Review: Wolfson Howler

The Wolfson Howler couldn’t have been better for SOPHIE BAUER, despite having her notes read aloud and mocked by the acerbic Ed Gamble.

Addison Gamble Howler Thick of It Wang Wolfson

Wolfson Howler, Headliner: – Chris Addison (18th January, 8.00pm, Wolfson College)

Drama and tension were in the air. I gawped at the apocalyptic queue forming itself outside Wolfson College. Images of ‘War of the Worlds’ or similar flashed before my eyes… our friends were too weak, we had to leave them behind and ignore their pleading bleats. We coldly made our way to the front of the queue; the slightly sour taste of ‘press’ on our lips. However, this ‘Working Girl’ image shattered painfully as I found myself standing next to writers from TCS and Varsity: I felt like a small potato sitting in the sandpit with the aubergines….

Another dilemma: were we to sit on the front row, risking the evil clutch of audience participation? Or choose to sink into the sea of anonymity behind us? I must have looked like a mouse attempting poised cynicism as Ed Gamble’s eyes locked onto me like a slightly endearing lion. My flushed face and blatant discomfort were enough to doom me to an evening of probing and ‘special attention’. I became a semi willing puppet of a reviewer; notebook snatched from my person and condemned to lead the clapping. Ed was soon reviewing my notes, reading aloud the parts he disagreed with and in the end sequestered my notebook during the interval and wrote his own review of the night and fake diary entry which he then read aloud (you can read these entries at the end of this article).In all seriousness though, Ed Gamble put on an impressive performance last night; his comic timing impeccable, natural affinity with the audience infallible. He is blessed with the magic combination of well pitched audience participation, his improvisations spot on and hilarious (particularly in purple belt Kung Fu). And if that doesn’t constitute a good review Mr Gamble I’m not sure what does.

The Howler always puts on a great show, but this time it really surpassed itself in the momentum and sheer talent it carried through for about 3 hours. Being in your second term here also means that you get to know the familiar faces, developing some kind of mothering affection for their talent.

I’m convinced that Phil Wang must be a Mysteron or ‘Where’s Wally’ character of some kind…next time you go to a comedy event look out for him, or perhaps he’s there swaying in the chorus line of some nondescript play…However, he is a great plus point of any evening, always armed with his deadpan expression and sarcastically witty yet sparse banter. Dannish Babar was also good, who’s ‘I like my women…’ jokes and topless finale were all executed with his amalgamation of discomfort and perplexity.

Unfortunately we have been sworn to MI5-esque secrecy concerning Chris Addison’s material, but rest assured that his brilliance and energy were unshakeable. He triumphantly found the audience’s funny bone and was consistently thigh-slappingly hilarious. If this was indeed a warm up performance than the country’s in for a huge calorific treat of comedy. He’s playing the Junction in March so get yourself down there, especially if you only know him as Oli from ‘The Thick of it’.

I came out of Wolfson on a kind of hilarious cloud nine. Stop sitting at home telling yourself knock-knock jokes and get yourself down to the next Howler.

Ed Gamble's Entries into Sophie's Notebook:


“Oh, what can I say about Ed that is deserving of his sheer presence and phenomenal Carlin-esque insight. Well, let’s just say that if he were a band he would be a really great band that I, and everybody else, like a lot. I love the way he is so funny and stuff and does well loads of jokes like that one that time. He has the wit of a great bloke, and the arms of Arnold Schwarzenegger…I don’t know where he got them; maybe he won them off Arnold in a fight. Anyway, I honestly don’t know how I’m going to go back to my life tomorrow without thinking about Ed- he is like a father figure and a bloke I would go out with all at the same time. Liam was good at jokes. It was when I looked in Ed’s eyes that I knew he was the best comedian in the world. Those sparkling blue jewels…”

Diary Entry.

“Dear Diary,

I think I love Ed Gamble. I keep calling him but he won’t pick up because he is cool like Fonzy or a sexy lion. I wish that he was my husband.