There was a 10 per cent drop in ticket sales at this year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival box office, possibly due to a lack of public interest or thriftiness as recession looms. But this gig at central London's world-famous Comedy Store was sold out.
The compère, Maff Brown, quickly warmed up proceedings by bantering with the front row, which tonight happened to be some American students. Refreshingly, he avoided cheap political jibes about George W Bush, and told a story about a text to his girlfriend that had the audience chuckling in empathy.
Then it was on to the energetic opening act, the Mock the Week panellist Russell Howard, who has a schoolboy face and a repertoire to match. He had the crowd in stitches as he reminded us all of long-forgotten childhood traits. He screamed through a brisk 20 minutes, keeping things just on the right side of immaturity.
Deafening applause introduced Sean Lock, from Channel 4's 8 Out of 10 Cats. A comedian who has clearly won over the public, he approached the stage with a lovable nonchalance and trotted out excellent witticisms about family life.
After a short break, the second half commenced with the calm Welsh tones of Lloyd Langford. He has a rich tapestry of jokes at his command, and delivered them with measured speed and a wide vocabulary. It was a winning mixture and the crowd adored him.
Next up was possibly the face of comedy to come, the winner of this year's Malcolm Hardee Award, Edward Aczel. He wandered on like he was looking for the toilet, and the audience chuckled in confusion as he read a list on his hand and held up a chart detailing walk-outs from previous gigs. It soon became apparent that Aczel's haphazard delivery is an act. By the end of his set, the doubtful titters were replaced with full belly laughs.
The headliner, Terry Alderton, literally danced on to the stage. His set was littered with weird voices, miming and impressively fast maths. But disappointingly, it felt a little tawdry and old-fashioned, and although the set flew by, this was because there was little material. He lazily picked on an audience member's chest and then proceeded with a joke that he admitted has never worked when he has tried it on numerous previous occasions.
Apart from the closing act's slightly tired routine, the evening was a triumph.
Ellie Quinn, receptionist, LondonReuse content