First up, Peter Temesvary told us of his first ever public speech that literally brought the chandelier down. Daniel Stalter talked of his first ... first ship that is, and regaled us with stories from the Navy. Matty Ryan, in what, to my mind, was one of the best true GOTG-style speeches I've heard in a long time, posed the philosophical question: What's the difference between a duck? Miklos Morandini caught all our attention with his opening line: What are the Irish doing in Budapest, and a speech that netted him 49/50 points. Gordon Cross took us through the circle of life from a shepherd's perspective and, in his inimitable tongue-in-cheek fashion, gave us all an education.
The judges - Francis, Patrick, Pat, Charles, and Julie - were in fine fettle, a fettle that fermented as the night progressed.
In the second half - the impromptu round - the audience went for the first kiss over stage fright and Dan was back talking about firsts again and we now know he has a thing for brunettes. For Peter, they chose speedos vs shorts over the revoking of diplomatic immunity. Did you know they have snake-rearing farms in Lithuania? Matty could have spoken about keeping fit, but the audience went for farting in public - getting old. Gordon was saddled with being stuck in an elevator with a stranger - which has happened three times in reality - rather than having to talking about pretending to like his job. Miklos drew two clangers: what to do when grandpa tells the same story for the 100th time and pain barrier. The audience went for the latter and he went for orienteering.
With just one point in it, Miklos took the prize and will be joining Gerard, Jennifer, and Steve at the final in March.
Thanks ever so to our sponsors: Jack Doyle's for the bottle of booze, IHBC for the trophy, and the Cotton Club for the venue. Thanks, too, to Beth for doing the door, Ilona for the impromptu topics, Kristof and Tamás for doing the mics, and to Jeremy for doing what he does best.
We raised a whopping 152 000 (thanks to a very generous donation from the wandering Irishman Pat Davitt). And you can bask in the glory of knowing you did your bit for the orphanage.
February's venue is up in the air. The Cotton Club will be closed. If any of you know of somewhere (free) that will take 100 or so people and has a bar, let me know ASAP. Cheers.