When a show is going badly, repeatedly telling the audience that they’re a tough crowd only ever exacerbates matters. It makes the lack of laughs more noticeable, the comedian look bitter and the audience feel insulted. At We Love Comedy, the audience’s failure to laugh definitely wasn’t our failing but that of the comedians.
Compere Jools Constant did the opposite of warming us up. His teasing of individual audience members was uncomfortable and unfunny. Too often, his insults lacked punch lines - it felt more like straightforward bullying than stand up and remarking that it was, ‘a tough room tonight’ only made us even more reluctant to contribute. Unsurprisingly, ‘I’m going to try and involve you cause you don’t want to involve me’ also failed to work the comedy magic.
The acts themselves weren’t much better. A free gig is definitely a good place to test out material, but I was surprised that much of their material had even got to the testing stage. The first act, shifting awkwardly onstage, used his five minutes to tell us some clichéd jokes about the Olympics and Fifty Shades of Gray. Jane Walker’s material was similarly tired - discussing weight, aging and friends with babies - though I did enjoy her joke about ‘squirrel hair.’ Newcomer Jordan Turner was at least more original, but lacked the confidence to even get through his allotted five minutes. Perhaps the final act didn’t have much chance given his predecessors; his slightly offensive set - containing lots of sex jokes and a particularly uncomfortable attempt to get the audience involved - was, however, depressingly unfunny in its own right.
Though the refreshingly confident Jenny O’Sullivan managed to provoke proper applause, she was the only one. I didn’t blame people for walking out. I do love laughing, but this show reminded me why ‘we love comedy’ just isn’t a generalisation it’s possible to make.