Babylon Disco

LOUIS SHANKAR finds that this two-man show manages to perfectly balance the absurd with the conventional.

Babylon Disco Cambridge Comedy Corpus Playrooms lol

I had high expectations for this show. Babylon Disco comes from two comedians, who have been involved in previously well-received comedy shows, including the current Footlights President. I was also hoping for something slightly refreshing, with an hour of sketches performed by just two people. And, thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed.

The show was slick and well put together. Sketches seamlessly transitioned from one to another, sometimes only through differences in tone and dialogue rather than explicit set/lighting changes. Little, one-liner bits revolving around puns and simple punchlines were interspersed amongst long, in-depth sketches that allowed for a build in humour.

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Both Tom Fraser and Seb Sutcliffe gave incredibly varied and nuanced performances, ad-libbing and improvising at times but never breaking composure. They worked off one another brilliantly, Fraser’s eccentricity often contrasted with Sutcliffe’s seriousness. Some work could probably be done with respect to their dancing skills, something they inexplicably chose to demonstrate at the start and end of the show.

The mysterious third member of the troupe – Ferguson, who had apparently come up with the unexplained name ‘Babylon Disco’ – was often mentioned, creating a strong, albeit strange, character despite his absence. Overall, though, the fact that there were only two people in each and every sketch made little difference: the diversity of writing and acting more than made up for this.

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Absurdist jokes featured heavily and was mostly successful. One three-parter featuring the performance artist Herr Floss was particularly eccentric, sometimes slightly too much. A fast-paced bit involving eBay and Wikipedia happened so quickly that there was little time to comprehend what was going on. I think it was funny but I’ve no idea why…

Audience participation was present and very well balanced. Having an unexperienced audience member dragged on stage and forced to do stupid things, while trying to be cool and not laugh, is always much funnier than it should be. Here, members of the front row – you have been warned – were employed as, amongst other things, a cameraman and a plant-pot during a sitcom pilot.

All in all, it’s a very funny show. What’s there is very well crafted and performed perfectly, although a few extra sketches would be nice.

Comparisons to the famous Cambridge/Footlights comedy double-acts would be slightly premature, but there’s definitely potential.

Four stars