It's hot and cramped. The queue to get in is long and the line at the bar longer, writes Phil Barnett.

Yet this isn't just a Saturday night in one of the various so-called 'clubs' around Birmingham's Arcadian Centre. No, this is the Glee Club. Arguably the best comedy club in the country. And it is absolutely worth it.

Four comics, all revered on the circuit but whom most of the audience hadn't even heard of. Because that's not what the Glee Club is about; whoever is appearing, you know the standard will be exceptional.

And so it proved.

Andrew Bird reaffirmed my belief that the compere is often the best comic. Part warm-up man, part-ringmaster, skilfully holding everything together and keeping the crowd happy. Bird, a hugely talented stand-up in his own right, is a case in point.

His easy-going style and inoffensive but on-the-mark audience interaction was spot on, even down to his handling of one punter's startling admission that his date for the night used to be his babysitter.

First on the line-up was Dudley's Sean Percival. The former welder, an acclaimed comedy writer as well as stand-up, started on the right foot with his local links and self-deprecating style.

Yet he managed to avoid trotting out the old 'yam-yam' clichés and instead adapted to his crowd with clever 'in-jokes' which only us midlanders would appreciate. His routine in general, from obese children, to male pattern baldness, to horrible British holidays, was bitingly on the money.

Next up was the highly-respected John Maloney.

An award-winning veteran of Irish descent, the former teacher proved a refreshing throwback to old-school British comedy. Not Roy Chubby Brown or Jim Davidson style - where 'old school' is shorthand for tired, offensive, clichéd rubbish - but instead, a genuine, dry, naturally entertaining comedian with no quirks or gimmicks.

Finally, the headline act.

Dana Alexander is, certainly, a funny woman. A talented comic who is respected on the circuit, her routine went down well with the well-oiled Glee Club punters but the colleagues who preceded her proved to be hard acts to follow.

The Canadian relied perhaps too much on tired clichés about race and gender, using material and themes which sounded strangely familiar.

Nevertheless, her style of delivery went down well and everyone - the stags, the hens, the birthday boys and girls and the Glee Club loyalists - either went home happy or carried on to one of those naff 'clubs' nearby, knowing full well their night had already peaked.