Comedy Store

Comedy Review: ‘King Gong’ at the Comedy Store

  • Olivia-Marie Baron reviews the latest 'King Gong' at Manchester's Comedy Store
  • The comedy show takes place once every month at the Deansgate venue

Comedy shows are full of surprises, so imagine mine when a former college friend appeared on stage.

He was one of the dozens of acts to perform at the Comedy Store to beat the Sunday night blues. The monthly ‘King Gong’ show equips guests with the barrel of laughs necessary to ease them into the coming week.

My highlight of the show was when my mouth hit the floor in absolute astonishment as I watched my former classmate enter the spotlight. Suddenly, I was eager for the act to succeed.

‘King Gong’ successfully puts amateur comedians to the ultimate test, trialling their comedy talents in front of the critical Comedy Store audience, at the mercy of the percussion gong.

It’s difficult not to cringe as hopeful contenders take to the stage attempting to win the laughs of the room, with many facing disenchanted eyes glaring back.

The raucous event isn’t for the faint-hearted, calling into question whether competitors have what it takes to break the world of comedy.

What does it take to be a comedian? Stage confidence? Witty act? These are all questions that the gong-meister seeks to answer.

Taking place on the first Sunday each month, on November 5th I sacrificed traditional bonfire night celebrations, knowing I’d gain my own impressive display of fireworks at the heart of the Comedy Store stage.

Mick Ferry hosted the show, and from the offset it was clear that this middle-aged, beer-bellied bloke had earnt his rightful role as gong-meister. Delivering a solid 30 minutes of unique witticism, amusement and genius, the comedian was undoubtedly a fine purveyor of woeful surrealism, effortlessly plonking the audience in the palm of his hand.

Selecting three victims from the audience of hundreds, he criticised their appearance with insults, offenses and abuse, wrapped up neatly into a camouflage of jokes. Bald jokes, couples being mismatched and football wannabes to name a few.

In debt of their ridicule, the trio were awarded red cards. These were catapulted into the air when they recognised a painstakingly bad car crash of comedy from the audience’s deafening silence – and they catapulted.

With a bang of the gong, each amateur took the stage to try and last five minutes. Various sets were performed, from witty one-liners to elaborate stories with disastrous punch lines – much to the audience’s amusement.

One act included a boy complaining about his so-called psycho girlfriend, who would rather spend beer money on decorating. Not really funny.

One man practised his dad-joke routines for Christmas table formalities. Went down a hit.

Only one woman attempted – and miserably failed – to surpass the one-minute mark, delivering clichés about working mothers.

The evening discovered odd gems, with four finalists welcomed back on stage for a one-minute battle-royale.

One, however, stood out from the rest. Delivering surprisingly hilarious dad-jokes about his awkward manner, he stood hunched over and glued to one spot on the stage.

He made jokes about his unfashionable taste in music, and referred to his garishly patterned blue shirt. Stephen Cookson proved that uber confidence isn’t everything.

The middle-aged man packed a punch with every sentence, securing every laugh in the room – Gong-meister included. He won £50 and his own weekend Comedy Store spot.

Maybe my former college classmate should spend his weekends studying comedy.