The judges were in fine fettle. At one stage it sounded a little like a round of series critiquing from an international speech competition ... but duly oiled, after the break, things loosened up a little when our five speakers returned to try their hand at impromptu speaking.
Michael asked the audience to choose between the most interesting facts about Irish pubs and crazy people on the tram. Associating a tram ride around Budapest like a horse moving on a chess board was inspired. We heard a lot about trams and such, but the crazy people were conspicuous by their absence. Gordon also went to the audience with his two picks: singing opera and oral hygiene. No prizes for guessing which they went for and now everyone knows what a filthy mouth Gordon has. Bea was asked whether she'd apply for a job that involved a one-way ticket to Mars or to talk about Scottish Independence. She went to Mars wondering how old she'd actually be when she got there! Henry stuck with his first pick - intermittent fasting - and for the second time in one night, gave us something to think about. We're all now on the road to being super rich and healthy and skinny. What's not to like? When Virginia asked the audience to choose between public transport and an itsy bitsy teeney weeney [yellow] polka dot bikini there wasn't much doubt which she'd end up talking about. And her account of people-watching at the Lukas baths was enough to secure her place in the final in March.
We've come a long way since the first series way back when we had just one woman in the final. This year we will have three. Go the sisters!
A huge thank you to our sponsors Ken White, for the bottle of booze; the IHBC for the trophy; and the Cotton Club for the venue. Thanks go also to Steve for taking photos, Kath for doing the door, Csilla and Gretchen for managing the floor mics, Ilona corralling the suggestions, and the inimitable Jeremy Wheeler for keeping score and heckling the judges.
It is the randomness of the judging that puts the slam into speech slam and last night was no exception. Matt, Kath, Giovanna, Balazs, and Marcus... hats off to you for giving it your all.
See ye all next month, February 19, same time (7.30) same place (Cotton Club) for the final qualifying round.