Twitter Comedy Night lives up to its promise

Twitter Comedy Club’s first live event attracted an audience of thousands with its promise of an innovative evening’s entertainment featuring a strong and varied line-up of performers.

For the most part it lived up to its promise, with the comedians rising to the challenge of tailoring their individual styles to suit the medium of online social networking.

Compere and event organiser Tiernan Douieb kicked off with a lively introduction, emphasising the experimental nature of the evening.

“Tonight might be sort of experiment where you go to NASA and watch a rocket take off and fly to the moon,” he explained, “Or it could be the sort of experiment where you go to NASA and watch a rocket take off, it reaches 80ft and explodes and everyone cries.”

There was no tears in evidence, but plenty of laughs, and Tiernan later threw some audience participation into the mix when he urged everyone to send cheeky Tweets to Twitter divas Lily Allen and Demi Moore.

Conscious of the constraints of comedy typed in Tweet form, with a limit of 140 characters at a time, several performers opted to provide visual aids to liven things up.

Matt Kirshen urged followers to visit a bizarre museum in LA run by the Scientologists called: Psychiatry: An Industry of Death, and provided a link to its site to add a bit of background.

Terry Saunders’ anecdote about a succession of ailments and a doctor’s examination was illustrated by a photo of him with his trousers round his ankles. The story rambled on then tailed off like a shaggy dog story – it turned out he had reached the limit of Tweets allowed (a maximum limit is imposed to prevent spamming). The final chapter in the tale of medical mishaps was later relayed on his blog, Terryland.

Carl Donnelly’s contribution relied almost entirely on visual input, in the form of a link to a Youtube clip of his stage act - a cheeky option which was something of a cop-out compared to the hard work the others put in.

Rob Heeney delivered a stream of punchy one liners, such as: “My granddad died while reading in the bath – although it was his fault as it was a Word for Windows document.”

Gary Delaney used his rapier wit to cut hecklers down to size by asking: “Where did you learn to type? In a helicopter?”

His contribution consisted of a string of great one liners, which must surely be second nature to him by now as he’s been providing a steady stream of them on Twitter for some time.

Mitch Benn’s speciality is comic songs, not easy to put across without music, but his alternative lyrics to the tune of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, on a Twitter theme, were an acceptable compromise:

“So you think you can spam me and twit in my eye… So you think you can love me and not Stephen Fry…”

Pappy’s Fun Club also rose to the challenge of transposing their visual, sketch-based act from stage to computer screen.

“We’re normally quite visual,” said Matt, one of the four members of Pappy’s. “We even wrote a sketch about Twitter. Unfortunately the cast is too big. It’s got 140 characters in it.”

The visual element came in the forms of links to a series photos, the first showing them sitting on a sofa, three fully clothed and one wearing nothing but a strategically placed laptop.

Last but not least was Mark Watson, who brought the evening to a close with a final round of well-observed one liners.
“Why does Cliff Richard never die?” he pondered. “Is God keeping him alive to inspire us? Or just putting off having to meet him?”

He summed up the evening by saying “This has been fun, all night. Shame on those who disrupted it.”

Heckling and over-use of the hashtag, a key word meant for use only for the performers, was a source of irritation and interrupted the flow of comic banter. (It didn’t bother me, as I just followed the comedians direct and avoided the hashtag altogether.)

Disruptions and a few minor hitches aside, there was a great deal of fun to be gleaned from the event, which brightened up a Monday evening, cost nothing, was a bit different, and as experiments go, can be counted as a reasonable success.

The Twitter Comedy Club site bills the event as its “first comedy night”, suggesting that more are to follow. More of the same would be welcome, with perhaps the addition of a few of female comedians. Some of those who were invited but unable to take part on this occasion, but hopefully will be persuaded next time.


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