First up, Gretchen Meddaugh took us on a tour of Budapest listing her top five museums dealing with the macabre. If you want to know where to find a cookbook for the dead, just ask her. Or perhaps see xrays of a Karinthy Frigyes's brain tumour. Next up, Csaba Kötcsei regaled us with his version of Speed, minus Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock. Buses losing wheels in Tatabanya and Csaba saving the day by throwing some nuts across the highway. Ya had to be there! Balázs Toth, father of Max, he who derailed global satellites by lobbing his pacifier into outer space, spoke of the trials and tribulations of parenthood. Joe Murphy talked movingly about the importance of telling those nearest and dearest to us that we love them before it's too late. The audience didn't know whether to laugh or cry and, I suspect, some might even have done both. Mark Weston was out to get points (his words, not mine!) and wove a delicate balance of English/Irish/Scottish jokes into 19 years of living in Budapest.
First round over, and we had a three-way tie so Gerard Lucey (standing in for Jeremy Wheeler as scorekeeper extraordinaire) had contestants draw lots.
First up was Balázs and he stuck with his first pick: time management. Sharing speaking experiences of old, it was hard to imagine that he once said nothing ... for five minutes... on the subject of grasshoppers. Next up, Mark also stuck with his first pick: the man in the mirror. He unexpectedly struck a serious note as he entreated us to give to the world, to have liberal spirits, to take a look at what we see in the mirror and be sure we like what's reflected. For Csaba, the audience got to choose between best holiday ever and hops or barley. For a man who didn't know what hops and barley are used for, he did a fine job of pulling it together, and even brought back the bus! Joe Murphy also asked the audience to decide for him, this time between college people and why men disappear. We'd had an insight into Joe's mind in the first half so his rousing tribute to women, and how we rock the world, was both poignant and funny. You da man, Joe! Gretchen opted to stick with why women need to take the first step - or do they? and, I suspect, knowing some of the women in the room, she might have been preaching to the converted. Judging by the action at the bar afterwards, her advice struck home.
It was close. Very close. The judges - Vicki, Tamás, June, Howard, and Ken - definitely put the 'slam' into the evening leaving the audience wondering at times if we'd all been in the same room. But that's what makes GOTG a speech slam and not a speaking competition. Gretchen has taken her first step and goes through to the final in March.
It was a great night - we raised 91 000 ft on the door and the lovely Carrie Murphy topped us up to 100 000 ft. I just love round numbers. Thanks, Carrie!
Thanks, too, to Tim Child from Little Britain for the bottle of Jameson, to the IHBC for the trophy, to the Cotton Club for the venue. And, as ever, to those who make the night work: Kath for doing the door, Kris and Zsuzsa for taking photos, Gerard for scorekeeping, the speakers for speaking, the judges for judging, and the audience for being there and supporting the cause.
We have a full programme on October 16 but don't worry - we still have spaces in November, January, and February. Don't leave it too long though - get off the fence and sign up. You know you want to!