt next year for something different to do towards Christmas.