Review: Charity is a laughing matter thanks to four comedians

From left: Angela Barnes, Paul McCaffrey, Carl Donelly and Romesh Ranganathan

From left: Angela Barnes, Paul McCaffrey, Carl Donelly and Romesh Ranganathan

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Comedy Night, The Anchor Hotel, Horsham, Thursday, May 16

It was good to see more than 150 people at The Anchor who came out for a night of laughter to raise funds for St Mary’s School.

The four stand-up comedians were all on good form and made sure the audience got more than enough merriment for their money.

Carl Donnelly did a great job as the compere for the evening, mixing good natured engagement with the audience in with the occasional anecdote.

His banter was fairly rude as he poked fun at several audience members (as well as bar staff) but he told his jokes in a highly likeable and cheeky way that never failed to raise a smile.

The highlight of his performance was a story about his girlfriend’s encounter with an emu in Australia, which didn’t go very well because she has an intense phobia of birds.

It might have got the biggest laugh of the night but, to be fair, Carl gave the emu the credit for the anecdote because of its brilliant comic timing.

The first set of the evening was performed by Romesh Ranganathan, an ex-maths teacher from Crawley who talked about education and parenting in the 21st century.

His hilariously insensitive attitude towards unruly children got a great response.

His material was edgy and dealt with issues like race in a way that provoked some good (if a little cautious) laughs. His descriptions of the playful arguments he has with his white wife were admittedly very funny too, even if they did gleefully stretch the boundaries of acceptable conversation.

Next up was Angela Barnes who spoke bluntly about her family, sex, hair removal (or lack of) and weight loss.

Her cringeworthy and frank descriptions came off as a little confrontational but the amusing gross-out images she created were perfect for an audience prepared to laugh at something dirty.

Her pessimistic observations were also delivered with an endearing sarcasm, which let the audience laugh at the unfortunate minor things that happen to normal people every day.

The final act of the evening was Paul McCaffrey, who had everyone in hysterics by simply engaging in banter with a handful of unlucky audience members.

Like the other comedians he pulled his comedy from real life, but it was slightly more general, which allowed a lot of people to empathise.

His annoyance at the kind of pointless announcements people hear on trains nowadays – “please leave the train if you are not planning to travel” – clearly struck a chord with the audience.

His impression of a Scottish man who went out to the shop and accidentally found himself on a train heading to London got a wonderful response from an audience amused by its sheer ridiculousness.

Overall, this event was a very successful and funny evening from four up-and-coming comedians doing their bit for charity.

The comedy night was organised by Norma Hudson Pawsey and people from St Mary’s HSA. Total funds raised exceeded £1,200.

Visit www.stmaryshsa.org.

By Lawrence Smith