REVIEW: Have I Got to Mock the Buzzcocks For You?

An all-star showcase of comedy, buzzers and the occasional parrot

Cambridge comedians Comedy Hadyn Jenkins Have I Got News For You Have I Got to Mock the Buzzcocks for You Ken Cheng Lily Lindon Mock the Week panel show University of Cambridge

Cambridge has taken on the panel show – or, more accurately, it’s taken on every panel show.

The efficiency is admirable. Come to the ADC at 11pm today or tomorrow and you’ll find six of Cambridge’s funniest people being put through their paces by host / evil mastermind Lily Lindon, as they compete through a series of copyright-veiled games (“Just a Little More than 59 Seconds” being a highlight).

It’s a rambunctious showcase of comedic talent, full of quips and questionable dancing – and it’s guaranteed to provide a hilarious night out.

“Host / evil mastermind” – Lily ‘Fry’ Lindon. (Image credit: Hadyn Jenkins)

Apart from the games and prompts, the show is entirely improvised, and the panellists alter from night to night, giving the show an incredible freshness and vibrancy.

All the panellists are established names on the Cambridge comedy scene, but the quality of improv will make you sceptical that it’s not scripted – opening night included everything from Ashleigh Weir inventing a song on the spot to corroborate her story in “Whose Lie is it Anyway”, to a debate on whether 100 sheep are, in fact, too many sheep (consensus: yes).

The show was good from the off, but it got even better as it progressed and the rapport between team members improved. Certain running jokes were built on until they became uproariously funny, particularly one deadpan recurring joke by Aurélien Guéroult about his grandfather’s 300 parrots. Lindon is a capable and charismatic host, involving the audience in contentions about points and occasionally flirting with the technician, but she mostly lets the panellists get on with it and strikes the right balance between performer and host.

Aurélien Guéroult, man of many parrots. (Photo credit: Amelia Oakley)

I couldn’t pick a standout performer from the opening night – all six comedians exhibited an amazing level of professionalism, and having seen a Smoker or two in my time, I was stunned that the quality of their improv beat out a good deal of scripted comedy I’ve witnessed here.

Yaseen Kader’s deadpan, pedantic delivery shone, while Sam Knights and Ashleigh Weir are the masters of the raised eyebrow, with Knights’ incredulous expressions in particular always guaranteed to raise a laugh. Every performer is allowed their moment to sparkle.

Part of the show’s charm is in how the different performers bounce off each other, with some of the funniest moments coming from pairings (such as Ken Cheng and Sam Knights’ utter butchering of every song they attempted, or Weir and Sarah McCready Smith’s rousing duet of “Defying Gravity”). I’m intrigued to see how changing up the teams will change the dynamic of the show and I think it’s a clever directing choice.

Buzzcocks’ panelists are drawn from the finest Cantabrigian comedic stock. Above: Ken Cheng. (Photo credit: Amelia Oakley)

What would I change? Not much – any “rough-and-readiness” I could criticise in other shows is turned around brilliantly in Buzzcocks, because any small technical flaws or spilled water bottles become something else to laugh at. Lindon’s delivery of her prompts could at times be a little more natural, but she handles a difficult hosting job deftly.

This is a wonderful, wonderful show and you would be doing yourself a disservice to not catch it if you can – it’s a great way to appreciate how genuinely talented Cambridge’s student comedians are. And maybe you’ll learn something. Like what “mastication” means. Or what it sounds like it means.

(The show was so funny that I’ll even forgive Sam Knights’ middle finger directed towards The Tab. This time…)

5/5 stars