Amused Moose Laugh-Off Final 2013

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Steve Bennett

This is the culmination of the hunt for the best white male comic in their twenties with a sizeable budget for hair products... or so the line-up of this year’s final of the Amused Moose might have you believe. But with an emphasis on uncovering ‘star quality’, the competition has previously helped launch the careers of Sarah Millican and Jack Whitehall, which is a pretty decent track record.

Angus Dunican got the 2013 ball rolling with a loud and super-confident delivery, an ever-present laugh in his voice providing a prompt for the audience, but also something of an affectation. It’s easy to imagine him fitting a presenter mould. An actor as well as a comic, he taps into a rage at the the smug sense of entitlement of iPhone owners in a segment that’s more attitude than inventive writing, while also discussing such other familiar-sounding topics such as the provincial nightclub of his youth and automated phone systems But the prop he brings on stage makes him stand out, a car brake light cover he was handed by a tramp, explained by a quirky story.

Sean Cannon had a more natural – and certainly calmer – approach. But his slow pace of delivery can also be a drawback as the audience race ahead to the punchline before he gets there. His job envy for professional footballers and millionaire actor-singers leads to gags that are sillier than the build-ups suggest, but once he’s put the ideas out there, the taglines become predictable; and it’s the same with the material about how his depression is treated.

Pierre Novielle lives on the Isle Of Man, which provides him with a couple of easy ice-breakers. But he was born in South Africa, and the preconceptions that gives people provide rich fodder for a sharp and smart set about racism and how it impacts its on his life in unexpected ways (he’s white, by the way). Mother Africa also provides him with the most hilariously memorable part of the set, which ensures you’ll never watch The Lion King in quite the same way again. This was a slick, interesting and funny routine, and there really could be no other winner on the night. Well, afternoon...

Self-assured Alistair Williams played heavy on the laddish card – for which read casually misogynist. His set opens with a rape gag, quickly kills a prostitute then brands his stepmum a ‘dog’. He’s got a rough diamond charm that means he’d probably get away with it if the jokes were strong enough, but only one of them is. Instead he’s left looking like the funniest man in Wetherspoons, rather than a comic with an interesting point of view.

Alex Smith has some potential, with a quirky set that opens by rewriting a Savage Garden song to be more realistic, which unfolds with unhurried confidence. Similarly, the idea of using butter as a sexual lubricant delivers some unexpected twists, while the vision of an Oompa Loompa striding down the high street plays well with his mildly quirky demeanour. His persona needs to develop more, but the runners-up spot – which he shared with Cannon – seemed entirely appropriate.

Finally, Steve Bugeja, who is 23 going on 13. He has the vulnerable persona of an awkward, naive man afraid of his own shadow, giving him an inherently endearing quality. The material is patchy though, with an over-analysis of the grammatical error in that traditional warm Scottish greeting ‘get tae fuck’ going on too long and too obviously. However his closer drawing parallels between a food festival and a music one, formulaic as it is, contains some strong gags. He made a decent fist of the final slot, but not quite enough to be placed.

Review date: 12 Aug 2013
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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