The judges were tough from the outset and the excuse of ‘I’m new at this’ was bandied around a lot at first but soon gave way to some solid and not-so-solid reasoning. It seemed as if everything from which soccer club the speakers supported to their ability to sing and dance and even their accent was up to be judged. With more than one hundred people in Smiley’s, it’s little surprise that the audience made its feelings known and wasn’t at all backward about coming forward with boos or cheers depending on the scores.
The impromptu round – speaking in public – was, as always, a little more exciting. Everything seems to hang on the topic pulled from the hat. First up, Richard, let the audience decide between Blue Moon and his First Kiss. No competition really. One of the judges was more than a little peeved that he didn’t reveal all: her name, how old he was, where it happened... The armchair gabbers – i.e. those sitting in the safety of the audience – had lots of opinions of what he could have done with the subject, but like a first kiss, this first GOTG impromptu is one Richard will remember for a while. Miriam, perhaps learning that giving the audience the choice isn’t always the best option, took a chance on her first pick – Is the age of chivalry dead? – and told us how some knight in shining armour helped her with one of her bags when she first arrived in Budapest airport. He picked it up and kept on walking! Mark had the misfortune to draw 18th Century Italian Opera on his first pick – and no matter what else he choose, he just knew that the audience was going to go with that. But in fairness, he tried to tempt them by drawing The art of tying a bow tie. They didn’t fall for it. He did get extra points for singing something vaguely operatic and he’d have gotten extra points from one judge had he been able to name even one 18th century Italian opera – tough judges – very tough subject.
Neck and neck after the first round, Patrick and Gaston were the ones to beat. Patrick drew the awkward Spa vs Wellness and the equally awkward Golden Globe Award. No prizes for guessing which the audience picked but they were left guessing when he launched into an account of football matches shown in the Caledonian. How were people to know that SPA stood for Scottish Premier Athletic (or some such) and that Motherwell FC had to change its name to Wellness when it went bankrupt? Inspired. Gaston stuck with his first pick – Bald men are better. He reckoned that being follicley challenged meant that you have to try harder – and as Mark had already cornered the singing market, Gaston showed us a few nifty dance steps. Judges were suitably impressed and despite their abuse of superlatives (cmon lads...if ‘excellent’ doesn’t warrant a 10, what does?) the cup went home with the right person.
Patrick showed us what the Gift of the Gab is all about: that ability to talk readily, glibly,
and convincinglyabout anything. He was so convincing that three notables (names omitted to save their embarrassment) actually wondered when Motherwell changed its name!
A huge thank you to all involved – to David Saddington for standing in for Jeremy (and no, they’re not related); to Kath and Csilla for doing the door; to Fun Palace for sponsoring the trophy; to IHBC for sponsoring the bottle; to Maiya (sp?) for taking the photographs; to the audience for coming out and supporting the event; to the judges for being so.... judgemental (it's a thankless job but someone has to do it!); to Smiley’s for the hospitality; and to the speakers for braving the stage.
The final is going to be one helluva night!