REVIEW: Have I Got to Mock the Buzzcocks Ja Vu: A Panel Show Sequel
Dear the Buzzcocks team: us wretched perpetrators of scum and villainy are big fans.
After thoroughly enjoying last year’s ‘Have I Got to Mock the Buzzcocks For You’, my expectations were sky-high for the sequel.
And it didn’t disappoint. ‘Mock the Buzzcocks’ is an homage to / parody of many popular panel shows, where two teams of three comedians, led by maverick host (who May or May Not Be Dating the Guy in the Tech Box) Lily Lindon, play rounds such as Would I Tell the Truth to You? and Just a Little More Than 59 Seconds, but with a twist – the entire show and all the players’ performances are completely improvised, and different comedians from a total group of 12 perform on each night. Audience participation is a significant part of the show, too; audience members may call out or write in suggestions for topics at certain points in the night.
Unless you are maxed out on SSRIs or in a literal coma, you are not going to get through the evening without laughing yourself into some level of pain. I didn’t see all the comedians – Ashleigh Weir, Henry Wilkinson and Patrick Sylla are picking up the torch on Thursday 20th, while Riss Obolensky, Aurelien Gueroult and Enrico Hallworth are joining the fray on the 21st – but the ones I did see were so quick off the bat with their responses that you almost don’t believe it’s unrehearsed. Every game is funny, though verbal charades was a little simplistic and the improvised rap battles felt like the only element of the show that was above the performers’ improv skills (though the terrible rhymes added to the overall comedy), but certain games produced some of the funniest material I have had the privilege to be exposed to in Cambridge. And I’ve been annoying the Cambridge comedy scene as a reviewer for over a year, so I’ve seen a lot.
‘Sex with me is like Monopoly; it goes on for so long that you wonder what the point was’ and ‘Sex with me is like an aeroplane; it got a lot worse after 9/11’ (both the inimitable Yaseen Kader) are particular highlights of my favourite game, ‘Whose Sex is it Anyway?’, though Just a Minute was also brilliant – and elevated by the hilariously quick-witted Colin Rothwell – and the beginning homage to Would I Lie To You played off the comedians’ main strong point, other than comedy: their chemistry as a team. The incorporation of audience participation was usually deft and added much to the show, from Louise Harris and Colin Rothwell having a father-daughter rap battle about allowing Harris to get a clitoris piercing (‘You won’t get to see it!’) to the pre-programmed Brexit alarm being triggered, prompting me to ask ‘Is there also a Trump alarm?’ There was. It was beautiful.
Rothwell and Kader were also present in the last show and they were the dominant comedic presences here, both being razor-sharp and inspiring Buzzcocks’ most uproarious laughter, but all of the panelists deserved to be on that stage and the mix of comedic styles provided a varied and engaging show, from Megan Gilbert’s knowing snark to Patrick Wilson’s good-natured observational comedy, such as when he and Lewis Brierly were rap-battle paired as twins (‘One of us had a hard life’). Lewis and Louise were less active but still at home within the improv format, with Louise being the best improv rapper by a mile and Lewis dealing in light-hearted, pithy asides throughout the show. Lily Lindon kept the show on track with a haphazard, mischievous energy, and her Possibly or Possibly Not Boyfriend Haydn Jenkins kept the tech unobtrusively seamless.
You will really be missing out if you don’t go and see this; the freedom it gives some of Cambridge’s best student comedians is unique and inspires creativity, with the impromptu asides and stumbles proving almost as funny as the main body of the show. It’s on at 11PM at the ADC from now until Saturday, and this is better than sleep. It’s amateur in the best sense of the word, because the fact that they can come up with this stuff off-the-cuff means you get an actual sense of the levels of talent, skill and passion that student comics pour into their craft.
And, to the dear Buzzcocks team: us not-Buzzfeed not-Varsity terrible wonderful hacks wish you all the best, and we’ll be there at your next collective endeavours in student theatre. Watching. Waiting.