"Wading through troughs of my own piss."

Matt Asbury An unfeasibly quiet night tonight so Toby had to work extra hard at the start to get the audience warmed up (and made a decent fist of it). And the first act of the night tonight was Matt Asbury.

Matt opened up with a succession of gags ranging from his gynaecology 'career' to being sponsored by Tenalady (sp?) incontinence pads, which earned him some okay laughs. I think the funniest bit of the set was when Matt tried to do some freestyle rapping - with hilarious consequences! Especially trying Mike Dawson to coordinate the audience into being a human beatbox. Quite appalling and shambolic, but amusingly so. Not a bad start to the night.

After Matt, Toby did some frantic bantering about the fact that it was quiet (he is funny when he gets riled) before bringing on the next act, making his Malarkey debut, Mike Dawson.

Mike generally did okay, although occasionally looked a bit nervous and some of the material let him down, Andy Brough but the potential is there and this will come in time. There were a few gags in there that got a reasonable response, and he's still new so all in all it wasn't a bad gig.

Next on before the break was a comic who's been playing Malarkey's pretty much since it started at the other place - Andy Brough.

Andy is one of those acts that writes material and sticks with it, seemingly forever. Although tonight he actually had some new material! From stuff about auction programmes on TV, through kids' programmes and Jo Dakin even time travel, some of it was a bit meandering and the punchlines need sharpening up, but there were a fair few laughs in there. Of course, the classics were there - bargains and the band Living In A Box. He still seems to suffer from nerves, but it wasn't as bad as it sometimes is.

After the break came another stalwart of Malarkey's, the quite insane Jo Dakin.

Jo seemed a bit more nervous than usual tonight for some reason and consequently her 'character' was even more mad than usual. Not sure what the problem was but it was a bit too over the top at times and detracted Helmut from the comedy a bit. The laughs were there throughout but at times the audience seemed a touch confused. Or scared. Perhaps Jo was experimenting a bit with the delivery, as I've seen her try her set in a few different styles.

Headliner of the night, making his return to XS, was German character comic Helmut.

Unfortunately, due to the battery running out in the MP3 recorder, I didn't manage to record Helmut's set to refer back to when writing this review, but I can remember enough to know that it was good; peppered with Germanic jokes (from a British point of view) that the audience seemed to like. No slideshow this time from the Teutonic gagster but the material more than made up for it. A few obvious 'towels on the sunloungers' gags but funny nonetheless.