Last year Mike Wozniak came out of nowhere to get a nomination for Best Newcomer. It wasn't much of a surprise when Sarah Millican won it (although the lack of nomination for Josh Howie was a surprise) but Mike was one of the surprise packages. This year his moved up to the the Pleasance Below, a painfully hot venue that Josh Howie had to struggle with last year. There are a few big fans in the room creating a bit of un-necessary noise (as they are not actually making a difference) yet perplexingly, Mike has chosen to perform without a, well, mike. He does have a strong projected voice for the most part but when he gets to quieter sentences it becomes a struggle to hear him, even just halfway back in the venue. Combined with the heat and no circulation this does have a negative affect on the gig. Three people did leave (one early one, the others two-thirds in) which I'm sure were in part due to the venue but also in part due to his style.
As far as this year's show goes, Mike is threading his stories around his father's 60th birthday and the science roadshow they create, starting at their home town of Portsmouth and ending, well, in Portsmouth too. There are four or five main routines loosely based about honouring his father, including a movie script, some science trivia, the science of fingers (that is not a joke) and interspersed with some hit and miss impressions of scientists. There is some subtle humour in his routines and if you can last that long, most get wrapped up quite well in his second movie script (the dream sequence). His movement around this stage is quite good, using the entire area and has a nice box to manage his props in. Given his movement I would imagine that he felt using a hand-held mic would be inhibiting but I can't imagine why he wouldn't have opted for a headset, a la Sammy J or Madonna. All in all his performs well but with the heat and slow material it is a bit of a trek. It feels like a free-form lecture from your Sixth Form Physics teacher (or more specifically my Sixth Form Physics teacher who also had a Nigel Mansell moustache). A better venue and perhaps a bit fuller set and he could have a bright future. As it stands, he is commended for returning after his Best Newcomer Nomination (as everyone should). Odd but Interesting Science-Teacher - 7 out of 10 or three stars (good but either get cheaper tickets or be a big fan).