The first speaker up was Zoran Spisljak who used his five minutes to talk about the brain and in particular those voices inside our heads that do battle when we have a glass or two of wine. Next came Scott Alexander Young who continued the theme of substance abuse and shared some of his experiences as an actor (did you know the collective noun for a group of actors is a 'bitch'?). Viki Végh was suitably inspired by a previous impromptu topic (langós) and gave her interpretation of healthy vs hedonistic eaters. Hans Peterson meandered down a road that started with football, led to heart transplants, went on to talk about his mum's Internet dating success and then somehow came back again to football. Nourddine Hajjouj ended the first round with a compelling monologue on failure and how we should not fear it.
Heading into the second round, things were close. Viki went with her first topic Internet dating and gave an hilarious account of her experiences online, introducing (to me, at least) a particularly memorable phrase - digital suicide. Next up, Nour had to choose between horsemeat and the colour of the smoke at Vatican city. Unfortuately for him, the audience was in a particularly cruel mood and the man from Morocco (a country that's 8% Roman Catholic) fell foul of religion. No, Nour, the pope doesn't have a wife... Hans got to choose between plastic surgery and fitness and doing the Harlem Shake. And yes... the latter won out. And yet more education - I'd never heard of a meme before - and will now wonder which woman in what hotel first folded the loo roll into a neat triangle; and the Harlem Shake is not a dance! Zoran had to talk about either the dog in his bed or the worst date of his life. And, wanting to know the gory details, the audience went for the exposition. While the poor chap was waiting for this date to show up, he met and married the lovely Beth. Last up, Scott had to pick between two novellas - have you ever had a penfriend, and if so what did you write about or what in your personal history has led you to be on stage right now. It was penfriends all the way and apart from sharing inside leg measurements with a marine, we were left none the wiser as to what was said, although we did find out to whom it was said.
The judges - Kevin, Mark, Valerie, Gretchen, and Giovanna - were in fine form. Despite some minor heckling, the audience seemed to be in agreement that the best speaker of the night, and the winner of the 2013 GOTG was Mr Hans Peterson.
We had about 200 people in the room - some of whom were first-timers. The venue was spectacular and we added thousands to the kitty (thanks to Kath and Rupert for doing the raffle). The 2013 GOTG raised the grand total of 1 242 000 huf for the orphanage! A huge thanks go out to our sponsors: Zsuzsa and Patrick and the staff at the Caledonia who took care of the venue, ticket sales, and the tombola prizes); Charles and Elvi at Jack Doyle's for sponsoring the programmes and getting some raffle prizes; Dani at Guinness Ireland; Rob at Prime Cuts for the 10 000 ft gift voucher for the winner; Jason at FoxAutorent; the IHBC for the trophy, and Tim at Little Britain for the bottle of booze. A big, big, big thank you to the staff and management at New Orleans for giving the venue for free.
Additional raffle prizes were donated by Tim Child, Mary Nugent, Rupert Slade, Jameson, Dairygold, the British Pantry, Robert Burns Foundation, Firkin, and the IHBC. And nDairygold supplied the cheese samples Rob introduced.
Thanks, too, to the team - Steve, Kath, Rupert, Ilona, Jeremy, Dave, Zsusza, Patrick, Valerie, Linda, Bea, and Virginia - who all worked hard to make it happen.
A reminder to those of you who approached me last night with an interest in taking part in the 2014 event - email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with a photo and bio and then we can talk.
Enjoy the rest of the St Patrick's week festivities which feature the Irish Film Festival tonight, a gala dinner tomorrow night and then the parade on Sunday. I only hope the white in the tricolour doesn't come from snow!