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Push up champ dead!

By editorial assistant Sandi Toxic

Posted May 05, 2015
hugo first dies on stage at voicebox comedy in belfast
The king is dead: Goodfellow calls his solicitor as First gasps his last. © Ignatius Rake

Northern Irish push up champ Hugo First karks it defending crown in Belfast Voicebox shocker.

The world of professional push up championships is in mourning tonight following the tragic death of Northern Irish push up champ Hugo First, who collapsed while defending his title at the 24th Annual Northern Ireland Push Up Championship just over a week ago (24/4/15).

Staged in conjunction with the monthly Voicebox Comedy night at Loft on Belfast's North Street, the moustachioed Welshman's demise was initially subject to a news blackout due to the sensitive nature of the crimes involved.

"Yeah, sorry about that," eyewitness Ignatius Rake exclusively tells the Rake & Herald, which he also edits.

"I was on the piss round St Austell with Bang and Raver."

"But I'm back now for a bit, so waddaya wanna know, Sand?"

hugo first marcus keeley dr Christopher goodfellow at voicebox comedy belfast
Fighting fit: Moments earlier First was up for taking anyone on. © Ignatius Rake

"To be honest, I'm not sure where to begin," he begins, dribbling warm Guinness down both his chins.

"Things all started off fine at first, with First, or Hugo as I like to call him, introduced to the cheering crowds by Voicebox founder and compère Marcus Keeley, who also writes for us, and contest administrator Dr Christopher Goodfellow1 of the Department of Sport, Culture, Arts, Leisure and Determination (SCALD), who doesn't but probably should."

"A strapping lad dressed in regulation vest and shorts, First cut a dashing figure, explaining how each day he wakes screaming for his dead wife, whose name I didn't catch, with no idea when it will ever end."

First then revealed, Rake reveals, that his strict championship training regime saw him consuming nothing but a diet of eggs while simultaneously staring at pictures of his late good lady and crying a lot while presumably not passing many stools very often.

"Which all sounds very professional to me so naturally I thought he'd be OK," Rake slurs.

"In fact, I think we all did, which is probably why we laughed so much when he died."

"Mind you, Marcus and Goodfellow did a fantastic job of sweeping up most of his corpse, so I think First would've been pleased."

"You know, to go out on a high like that."

"Pass us them crisps, yeah?"

dr christopher goodfellow explains the rules at voicebox comedy belfast
Sod the Swiss amendments: Goodfellow explains the rules as Keeley drinks on. © Ignatius Rake

Anyway, according to that Rake bloke's childishly scribbled notes, Goodfellow "made it quite clear" from the start that the contest would abide by the 1937 Munich rulings.

As such, not only would the controversial Swiss amendments be deemed illegal but so too would "excess flanging" and something else I can't read.

Herons, possibly.

Exactly what the other registered competitors thought of all this, however, remains moot as Goodfellow then informed the crowd that they had all just been killed in a bus crash.

The competitors that is.

Not the crowd.

That would've been way too freaky.

Like some kind of Danish play in French or something.

Anyway, without a minimum of four registered competitors, Goodfellow warned, the whole contest would have to be ruled null and void, with all bets off.

George firehorse at voicebox comedy belfast
Magic moments: George Firehorse (left) was one of many well-funny acts. © Ignatius Rake

"I nearly shat myself when he said that," Rake reports excitedly, all bits of crisps and stuff flying out of his unbrushed gob like a little shotgun of shit.

"After all, I'd travelled all the way from my hotel to see this, so you can imagine how upset I would've been to think it might all get cancelled just because some bunch of selfish twunts had killed themselves with a bus."

"Thankfully, though, that Goodfellow's a pretty quick-witted bureaucrat, so he said he'd just pick a few challengers from the audience, which he did in between some flippin' ace stand-up acts from Chris Montgomery, Adam Laughlin, Mary Flanigan and the dazzling magic of George Firehorse plus a quiz hosted by Richard J that some bloke from Cornwall won after going head to head with a woman called Alina from Romania."

"It was tense stuff throughout but in the end I managed to score a point and win a copy of the Sun."

"It's very absorbent and doesn't smear it round the letterbox like the Mirror does so I was pretty chuffed."

"Still got a few sheets left as well if you want."

Anthony barrett at voicebox comedy belfast
Stickler for detail: Goodfellow checks Anto's action for flanging. © Ignatius Rake

The first challenger to be pulled on stage and forced to perform as many push ups in 30 seconds against their will as possible was Anthony 'Anto' Barrett, a Belfast comedian with a proven ability to perform his trade both inside and outside a cupboard.

Stripping down to his clothes, Anto wasted no time in adopting the prone position as the rules were once more clearly read aloud by the steely-eyed, steely-voiced Goodfellow.

"Then the timer thing started and there was all this music, like out of Rocky IV or something, and Anto found himself mentally alone, his body battling gravity and time itself in the manner of some Herculean Titan doing push ups against the clock," Rake says, picking his teeth with the same finger he just scratched his arse with.

"Ten seconds, 20 seconds, then all 30 were up and Anto, exhausted but exhilarated, was told to piss off back to his seat as Goodfellow carefully recorded his tally in a ledger that looked like a clipboard with its own cover attached."

"I was really impressed, to be honest."

"I'd never seen a clipboard like that before."

"If you could get them in Cornwall, I'd defo buy one."

"I bet it's a real boon in the rain."

brent at voicebox comedy belfast
A valiant attempt: Brent looked like he'd done this kind of thing before. © Ignatius Rake

adam Laughlin at voicebox comedy belfast
As did Adam Laughlin: Albeit a very long time before. © Ignatius Rake

Clipboards aside, this cycle of pushing the human form to the very limits of physical endurance in half a minute was then repeated a further two times as first a man known only as Brent or possibly Brett took to the stage before being followed by the aforementioned Adam Laughlin.

"All three competitors were pretty good," Rake continues, opening another packet of crisps.

Salt and vinegar this time.

"That Brent or Brett bloke in particular looked like he'd done this thing before and would probably have been the bookies' favourite to snatch First's crown but at the end of the day all three screwed up because of their sheer lack of discipline."

"Each time a heat started, Goodfellow stressed that the Swiss amendments were verboten but did anyone listen?

"Did they fuck!"

"Goodfellow might as well have been talking to a field of phlegm so I reckon it served them right when he marked them all down."

"After all, rules are rules and they must be obeyed because that's what keeps us from living like animals."

"That and trousers."

"Anyway, thanks to their anarcho shenanigans, First only had to do a total of three legitimate push ups in 30 seconds to retain his title."

"And fair play to the man, he certainly got off to a cracking start!"

"After 20 seconds he'd executed two precision push ups in perfect compliance with the Munich rulings."

"Graceful like a songbird yet powerful like a tiger, there seemed to be no stopping him."

However, it was then that things went "horribly wrong".

the ghost of hugo's wife appears at voicebox comedy belfast
Love beyond the veil: Hugo's dead wife popped in for a chat. © Ignatius Rake

"At first, I thought he'd got cramp in his jaw because he suddenly cried out that he couldn't go on, but his pain wasn't physical," Rake drones on like a dentist's drill.

"Well, maybe it was because his heart had just literally broken in two, it turns out."

"Metaphorically, anyway."

"I know because he began crying for his dead wife, whose name I still didn't catch, weeping and squalling like a little kid who's lost his smack."

"Then the freakiest thing happened."

"Time seemed to stand still then suddenly there she was: his wife, large as life but all dead and ghostly."

"Kind of like in a dream but dressed in her wedding dress, a vision of love bathing the audience in a radiant glow of golden light."

"Eerie, ethereal music filled the room – Delilah by Tom Jones, I think – and then she said something about love or something but to be honest, I wasn't really paying much attention at that point because I'd just finished a can and had to open another."

"Anyway, the thing is, when time returned and I'd wiped the froth off my hand, she'd slipped back to the unseen world, but I tell you, First was like a new man."

"Rippling with energy he was."

"Well, until he died a few seconds later, which was a pity really because I was hoping to get his autograph."

"Still, at least he managed to squeeze out that third push up to retain his crown, I suppose."

"Shame, though."

"I could've sold it on eBay for a tenner."

"Maybe more now he's dead."

hugo first's corpse at voicebox comedy belfast
RIP Hugo First: Fair play. His body lay there for hours. © Ignatius Rake

Hugo First has since been buried in woods outside the city. It is hoped an inquest can be avoided.

See also The push-up champ speaks, posted 15/4/15.

Stay tuned for a full report on comedy in Belfast that will appear here on the comedy-tastic Rake & Herald in the coming weeks and which will include reviews and the like of Voicebox Comedy, Yardbird Comedy and Monday Night Comedy at the Pavilion Bar.

Sandi Toxic
was raised by wolves inside a disused clay pit near Lanjeth. You can befriend her on FaceBook here. She is still quite feral.


1) Dr Christopher Goodfellow is the alter ego of local comedian Aaron Marshall while Hugo First was actually Kieran Majury in a pound-shop moustache, with his spectral wife generally known on the earthly plane as Caitlin Magnall-Kearns.

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