Matt and Marc’s Shot in the Dark

BASIL FRANCIS is left in the dark by this novelty smoker.

Comedy glow sticks Jeff Carpenter Marc Shalet Matt Lim Octopus Shot in the Dark Smoker stripping

Corpus Playroom, 12th March, 9.30pm £5-6


The thought of having a smoker in complete darkness was an inspired idea. This was a one-off opportunity for some truly unique comedy. Unfortunately it was an opportunity wasted as the audience was made to endure wave after wave of sub-par performances.

Essentially, the evening was a mediocre smoker performed in the darkened L-shape that is the Corpus Playroom. The only other difference to a normal smoker was the abundance of references to the lights being switched off. But the main problem was simply that the calibre of student comedy at the gig was poor. Elaborate tales of student octopi and faux stripping – involving throwing rags into the audience – simply left me bemused.

Only a couple of performances shone through the darkness. The first gave an impromptu song while the second had the audience in stitches after lamenting their attitude towards his previous joke. In fact, I think that was the only time the whole audience laughed together.

These two aside, the rest of the acts were rather dim. Surprisingly enough, Matt Lim and Marc Shalet, hosts for the evening, were the least funny of the lot, milking the dark aspect for all its worth without coming close to being funny.

There were two consistently good aspects of the show. The first was Jeff Carpenter, who performed very apt improvisational music on the keyboard for the entire night, giving a sense of continuity and amiability to the show. The second was the darkness itself. At first I found the absence of light comforting to my eyes, but towards the end it proved useful for masking my expression of growing despair. I had contracted a sort of cabin fever; I no longer wanted to be in a dark room full of unfunny comedy.

As people entered the auditorium, they were each handed an envelope with ‘DO NOT OPEN’ written on them. These gave the idea that they were going to be used in an impressive joke with a big punchline. Instead, Matt and Marc simply urged us to open them at the end of the show, pull out the glow stick inside and wave them around. Great.

I feel those glow sticks were a metaphor for this show. I came along expecting something impressive, and left feeling like a buffoon. The fact that the funniest moment was a stand-up’s throwaway retort tells you a lot about the quality of the night. What could have been a novel idea turned out to be no more than a gimmick, leaving me extremely underwhelmed. I’d have been better off if I’d been kept in the dark about it.