For many on the 14th of February, love is in the air, but for my friend and I, it was time to venture to The Exchange Bar for some laugh out loud comedy. The acts we went to see were The Northern Souls: Tom Short and Jack Gleadow – plus we ended up sticking around to see D’arcehole, Jo D’arcy a past teacher now working her way in the comedy circuit.

Drinks brought and comfy seats claimed, we were ready for the show. It began with Thom Short, a modest lad from Salford who began with what seemed like a shaky start due to nerves, but by the end of it, he seemed to settle in with laughs being gained and having being able to engage with his audience; having picked the comfy seats at the front (always a dangerous move) we were just a few members of the audience to be picked on. Not only did he use the audience to adapt on his jokes, but he was able to create laughs with his own material – from his dad being accused as a serial killer, to a story about a paedophile teacher and luring kids with biscuits, which we are not entirely sure if they were hob nobs or not, to a joke about baby changing and a hilarious story about a proposal outside a pawnshop. I felt Tom Short was able to learn from his failures and use them to strengthen his act. I was left with a huge grin by the end of it and was eager to see the next act.

Next to take the stage was Jack Gleadow, from Hull, and he most certainly made his presence known, using a kid scooter to make his way to the stage and a pink scarf hanging round his neck, Jack Gleadow was definitely interesting to look at making a statement with his skinny frame, braces and funky shoes.

Jack Gleadow began his act by calling two members of the audience to the stage. There were technical errors during his act, but they didn’t prevent Jack Gleadow from continuing as he used this to his advantage; it was hysterical and he had the audience in stitches. When the music finally started we were not left disappointed with Motorhead playing one assistant was stomping away in the background whilst the other held Jack Gleadows scarf leaving the remainder of the audience with a surreal and comical sight before their eyes. There were a few hiccups with Jack Gleadow’s act, forgetting of lines and a lack of confidence in his work but overall I think he played it off well, a few puns did not quite get the response I think he wanted but a few gags worked better than others; the creation of a musical instrument of inhalers as panpipes and the song ‘take my breath away’ playing in the background ticked me and a joke involving the popular dating app ‘Tinder’ with the assistance of music again I felt worked really well.

The two Northerners overall did not disappoint, maybe not the best but considering their age and how fresh they are it was not a bad performance overall.

Afterwards we stayed for the D’arcehole act, which ended up with all the seats being filled and some people having to share seats with friends. Jo D’arcy’s act was all about bringing her teaching experience and using it to make comedy. Seated further back this time, it was difficult to hear what was being said and also Jo D’arcy used a presentation, literally like the one you used to get in secondary school with the emoji’s and objectives included as well as the near to impossible to read text because of the colours your teacher decided to use made the font invisible. Jo D’arcy was a bubbly and loveable character who made teaching more fun within her act, bringing back memories of ‘AFOREST’ and using material from her teaching days to create humour as well as involving the audience as much as possible. However I felt overall the act lacked something and there would be awkward silences as times, maybe that is just something that happens no matter what is being taught but the act I felt lacked a certain spark, I would not be in a rush to see her future work anytime soon unfortunately. The jokes around particular government members such as Nicky Morgan and the use of children’s work was her strengths but the act as a whole needs working on, that said it was still a good way to end the evening.

After a positive start to my first evening of the Leicester Comedy Festival I am not deterred from going to see more acts. For those of you on a tight budget, I recommend going along to see similar acts such as these, they are a free/pay as you feel nights out seeing and supporting unknown talent, what more could you ask for? I know further events like these will continue to show at The Exchange bar and Manhattan 34 so if you get a chance go and make the most of the festival whilst it is still here and enjoy an evening full of laughter.