Andy Zaltzman at The Wolfson Howler
GORDON PAL asks of the best Wolfson Holwer yet, “More of the same next term, please.”
Monday 22nd November, 8.00 at Wolfson College Bar. £5.
It was always going to be a hard act to follow. Last time out, the Wolfson Howler had more than lived up to its name, with Milton Jones bringing the house down with his classic brand of one-liners. That said, the Howler managed to come up with a more than ample replacement in the hilarious Andy Zaltzman.
Once again the allure of avoiding work without braving Fez was too much for another packed house expectant after what has been a great Michaelmas for the event.
Compere Ed Gamble – fresh from an appearance on Russell Howard’s Good News – was fantastic as ever. Where the student acts on the bill showed nerves and self-awareness, Gamble was brash and exuding in control throughout. From wannabe lads to reticent Bulgarians, he never wavered.
Onwards then to the first act, and Jack Lewars immediately divided the room with a “2 babies 1 cup” gag. Nevertheless, he largely went down well with some interesting observational disability comedy. Next up, Tab’s very own Ali Lewis put his own twist on deadpan one-liners. In spite of producing belly laughs from me throughout, some parts of the crowd didn’t appreciate his superb word plays.
After a trademark 25 minute Wolfson interval, Gamble brought on Leo Davidson, on his third visit to the Howler. Although on the face of it, Davidson seemed to be conforming to a number of comedic stereotypes in playing to being the overweight Jewish guy who writes songs. However, he pulled it off with aplomb.
Following on was the final warm-up act Liam Williams who grew into his act after a shaky start. A Cambridge graduate, Williams only began to win the crowd over when he became a rarity at the Howler in actually tackling the subject matter closest to our hearts. It would have been difficult for Williams to have summed up Cambridge life more beautifully, taking on everything from rugby lads to Fairtrade ecstasy.
Finally, we were at the headline act. After the fantastic student acts had more than usurped their counterparts from two weeks previous, Andy Zaltzman had a rapt audience.
Sure enough, he didn’t disappoint. Perceptive wit abounded in Zaltzman’s distinctive style, summed up in his opening line: “I’d like to solve all of the greatest social and political problems today, thus bringing an end to all world conflict.” From then on it was a whirlwind of serious political themes juxtaposed with ridiculous graphic imagery (on the decline of share prices in the credit crunch: “faster than a well-waxed baby down a steep water slide”).
In spite of occasionally stuttering on his act and his jokes dying more often than should be afforded to a headline act, Zaltzman provided a great performance to finish another fantastic night at Wolfson.
You can’t deny that even though you are kept at the bar for as long as possible, the Wolfson Howler remains one of the best value-for-money entertainments in Cambridge. More of the same next term, please.