Review: Wolfson Howler

LOTTIE UNWIN: ‘I will never again not be at the Wolfson Howler. I can’t dispute there aren’t flaws but, for a fiver it is a fantastic night of honest, unpolished stand up.’

Adam Lawrence Ed Gamble Jacob Sharpe Lucien Young Sophie Bauer Tim Key Wolfson Howler

Monday 10th May, 8.00 at Wolfson College Bar. £5. 

Ed Gamble whispered into the ear of the doorman as we got to the front of the queue, “Do the family know that this material is in no way suitable?”  “I tried to explain, I don’t think they spoke English” he replied, by way of consolation.  Ed looked very concerned, and I knew I was in for a good night.  

For all but Tim Key, who has risen above prestigious Footlights’ status into the even more prestigious realms of  ‘professionalism’ the material was a little hit and miss.  But the evening was so relaxed and low key, like an entertainment night at Butlins-for-intellectuals, that in the rare bits when things weren’t working we sat patiently and supportively.

Jacob Sharpe’s impression of a premature ejaculation from start to finish, Adam Lawrence’s dry but energetic anecdotes and Lucien Young’s hilarious parody of Jordan’s latest novel did get big laughs.  Outsider Winston Smith encountered much the same varied reaction as the others.  Though his sister believing Nelson Mandela was the original face of Uncle Ben's was definitely, for example, funny, his set was a little forgettable.  

Highlight, Ed Gamble, is introduced in the Facebook group as ‘your host and cousin-figure’ and that sums him up. He was hilarious and unpredictable, but never threatening.  That said, perhaps forcing an audience member to make a speech was an uncomfortable step too far.  Nick – honestly rather you than me.  As he wobbled on for the final time, admitted pissed and then proceeded to forget all the names of the night’s set he remained, though a liability, thoroughly loveable. 

Placed awkwardly in the middle of the front row Scotch eggs were thrown at me, inexplicably, with liberal abandon.  It was suggested I make a family and there was only one thing to be done:

Mummy Egg was eaten in a tragic accident involving my neighbour.  It was in the middle of the night, so there are no witnesses. 

Tim Key; headline act Tim Key; the much revered Tim Key; had a tough time with an audience who were a little exhausted – the show over-running by an hour and a half.  His set was surreal but his “deliberately bad poetry” as Wikipedia describes it, absolutely brilliant.   At times I didn’t really see where the poems were going, but his manner had me sure it was my fault for not getting it.  It’s not about the punchlines but the persona. 

In the future, Sophie is going to have to fight me to get to that gig. The friendly, fun and low-key atmosphere is enough to make sure I will never again not be at the Wolfson Howler.  I can’t dispute there aren’t flaws but, for a fiver it is a fantastic night of honest, unpolished stand up.  

The Wolfson Howler might feel like a caring community centre, but that shouldn’t stop you.  My Mum always says, “Fight the right battle” and getting near the front of June 11th’s Howler is one of them.