"Nigel! Nigel! Look, we can talk about this - don't stick bamboo up my arse!"

Stewart Spaull First night back after the refurbishment of Bar XS.

First up was Comedy Balloon regular Stewart Spaull trying out some new stuff. As the first spot of the night is often the hardest Stewart had a bit of a job getting the punters going.

Some of the gags were good but quite sick so some audience members were a bit shocked. Two pints down the line though and they'd lighten up, I'm sure. I particularly enjoyed the 'prostitute in Yorkshire' gag. There were some genuinely good gags there though, a couple of 'Christmas crackers', and some that were greeted with confused murmers (too subtle for most people, I think). However, if Stew works on the delivery a bit more the same gags could get bigger laughs.

A brave attempt, and much improved, I thought, from previous gigs.

Des Sharples Next on was another regular, both at the Balloon and Malarkey's - Des Sharples.

Des started with a bit of banter about the new refurbishments and went into a bit of new material about the story of the guy who shagged a frozen chicken. This led neatly into his story about a punter at the Comedy Store whose mate told one of the comics that his mate once shagged a tin of hot dog sausages - it's true, I was there!

He then went into more familiar material, but it has got to the point where Des will always get laughs at every gig. Even though I've heard his stuff quite a few times it still makes me laugh - especially the memory loss bit which gets more convincing every time. Well done, Des.

Mik Artistik After the break was the disturbingly strange Mik Artistik.

The last time I saw Mik was about two or three years ago at Murphy's Malarkey. He was completely and utterly bizarre. The audience were totally confused, and totally silent. Apart from me and one other person who were in tears at the sheer freakiness.

However, Mik has actually got some material this time. Some gags, songs, and a couple of props help the show along. There's still plenty of weirdness, but at least weirdness that people can grasp (just). The highlight of the set I thought was the Crooklock song.

Mike Landers Suffice to say he's not everyone's cup of tea. You really do need a couple of pints before watching him.

After the rather strange Mik was the far more sensible Mike Landers. Due to a freak minidisc accident combined with laziness the recording of Mike's set was mysteriously absent (as was the remainder of the night), and I've only just got round to reviewing the gig. So I can't remember too much - suffice to say Mike always gets plenty of laughs when he plays Malarkey's.

Mick Ferry Headlining that night was the ever-popular Oldham lad Mick Ferry.

Again, I can't remember much about it but suffice to say Mick is always funny, with plenty of audience banter and improvised stuff. One thing I do remember, though, is Mick getting all the punters to come outside with him while he knocked on someone's door and everyone ran off! Top stuff.

Not the most earth-shattering of nights, comedy-wise, but not too bad.

See you next week!