Brighton Comedy Festival Gala, Brighton Dome

Brighton rocks with laughter
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The Independent Culture

Comedy festivals are now ubiquitous and countrywide with each one keen to stress its USP. The Brighton Comedy Festival's jewel is its opening gala that has a good track record of attracting household names, this year's big draws being Alan Carr and Michael McIntyre.

"You're in a funny mood tonight, Brighton," remarked Carr, tonight's MC, acknowledging the initial sense that he was failing to ignite the occasion. He got into his stride with an observation on the way some women try on dresses for length by almost goose-stepping in them: "Where are you wearing this to – a rally?"

Seann Walsh, a local boy, made tonight's first waves with the popular theme of how stressed Londoners are, marvelling at their ability to fall asleep on the Tube, but was equally free revealing his own shortcomings that included running out of breath by merely grating cheese.

Fast-risen new star Andi Osho's charismatic performance allowed ordinary material to thrive including her suggestion that during the next Olympics foreigners will be as welcome in the UK as "R Kelly at Prom Night".

Phil Nichol bounced on stage next and set about deliberately losing control of his clothing through his exertions. Decorum was momentarily restored before he launched into a raucous song about offending people, "You Can't Say That to Me", where various folk, including a "deaf bi-Asian teenage albino", laid claim to being excused from any kind of insult no matter how trivial.

Freewheeling and freethinking Irishman Tommy Tiernan compared following Phil Nichol to "trying to read a book after being on a rollercoaster". The momentum from this notion took Tiernan neatly to a routine about his inability, as a 40-year-old man, to deal with the sexual needs of a much younger woman likening the idea to "making love to a salmon".

Simon Evans from Hove sported a suit and a tie that accentuated his similarity to an RP news reporter and among his headlines was his concept of "CSI Hove". If the idea ever made it to TV, he said, it would involve: "Forty-eight deaths, and every single one due to natural causes."

As if to brush aside his relative unknown status, Irishman Neil Delamere hit the ground running with some surefire material: "Only a member of Boyzone could do a cover version of his wife," is how he summed up Ronan Keating's marital indiscretion of May this year.

Still afflicted by the tics of a club comic, Jason Cook can still paint vivid and funny pictures with his main thread tonight being the fear of his wife's "fertile days" where, after sex: "I am the one that needs a cuddle."

Finally, Michael McIntyre rewarded an eager crowd with an all too short stint that glided blissfully along before having to gather momentum all over again by which time he was off. In his 15-minute set, he concluded this breezy comedy event by giving us the worrying idea that visually impaired people could guess at eye tests: "I did say P first!" and on being told they had passed exclaiming: "I can drive!"

The festival continues to 23 October (