Walking into the unsuspecting bar, you wouldn’t know from the outside that you were in the right place. Perched on the outskirts of Guildford, opposite a Waitrose that has caused local scandal, no one would expect to find one of the best nights I’ve had in my sleepy hometown.
Home for the holidays from a much livelier and student-orientated city, I didn’t expect much from a comedy night in Guildford – it was more of a chance to catch up with my friends than anything else.
But upon walking in I spied something that would make any night – they sold pies. They really knew the way to my heart.
It was a free for all finding seats, and we were late – I was immediately struck by the fear of being called on, which wasn’t alleviated by the host, Deborah Applebee, announcing that she was going to target the second row. Naturally, I was sitting in the middle of the second row. Joy.
Somehow I managed to remain unscathed from the socially-terrifying requirement to try and verbally spar with a comedian (for me about as much fun as physically sparring with a Navy SEAL), and sat back to enjoy the comedy.
The Boileroom offered an eclectic mix: Will Frankin, who might have been American, but his impressions were so good, no one was really sure; Tony Cowards, whose one liners didn’t have the stilted awkwardness that so many do; and headliner Dougie Dunlop, who rounded off the evening on a high, leaving me in stitches.
Despite potentially over-playing the “Surrey people are so posh” line, I had more fun with these smaller, local comedians than I have done at comedy events in London or further north. The stage was intimate, being only two metres away, and the interaction with the crowd (when I wasn’t praying that she wouldn’t pick me) let Deborah really connect with the crowd, opening us up to accept and enjoy some of the bawdier gags.
With pie (don’t eat beforehand), well-priced tickets, and truly hysterical comedians with no holds barred whatsoever, I think I might have found something worth coming back to Guildford for.