24 Hours of Comedy is the biggest ComedySoc event of the year, and is exactly what it sounds like: from 8pm on Thursday Week 9 to 8pm Friday, V/045 is packed with members and spectators for a non-stop show. The event is understandably difficult to run, and is usually somewhere between ten and thirty minutes behind schedule, but with something for everyone and undeniable value for money, most guests settle down with food, drinks and even pillows, and stay for as long as possible.
As is tradition, this year’s kicked off with the Shambles improv, run by ComedySoc’s chair, James Gamblin. Gamblin knows the performers well and has an apt sense for when a joke has run its course, maintaining the Shambles’ usual fast-paced fun and allowing the group to bounce off each other. The group are obviously familiar with each other and quick off the mark, though the hour ended with a slightly disappointing Charity Single.
After the opening hour came a stand-up set, the first of two. The 9pm group were veterans given primetime viewing, diverse but leaning towards the political and pun-based. The second hour was at 1am and had more variation, with a few character-based comics thrown in, including the well-known Stanley Brooks, terrifying businessman. Standout of the stand-up was Holly Hathrell in her first and apparently last set, a likeable, affable performer.
Two panel shows were included in the first third, though most were saved for the following afternoon. ‘Ben Pearson’s F*ck You Spectacular 2’ had great panellists, an aggressively comedic host, and the hilariously uncomfortable round featuring unnecessarily-censored tweets from panel member Zack Sizer. ‘Guesswork’, an experimental show that took inspiration from last year’s ‘Scary Cat Horse’, fell much flatter as its panellists’ entertaining speculation over the location of pictured beaches and the existence of various metal bands were limited by the time constraint.
The most ambitious slot of the night was ’24 Minutes of Comedy’, the brainchild of Mike James and Charlotte Vinsen, which aimed to produce 24 sketches of no more than 60 seconds each. This was the fastest and biggest performance, bringing together around twenty members and packed in something for all tastes, though the audience’s five-second countdown obscured a few punchlines.
Further highlights include the open mic performance by Charles Deane. While he acknowledged that his subject matter was esoteric, being a PowerPoint critique of an obscure children’s cartoon, it is a testament to his wit and delivery that the audience loved it anyway.
Unique in its style and appeal, the 3-4am lip sync, run by the incredibly enthusiastic Matthew Stallworthy, started everyone dancing despite the beginnings of tiredness. Performances ranged from the silly entertainment of Lewis Dunn, to the skilful routine of Mary O’Connell. Although Ali Heywood’s ‘Blank Space’ video was deeply unsettling in its humour, a surprise and partly-improvised ‘Wrecking Ball’ from energetic powerhouse George Hughes was his usual urgent,
bizarre fun. Stalls’ constant dancing on the sidelines provided a merry distraction for anyone bored.
Less impressive was ‘An Evening with Crispin W. Tiger’, which clearly tickled some members of the audience perfectly, but seemed to leave the majority somewhat confused. Another falter was ‘Golden Wonder: A Bedtime Story’ a slower-paced and more predictable tale, abusing stock comedic characters such as the harpy mother, though it was redeemed by an excellent closing moment from Will Eaton.
Overall, 24’s length and variety covers all bases, and even if the comedy leaves you dry, the camaraderie of a sleep-deprived sugar-high ComedySoc cast is enough to make you smile.