Venue: Joshua Brooks
Where: Manchester

Gillian Ferrari (solo performer Zoe Matthews) has developed a successful autobiographical stand-up routine based upon her early years in the business and her dysfunctional relationships. We compare her polished routine with her disastrous first gig when she took up comedy as a form of therapy – to meet new people.
 
Matthews excels as the urbane and relaxed version of Gillian. She has a dry method of delivery that is perfect for a late night comedy show. Her timing and vocal impressions are excellent.
 
Director Alan Rothwell seems uncertain whether the earlier incarnation of Gillian is to be played for laughs or pity - resulting in an edge of desperation to the scene in which she makes her debut .A lack of imagination results in Matthews jumping from centre to side stage to visually indicate whether Gillian’s monologue is internal or external. Surprisingly, considering the intimacy of the venue, little effort is made to interact with the audience.
 
There is also a lack of ambition in the show. Trevor Suthers has written a monologue which is very funny but concentrates on a single character so that wider aspects of comedy – what motivates people to try stand-up and what audiences find amusing – are not addressed.
 
1st First Rule of Comedy is a modest yet entertaining show; but with such a good performance it is frustrating that much more is not achieved.
 
- Dave Cunningham