Wolfson Howler with Rob Rouse

Alternative vibes and pangs of apprehension don’t stop The Howler reigning supreme for SOPHIE BAUER.

Abi Tedder Ed Gamble Joshua Erde Phil Wang Rob Rouse The Junction Wolfson Howler

Monday 24th January, 8.00pm, Wolfson College Bar, £5

[Rating: 4/5]

I felt pangs of apprehension as I entered the first Howler of term. In a haze of eerie dislocation I sensed that the forces of change had finally touched this space: the familiar faces on the door were no more, the pounding sound of heady remixes thundered in my ear. Lost and confused, I gazed at the stage for a source of familiarity. Not so: I was greeted not by the personified comfort blanket that is Ed Gamble, but his replacement for the evening, Nish Kumar. Still, despite my faithless huffs, The Howler, as always, prevailed.

The vibes were certainly different as Nish bounced onto the stage to ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’, but with popular shoes to fill, Mr Kumar made a good compere. His banter with the audience was at times repetitive (partly due to a front row of PPS students), and comments such as ‘the comedy ended when I took the microphone’ were the wrong side of self-deprecating. However, he is blessed with a natural likability and was a great sport when dealing with uppity comments from audience members such as ‘you fundamentally misunderstood that concept’.

The immensely popular Phil Wang graced The Howler once more, fresh from Liam William’s Stand-Up Show last week. Effortlessness personified, he’s always a reliable staple of the comedy circuit. Some of the material wasn’t as sharp as usual, but his trademark style and quips ensured that any blips were fast forgotten.

Joshua Erde’s set displayed moments of self consciousness and long-winded delivery. The material in itself was fine, although combined with lines like ‘I don’t have the depth or material to improvise’ sometimes made uncomfortable viewing. Yet there were glimpses of potential, such as his vision of an overtly politically correct future.

Of all the student performers, Abi Tedder stole the show. Her list of fears entitled ‘I’m fat and I live in fear’ brought the house down. She found the ideal balance between scatty, controlled, hyperactive and witty. As Ms Tedder would say, you go girl.

You may have glimpsed the outstanding Rob Rouse in early episodes of ‘The Friday Night Project’ and ‘8 out of 10 Cats’. From the moment he stepped on stage, the audience morphed into a sea of doubled over, tear stained, bruised ribbed creatures…a wonderful sight, surely, for an ex-geography teacher fearful of awakening one day fully dressed in corduroy. From potty training his toddler to his randy dog ruining his idyllic Christmas, Rob Rouse was a vision of cheeky endearment, physical hilarity and a source of gut wrenching laughter. He’ll be performing on the 17th of June at the Junction and is definitely worth a gander.

And here is the lesson: The Howler may change, but as long as pure quality remains its by-word, then they can decorate the bar like a Barbie mansion for all I care.