Perhaps it was the below-zero temperatures outside, or the Christmas fare that had been consumed pre-show, or maybe it was simply down to it being Tuesday. Whatever the reason, compere Joe Heenan had some trouble rousing the troops for this particular yuletide comedy spectacular.
Seemingly stricken himself by the low levels of energy in the room, even this most reliable of hosts struggled to get the best from his crowd, complaining that he had nothing to work with in his front row. An odd claim, given that there was a pilot, a psychiatric nurse and a couple of Dutch women among the throng.
The laid-back atmosphere was barely helped by James Kirk, a former So You Think You’re Funny winner whose grumpy young man character would work better on the radio or in a sketch-team scenario, but in front of a wintry gathering, even his pointed analysis of Jay-Z’s lyrics failed to hit home.
For such a seasoned comedy campaigner, Viz creator Simon Donald certainly knows how to telegraph his jokes, with the punchline to his Newcastle prostitutes story clearly visible from space. And, given his publishing background, there was a distinct case of a North-east kettle calling a Newcastle pot black with his slamming of the scatological nature of reality TV show Geordie Shore.
Bawdy headliner Jo Caulfield almost saved the day with some caustic dry wit albeit about less than stirring subjects, such as Channel 4 shows, how men can’t cope with female arguments and the lay-out of modern shops.