It's amazing how quickly a vibe can change. At 7.55pm there are 5 slightly glum comedians sat in an empty room fiddling with their phones.
Fast forward to 8.10 and Darren Walsh is making a room full of estate agents and new media professionals laugh out loud continuously. The good mood continued when Salford-based comedy adventurer Tom Little took the mic and then Lew Fitz injected even more energy into proceedings. I wrapped the first half with a well received West End and we broke for beers.
Gary Sansome previewed his updated for 2017 show, "Bald Man Sings Rihanna", in the second half to a 100% returning audience and jumped from material to simply MCing the now very vocal crowd with slick professionalism. By the end of the night everyone knew everyone's name and four of us were up front singing Umbrella. The donations bucket also made a pleasant rustling noise rather than a miserly clank.
So lessons learned? Less is more. Take three genuinely good experienced acts, add one all singing all dancing MC to top and tail the first half then leave the second to someone who can enjoy and handle 40 minutes on their own.
The run of Bear Jokes / barely any audience is over :-)