First up tonight, Tim Child took us through a visit to Hungary in the 1990s that ended up being the party of a lifetime with two strangers, a river, and a bottle of palinka. Attila Szabó introduced us to Vladimir - the Russian father of the bride who wanted toasts, toasts and more toasts at his daughter's wedding. Attila Szigeti shared the pain of his struggles to get fit and no, I will never look at kettledrums again, nor will I ever hear the term 'big balls' without thinking of Mr Szigeti. Matt Tricks shared some intimate veterinary tales involving tweezers, puss, canine anuses, fake vaginas and rubber gloves. I'm going to pitch his take on artificial insemination to the Discovery Channel so you might get another chance to see it. Franc Anderson introduced us to the most lucid of beings - the one who even in times of fury and angst can manage to speak clearly and rationally - the Irish mother.
Going into the second half - the impromptu round - Franc stuck with his first topic, Truly Madly Deeply and took us with him to the mountains where we met two old ladies, a dog, a fallen climber and a pants full of s*&^. I challenge you to put all that together and make story - he did. It worked. Tim went to the audience with this two picks - rain stopped play and the revenge of the white cat. They wanted to hear about the white cat and, surprisingly from a man who confesses to be allergic to the feline species, he managed to put his feelings aside and deliver. Attila Szigeti was next up and he, too, asked the audience to choose. This time between how my shampoo changed my life and is 80s 70s and 60s music better than what we have now, and why? The audience went for shampoo and Attila started out by telling us about a trip to Nice - and how he'd forgotten to pack his shampoo. Unfortunately he then forgot to mention shampoo again and while images of a great white Scottish whale washing up on the beach in France were compelling, the judges wanted shampoo. For Matt, the audience chose to find out more about what he'd do if he were Mayor of Budapest for a day rather than learn about his worst cooking experience. If you're out walking and see castles of dog poop with little Hungarian flags sticking out of them... blame Matt. Last up, Attila Szabo picked not knowing when to stop and caterpillars. And the audience asked to see if he knew when to stop... he did. Mission accomplished.
The judges - Claudia, Maurice, Keith, Sam, and Patrick - did a stellar job and after working his magic, scorekeeper Jeremy Wheeler pronounced Matt Tricks as the final finalist for the 2014 GOTG. And it was a close call.
Matt went home with a trophy sponsored by the IHBC and a fabulously expensive bottle of Irish single malt, courtesy of Granthill Telecom Solutions (aka Young Malcolm). He has three weeks to prepare for the final on March 12.
A massive thank you to all who participated. To Steve for taking photos, Kath for doing the door, Ilona for taking the topics, the Cotton Club for giving us the venue, Hans and Julia for their roving mics, Jeremy for scoring, the judges for judging, the speakers for speaking, and the audience for showing up and adding another 95000 huf to the fund.
Details of the final and tickets and all that will follow next week. Just mark your diaries. If you're in Budapest on the 12th you won't want to be anywhere but the New Orleans!