Laughs all around at the Howler

Thomas Fitzmaurice 23 January 2014

Monday night’s stand-out Wolfson Howler cemented its position as the best stand up night in Cambridge. Regularly drawing huge comic names, the latest show offered some much needed light relief and witty genius.

The compere Ed Gamble led the line-up. Having developed his skills through a varied engagement with the attendees at the start of the night, his highlight came later in the show with a surreal exchange between himself and a mysterious audience member who could read the future and asserted her name was “well hello”.

The first two supporting acts Stephen Harrison and Victor Herrero were confident, kicking the night off on a much higher note than at previous Howlers. Harrison, although not overwhelmingly charismatic, delivered a workmanlike set. Admittedly, it didn’t offer wall-to-wall laughs, but he had the crowd suitably warmed up before the more off-colour and eclectic performance of Herrero.

Herrero was, to my view, the least funny of the acts. Nevertheless, an energetic stage performance and the ‘edgy’ nature of his material on nationality and race kept the audience on their toes.

Next up, Dan Eastment gave a solid performance, in the style of Jack Whitehall, relying on a self-deprecating ‘posh’ persona, including contrasting the North’s inability to call a sandwich a sandwich, and the South’s preference for the ‘artisan roll’. Eastment’s set was short, but flawless, not once falling flat. The evening continued with Jack Campbell’s cameo. The best of the support acts, getting laughs from all corners of the room with his polished and superbly delivered set, Campbell is clearly finding his comic feet. His jokes about the banter between seventeen-year-old boys and their art teachers had me in stitches.

Finally, the headliner, Romesh Ranganathan, clearly demonstrated why he was nominated for the best newcomer award at the Edinburgh Festival. With a set that ranged from fatherhood to marriage, topics perhaps not best suited to student gigs (even the mature students of Wolfson), Ranganathan kept the laughs coming for the entirety of his forty-five minutes on stage. Managing to include audience interaction, material from his established shows, and newer subject matter (of the type you won’t find on YouTube), he justified his headliner status and capped off a high quality night of comedy.

With suitably cheap drinks, a low ticket price and consistently good headline and support acts, it’s obvious to see why the Howler has quietly become the best place for comedy across the university.

Look out for our interview with the people behind the Howler later on this term.