"I can't get the stain out of my Speedos..."
First onto the Malarkey shoebox was open spot Martin Black.
Having spoken to Martin before his set I got the impression he was a tad nervous about the gig, having only performed a dozen or so times before, but he swiftly got into the swing of things with some good, clear delivery of gags which, for the main part, were on the ball. A couple didn't quite hit the mark but it's early days yet and I'm sure he'll improve the set with time.
The only small criticism was that Martin's voice was a touch too quiet but this can easily be sorted out by holding the mic a bit closer. Oh, and if you don't use the mic stand it's a good idea to put it to one side.
Other than that a great debut for a new act on the scene, and one to watch for the future. Well done.
Next on was the superb Justin Moorhouse trying out some new material about his recent trip to Shanghai.
Justin was on form, as usual, with tales of his trip abroad, in an almost Billy Connolly style (but with his usual brand of self-deprecatory humour). And his material about joining the gym and 'helping out' with women's stretch marks had the audience in a combination of laughter and revulsion (but all the more amusing for its shock value).
The set was only about ten minutes long, which was a shame as he was just getting into his stride. Oh well, maybe a longer set next time. Great stuff, Mr Moorhouse. More please.
After the break came a debut for 'posh scouser' Bill Woolland (not actually sure where you come from Bill, sounds like Warrington to me - apologies if I'm wrong!)
Bill, being an old codger of 43, gave us his material on parenthood. There were some marvellously sick jokes - the one about afterbirth was particularly good - his style reminded me a bit of Brendan Riley in places, especially the bits about men having trouble finding the G-spot.
One small criticism - Bill used the t'internet line that Peter Kay uses - naughty! Other than that his set was a good one, with some great lines and phrases; "collapsing to the floor in a pile of self-abuse" being my particular favourite.
I've a feeling Toby will be inviting Bill back before long. Nice one, Bill.
One of the things I like about Malarkey is that it never seems to go to plan. Bollocks to this C*medy St*re and J*ngleurs attitude of, "Right, your set lasts twelve and a half minutes, yours lasts fifteen and a quarter... etc."
So it was a nice surprise to see the lovely and slightly disturbing Jo Dakin get up and do a set (I think she only popped in for a few jars). Jo's strange and slightly sick humour took a while to warm the crowd up, although to be fair she was lacking a prop which she normally uses to open the set, a pig's heart, no less. Or it could be a sheep's, it's difficult to tell at a distance... However, the set got better as it progressed.
Jo's set has increased in size and was more consistent and delivered better than when she last appeared at Malarkey, way back in September. There were some clever gags which were what some people might term "slow burners" and some which got satisfying groans of disgust - always a good sign in my book!
Altogther a good set, especially considering it was a last minute one as well.
After the second break came cheeky young upstart Jason Manford.
Having seen Jason a few times before I was getting ready for another 'Family Fortunes stupid answers' routine that seems to have been wheeled out many times before (and which everyone has had several times by email), but was pleasantly surprised by plenty of new material (although some of the old favourites were there).
Although the set started with a few standard issue jokes Jason gave credit to the original performers ("Roy Walker, 1984!"), which was quite funny, but the funniest part of the set was the audience banter and improvised stuff (as it so often is with comedians). The 'serial killer at the window' moment was a classic! And anyone who's a Blue and hates Mick Hucknall and Jamie Oliver is okay by me.
A great XS debut from a comic who's only a whippersnapper of 21 but is looking like he'll be a star of the future.
Finally, to bring the evening down, Toby read the joke competition entries. They really do get worse every week.
But the t-shirts were pretty crap anyway.
See you next week.