I was very excited to witness “the biggest car crash in comedy” on a night where ‘comedians’ are plucked from the street and dared to entertain the crowd for up to five minutes.
The night was hosted by Mick Ferry who explained the rules: Acts have a maximum of five minutes to entertain the crowd BUT can be heckled off stage if they receive three red cards. Mick also acted as an impartial judge who could “gong-off” anyone presenting racist/sexist/stolen/inappropriate material.
Mick was a perfect host, brilliant engagement in with the crowd and get the audience laughing on a dank Sunday evening. There were some real comic gems in his patter but his flexibility to weave new material born out of audience conversation was sublime – a true comedic craftsman.
After the introduction from Mick the 20 acts began, essentially random members of the public who dared to take-on the gong. The nature of this event means that unfortunately some acts are going to be awful: Some comics were extremely nervous and some material very close to the knuckle but the crowd has the power so many did not make it very long! Dr. Slash spent more time waking to the stage than actually performing on it!
On the other hand, some of the acts were simply magnificent. Highlights included Michael Fletcher and his awful mother; The Taiwanese accountant Quan When Wang with his outrageous satire of traditional Taiwanese culture and Michael Hart; who’s set juxtaposed dark material with a very flowery delivery.
The night contained comic characters, spoken word poetry from Robert Stephenson (another highlight), Puccini played on the accordion by Sarah Morgan, as well as more conventional stand up - there was something for everyone. The audience attend this event to be surprised by comedic gems in unlikely forms and Mo Haroon certainly proved this with his deadpan and surreal observations on living as a Muslim the UK.
Seven acts made it through to the “gag off” where they had a further minute to entertain the crowd before a winner was chosen through the clap-meter.
The King Gong crown was deservingly awarded to Marc Jennings. He was confident and articulate. The set was well rehearsed and tight drawing on his experience of call centre work. He came directly after the “comfort break” but had the audience hanging off his every work with cynical observation and a confidence in his material – certainly someone to watch.
What I enjoyed about this event is its inclusivity in a world where there are many divides within our society. Comics of varied ages, styles, ethnicities, sexual orientation, influences, you-name-it-they-were-different, took to the stage. They all had to work for the prize of £50 and opening spot for three nights at The Comedy Store. We as an audience were ready to be surprised by a new star in the making and hats off to the Comedy Store for encouraging new talent in all its forms.
There were some acts tonight who did not make it the full five minutes but were very entertaining, alas this is the nature of the gong!
I would highly recommend attending King Gong, as at £6, you will not see a more varied night of entertainment. A roller-coaster of comedy hosted impeccably by the staff at the Comedy Store. If I was to have one quip with my university-educated music hat on, there is no gong present in this entire show: it’s a Tam-Tam!
Reviewer: Dave Collins
Reviewed: 8th January 2016
Mick Ferry: http://www.mickferry.co.uk/about/ // @MickFerry
Marc Jennings: @MarcJennings90
Comedy Store: http://thecomedystore.co.uk/manchester/ // @ComedyStoreMCR
King Gong: @KingGongMCR