On what felt like one of the coldest nights of the year, Radio HaHa was a grand success; warming our funny bones that threaten to freeze along with the ground in late October.
BarSub at Queen’s Student Union played host, of course organised by the Queens Radio events team, the room was wonderfully intimate, housing about one hundred people at its peak, in a space comfortable enough for just only a few more.. A slightly delayed late start due to last minute line-up changes did nothing to dampen the moods of those attending, with audience, QR members and comedians ambling and chatting about the small venue. Alan Irwin, our host for the evening; part-time QR Station Manager and part-time Comedian, Irwin was sure to point out that he was actually ‘a comedian and not just a d**khead’. Proving this to be true in his opening, referencing members of the audience and the other present comedians. Irwin added to the feeling of community during the event, which in turn set up his following entertainers for a warm reception from the audience.
Adam Laughlin opened proceedings, an energetic comedian from Derry. Speaking at lightning pace, Laughlin’s brash and occasionally gross humour seemed to take the audience by surprise. While the occasional quip or story would fall flat, he eventually won the audience over with some gold moments, most memorably receiving a call from the big man himself, Jesus. The story based comedy, pre-cursed nicely for the remaining two comedians in the first half. Next, Anne Marie Mullan, who’s set followed a similar comedic formula to Laughlin, albeit less crude. Mullan’s dorky, self depreciating humour was eventually well received by the audience. HaHa’s first half ended with the one and only, Shane Todd, part-time resident of Holywood part-time comedian, as if the two are linked?. Todd, commanded the stage with the confidence of a comedian twice his age, instantly finding tirades of laughter from outset. Todd’s jokes often, slow to begin, built pleasantly to produce some clever one-liners, several self-depreciating quips and a crowd that thoroughly seemed to be enjoying oneself. Despite being worried that the bar staff would hang themselves if I bought another drink in the ensuing break (perhaps the bar was too far from the stage to hear the comedy) everyone seemed totally up for the second half.
Irwin opened again, before giving way to a very different, twice as amusing second half. Colin Geddis was first on, a man who wouldn’t look out of place among the Hell’s Angels, but who’s cutting sense of humour might have seen him on the wrong side of a few said motorcycle gang… A set that seemed largely improvised, saw the majority of the laughs coming from interactions with the audience, which due to the small size of Bar Sub allowed for some wonderful banter between entertainer and crowd. Geddis delivered his humour to a crowd that understood him, a brazen beer-fuelled night-out around the local’s corner pub-table. This natural style of comedy was an enjoyable change in pace from the first half of the show, and completely yet again to what was to come.
Headline act Paul Currie’s bizarre and abstract clothing and humour graced the stage to silence. I’m sure half the audience had little to no idea what was to come. Their nervous laughter at the comedian’s entrance seemed to give away their naivety, I, however, glanced around to spy a few revellers hiding snickering laughter, they, I soon learnt were all too aware what we were in for. Regularly integrating props and music with his generally mime based audience interaction, it was hard to look away for a second, even if you weren’t laughing. Rarely needing to say a word, sketches evolved from dance/sing alongs to singling out members of the audience, with serious outbursts of laughter along the way. Paul’s unique ability to command an audience without speech, and without making them feel overly uncomfortable or awkward is truly a sight to behold. Currie’s other work, clearly influenced his comedy, having been both a street performer and a puppeteer for Ireland’s answer to Sesame Street. Most importantly, Currie is bizarre without ever reaching, cringe-territory, as such humour can amount to.
‘This is were it gets weird’ – Paul Currie
Having seen some peculiar things go down in the Students Union, I still never imagined I would view an entire room give an imaginary reach around to the dragon from the Never Ending Story, musical score et al. Closing with what appeared to be a tribute to ‘that scene’ in The Deer Hunter, involving nothing less than a cute orang-utan puppet and a revolver. Curries departure invoked particularly thunderous applause, a truly unique comedian, and one to watch.
Following some thank yous and goodbyes led by Alan, after almost three hours of comedy, HaHa ended. The warm and friendly vibe in the BarSub remained, with none seeming keen to filter out any time soon. You’d be hard pushed to find a night of comedy anywhere in NI this good. The next Radio HaHa date will be announced shortly and I for one, will be there.