I’ll be honest, my expectations were low for this comedy gala. I’d never heard of Jericho Comedy, and I’d never heard of the comedians performing. I was sceptical about how funny a fundraiser for a mental health charity could actually be. At best, I expected a night of mildly diverting entertainment – perhaps an audience member would heckle someone – and at worst, I was bracing myself for two hours of second-hand embarrassment. Anyone who is familiar with Jericho Comedy will already know how wrong I was: I laughed so much at this comedy gala that my face hurt.
Alex from Jericho Comedy hosted the night and was nothing short of brilliant – he warmed up the crowd with some well-received ribbing of an audience member who worked for an oil company, turning next on an accountant in the second row. Who knew that an ‘accountant’ on TikTok is someone broadly employed in sex work? Not me. This revelation was startling and made me feel (gasp) middle aged. Sitting in the fourth row, the audience participation was at times a little too close for comfort; thankfully, years of deftly avoiding eye contact in seminars equipped me well for this moment.
First up was the explosive Esther Manito with a hilarious set about motherhood which was somehow relatable to everyone, mothers or not. The second act, Jamie D’Souza was the standout performance of the night for me. As he loped awkwardly on stage in a white T shirt and jeans, I anxiously wondered whether he would make it through without being pelted by someone’s empty beer cups. I was again proved wrong: self-deprecating jokes combined with a deadpan delivery hit that sweet spot in British humour. Chelsea Birkby’s cheery set ranged from misguided fast-fashion purchases to Pitbull’s questionable song lyrics. The exhilarating first half dispelled all of my fears, and I was ready for more.
The acts in the second half kept this fantastic energy going – Rosie Jones had the audience completely spell bound and broke down so many barriers in the process (she opened by telling us that before she came out, she thought she couldn’t be disabled and gay). Angela Barnes brought the show to a close effortlessly – she looked so comfortable on stage. The balding, pot-bellied dedicated Tory next to me bristled when Angela correctly pointed out that Boris Johnson looks like he’s combed his hair with a balloon. He also furiously unbuttoned his shirt sleeves when she suggested that Jacob Rees-Mogg was surely a human experiment gone wrong. My conservative neighbour warmed up again, however, to hoot at the ridiculousness of washing machines installed with Wi-Fi, bellowing ‘here here’ as if from the benches of the Commons themselves.
This joyful evening was merely the finale of Jericho Comedy’s hard work over the last year. They raise money for Oxfordshire Mind at all their comedy events, this year making over twenty thousand pounds for the charity. I was thrilled to attend such a fantastic evening and at the same time be supporting such an important cause. Jericho Comedy is certainly one to watch. Just make sure you don’t sit near the front if you’re an accountant. TikTok or otherwise.