ZULFIQAR ALI finds the ADC lateshow unafraid to make a break from convention, even if the convention is sometimes ‘being funny’.

ADC awkward Comedy Footlights lateshow necrophilia Pierre Novellie Ryan O'Sullivan Sketches taboos Zulfiqar Ali

ADC Theatre, 19th – 22nd October, 11pm, £4-6

Dir. Ryan O’Sullivan


Broody has an unusual premise for a Cambridge sketch show. The aim, for once, is not to demonstrate the cast’s ability to gurn discomfortingly at each other, but instead to make the audience feel awkward – a task it lived up to with entertaining aplomb.

An eerie start in which three masked characters promised to disconcert the audience and proceeded to insult a gay, Indian, black man in a wheel chair signaled that ‘dark humour’ would colour the evening’s proceedings.

A comic style that combines jokes on paedophilia, incest, necrophilia and public toilets may, more often than not, degenerate into a series of cheesy innuendos and remarks of bad taste. However, Broody seamlessly combined these sensitive subjects in a well-written and smooth-flowing script. Nearly every joke got a laugh, whether it was about a son blowing his ‘party horn’ as his mother gave him a ‘birthday treat’ or about the lingering warmth a stranger leaves on a public toilet seat.

Costumes and props were rarely employed; however, when they were used, they felt appropriate and convincing to the extent that they even managed to communicate one character’s penchant for paedophilia.

The cast gave a strong performance, and seemed particularly adept at pulling genuinely funny silly faces while still delivering dialogue in an audible manner – no mean feat.

However, while the show was good, it was by no means impeccable. The co-ordination between actions and special effects was horrible. Sounds often started playing while actors were still speaking and lighting was sometimes delayed.

Though the quality of the writing in general was decent, some of the sketches suffered from a basic un-funniness. A sketch centred around the idea of a detachable stomach fell completely flat. Where the writing was at its most original, it was, disappointingly also at its least humourous. Similarly, the cheap joke at the end of the necrophilia sketch was bland to say the least.

Quite often the jokes were predictable and no great amount of wit or intelligence was necessary to foresee the coming punchline. That these moments were funny at all was due to the beauty of their execution by the actors.

To sum it up, the show had a good script, excellent performers and sufficient innovation to make it stand out from the mass of underwhelming Cambridge comedy. However, it could have done a little more to improve its technical co-ordination and a certain amount of structural predictability. On the whole, it was definitely an enjoyable, unique show which I would strongly recommend to anyone who enjoys jokes made at the expense of society’s most cherished taboos.