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Jimmy McGhie headlines Laughter Lounge

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Comedy came back to the Bridge Bar at Southampton University’s Student Union this week as Laughter Lounge returned for the second time this year. The evening, consisting of feature acts, was hosted by David Whitney, who slowly but surely got into his groove to a packed venue; word spread that around fifty people had been turned away from the venue, it was that busy. Whitney is one of those comedians who mix a confident uppishness with lad humour, who was at his best talking dating lies, but not quite suited to acting as compѐre. Simply, there was too much falling upon crass imagery and cussing to really keep a consistent energy throughout the night.

Yet Whitney in the second half of the show kept the laughs coming in a way that first feature Luke Benson did not. “The Bensonator”, as he repeatedly called himself (often to an awkward reception), was apparently a popular figure on his last visit to the Bridge, yet here stumbled through his set, making frequent references to the lack of response from the audience, and he delivered his punchlines as if he was rehearsing to a mirror than working off of a live audience. His repeat of an early joke to a stunned silence was a cause for concern, and set the tone for a generally uninspiring performance. Some great geek-lines about Medal of Honour and Star Wars went down well, as did an Abu Hamza joke to finish the night (though one must feel this is slowly becoming outdated), but Benson did not quite show the potential other recent reviewers have noticed.

Romesh Ranganathan came with the tagline ‘So You Think Your Funny Finalist 2010’ and improved upon the earlier sets of the evening. With some great lines regarding his Sri Lankan name, race and Mr T Romesh soon won over the audience, but due to an indifferent middle-section when he huffed and puffed through an Indian food sketch, it has to be said that when he came off stage it did feel like he hadn’t quite lived up to expectation.

However, headline act Jimmy McGhie managed to install a sense of professionalism to the proceedings, bringing with him all the confidence and charisma he did to his appearance on Russell Howard’s Good News last year. He got past his early mistake, where he presumed Southampton University’s nearest rivals were Bournemouth, and not Solent, and went on to produce a solid set, mixing standard routines about sex, technology and “hoodies” with two hilarious anecdotes, one about visiting Scotland and the other on a recent audition to host Channel Four’s ‘T4’ programme. McGhie unfortunately had to rush towards the end of his slot due to some technical faults delaying proceedings by around an hour, but it was warmly received and it would not be a surprise to see McGhie on television again this year.

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