The first night at XS Malarkey was always going to be a strange one after having spent the previous four years at Scruffy Murphy's under the alias Murphy's Malarkey, but it was one that went well enough, given all the potential things to worry about; have we got a stage? a light? enough tables and chairs? will the CD player and microphone work? will people forget it's moved venues?
Luckily for Toby and the door staff these potential problems didn't occur (although I did notice a few of the regulars were missing - come on people, give your support in these crucial first few weeks!) To be fair, though, in Freshers' Week there's competition everywhere. Manchester City were playing at home (a splendid drubbing of struggling Walsall) and Un*t*d were on TV as well (so we'd have had no students in from anywhere south of the Home Counties).
The night kicked off earlier than usual as Toby Foster (first on) had a gig to do at the Witchwood in Ashton-u-Lyne. As Toby [Hadoke] was acting that day and had to make his way back from Liverpool it was Jason Cooke and his collection of animal porn who filled in for the most part of the evening as compere. He did a sterling job, considering he'd forgotten the strap for his guitar and had to play it in the style of the Karate Kid.
Toby Foster came on and was as hilarious as ever - what a start to the show! The best part of Toby's act comprised of a conversation with some poor bloke who'd been in the pub for five hours and was as pissed as anyone Toby had seen "outside hospital". After attempting to sneak off for a piss as discreetly as possible he came back and was too scared to make his way back to his seat! He did - eventually - after much pleading from Toby.
After Toby Foster came an unexpected appearance from Jonathan Paylor - someone who students always relate to with his amusing observations about things like baked bean pizzas and Richard & Judy.
Next it was the turn of Jo Dakin who I thought did brilliantly, in a Hattie Haydridge kind of way, considering how nervous she was before the show. This was understandable as at around 7:30pm dozens of students on an organised pub crawl steamed into the pub in order to start spending our tax money, leaving the pub absolutely packed with people - all attempting to get completely shitfaced. Luckily they all buggered off after a pint leaving the regular Malarkey crowd (and a few new faces).
Toby Hadoke had turned up by now and announced the joke competition in which the lucky winner won a bottle of vodka! How's that for a reward for five lines of poetic vomit? Better than the usual crappy t-shirt we used to get at Scruffy's...
Last but definitely not least the final act of the night was the side-splitting Jimmy Carr, writer for the 11 O'Clock Show. With the look of what can only be described as 'startled fop' you'd think he was a soft touch with the hecklers - but you'd be wrong. The man was just too funny and too quick-witted to take shit from anyone, but fortunately everyone knew their place. As is always the case when you watch a very funny comic you can never remember anything they said - and that's true in this case. I can, however, remember laughing my arse off, so if you get the chance to see him, do so.
By the end of the night the audience had warmed up nicely and good fun was had by all. The limericks from the joke competition were read out (all piss-poor but somebody's got to win I suppose) and the late bar allowed everyone to carry on boozing - hurrah!
At this point we'd like to say a huge, suffocating THANKYOU to Sarah, Adam and the rest of the fantastic bar staff for sorting out all our needs - stage, lights, organisation, and even the free whisky I got when I was shown how the 'gamble to get one free' whisky promotion worked! So cheers for making the night a big success, and let's hope it's the start of many more.