Ben Pope & Lunchtime of Champions: Review

ALEX STRIDE tells us why Ben Pope & Lunchtime of Champions lives up to expectations

ADC Alex MacKeith Alex Stride Ben Pope Comedy Footlights jamie fraser Lunchtime of Champions review tab cambridge Theatre

Now that Ben Pope, Alex MacKeith and Jamie Fraser have left the uni bubble and and are vying for survival in the real world (if the London comedy scene can be described as that), I entered the ADC expecting to see something on a level above the usual sketches and stand-up offered at a footlights smoker. I’m pleased to say they didn’t disappoint.

Ben Pope filled the first half of the show with a stand-up routine which struck just the right balance between acute observational material and ridiculous analogy. Very few of the jokes fell flat, and where they did, his rapid declaration that he would “cut that bit” was usually enough to bring the audience back to the steady laughter which served as a backdrop to his entire routine.

The ex-Footlights make a triumphant return to the ADC stage

Such was the consistency of the laughter that Pope often found himself thanking audience members for giggling hysterically at points where he hadn’t even said anything funny. On top of that, he drew some sadistic laughs from his regular victimisation of a member of the front row, called David.

Moving on to Lunchtime of Champions, who were described as “Adam and Eve, if they had been made by Apple”, we were treated to a bizarre mix of short sketches, set in a narrative of domestic quarreling. The outfit performed with huge energy, and it was noticeable that the transitions in and out of sketches felt slicker than in most student shows, with good use made of lighting and switching positions on stage.

In a few years time…?

It is good to see that leaving university has not stopped Alex MacKeith exuding a cloud of absurdity wherever he goes, as we witnessed him snorting cocaine off the floor and singing a song about his girlfriend being a ghost. The pair, who appear to be gradually becoming the same person, had obviously invested a huge amount of time into their main joke, which had them skipping between various languages of the world throughout the set, and was delivered with excellent comic timing. The duo proved wrong anybody who thought that the Cambridge crowd was above laughing at foreign languages and people pulling silly faces.

As I am here to be critical, I would have to point out that Ben Pope’s set was punctuated with quite a lot of umm-ing and ah-ing, and that his sex jokes weren’t that great. Lunchtime of Champions could probably have done with more and longer sketches, as they seemed to be overshadowed by the quarreling, which did drag on at times. However, I am aware that I am judging the show in the light of the high expectations I had of it, and would say that, overall, it was a pleasure to watch.

74% – A Big First.