The Argus: fringe_2011_logo_red_thumb Every new comedian has to start somewhere, and this was a good baptism.

The packed-out downstairs was populated with families and friends of performers, but not exclusively. About a quarter were possibly there to see brand new comedians and potentially stumble across someone special.

A line-up of 13 comics each performed a short set and was expertly compered by Rob Heeney. His decade on the circuit instantly showed, but some of these “stand-up virgins”, to pass on the crass but accurate term, weren’t far off the mark.

Jo Public’s cynical lesbian tales with Pat Butcher attitude had the audience in stitches, while Nathan Kail looked like a natural.

Later, Kayo Opebiyi executed some profound jokes about his alleged treatment by police and customs over the years to good effect.

Mark Barrowcliffe opened the last section, raising the roof before Fraser Geesin hinted at a more laid-back Jack Dee. There were no prizes for spotting the smile of Peter Kay or ghost of Tommy Cooper in Mike Cox, who rounded things off well.

Given the proliferation of comics out there, you could do a lot worse than this.