Laugh For Ark serves up a comedy feast

Her cooking may be the butt of a few jokes, but when it comes to choosing the ingredients for a successful charity comedy night, Basingstoke mistress of mirth Jan Jack is an absolute master chef.

Laugh For Ark pulled in the pounds and produced laughs galore at the Apollo Hotel last Friday night as more than 150 Ark Cancer Centre Charity supporters enjoyed a first-class night featuring five super stand-up acts.

Laugh For Ark was organised by Jan and her team, with the backing of Ark Our Partner supporters Apollo Hotel and Unum, to deliver a boost for Ark’s £5million appeal that will help to fund a new NHS cancer treatment centre at Basingstoke hospital – and it certainly demonstrated that laughter is a great tonic in the battle against the Big C.

Ryan McDonnell was in sparkling form as MC, holding the various segments together with his cheeky smile and quick wit. He started by warming the room and audience up nicely before first man standing Ben Norris took to the stage.

Like all of the acts on this bill, Ben has previously featured at Jan Jack’s regular Laughter House Comedy Nights. He always delivers a first-class set, and he was definitely on top form on Friday, particularly with his tales of life as the dad of triplets.

Following this super first course, next up on the comedy menu was the double delight of leading lady Jan, performing one of her saucy musical comedy tales on the ukulele, ahead of a great set by Dan Kielty. His hilarious take on the pitfalls of shopping for the middle-aged man was a highlight of the evening.

And then it was time for the main course. Chris McCausland has appeared on Live at the Apollo on TV, and he was making a welcome return to Basingstoke as headline act at our very own Apollo.

Chris, who describes himself on Twitter as That Blind Comedian, hits the funny bone time and time again with a wide range of brilliant observational comedy. He is a king of his craft, and he always succeeds in giving his audience an entertaining, funny, and sometimes poignant, insight into his life and times.

All in all, this was a comedy feast to enjoy and savour, and for many members of the audience, who were first-time Laughter House attendees, it provided a great taster of the comedy nights that take place on the second Thursday of every month (except August) at the Apollo Hotel. The next one, featuring headline act Zoe Lyons, is on September 12.

With the fab five on the bill, the audience were always going to be heading home happy from Laugh For Ark, and the fact that well over £2,000 was raised for Ark was the icing on the comedy cake.

–Mark Jones