REVIEW: Comedy Weakly

Rory Sachs thought Comedy Weakly’s fast-paced hour of one liners and surreal stereotypes will fit in with the Late-Show crowd.

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Comedy Weakly follows the disgruntled crew of Britain’s ‘best-loved Panel-show’ Comedy Weekly, hurriedly and haphazardly preparing for the last-ever episode of their show.

In a similar vein to other Late-show Cambridge Comedies, this student-written affair thrives of off a mash-up of caricatures, topical humour and well placed one liners.

The show follows the ill-fated attempts of Nick and Susan (played by Ferdinand Holley and Xanthe Burdett) as they try to balance the behind-the-scenes mishaps of Comedy Weekly’s production, with the arrival of their eclectic mix of eccentric comedians, and their high profile guest-star, the current British Prime Minsiter (think a mish-mash of Theresa May with some extra jokes about career politicians thrown in).

Each ‘comedian’ lends themselves to either a real-life counterpart (or amalgams of a few), with Timothy Oldsblossom resembling a Nick Parsons Just a Minute regular, Jess Gloss a bouncy, left wing Sue Perkins parallel, and Spunky Andrews representing the swath of confident, slightly immature, middle class white inbetweener-generation comedians who scratched their heads when BBC Three was criticised for lacking diversity and representing an ever-narrowing group of people.

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If a tad overacted, which isn’t necessarily a criticism for a comedy reliant on surrealism and caricatures, the play was carried by its two leads – Ferdinand Holley and Xanthe Burdett – who had enough energy to bring the play through to its climactic-conclusion without any scene changes. A particular nod to Rox Middleton, who played Jess Gloss, for being particularly bouncy and energetic throughout, who comes to prominence as the play goes on.

The real mastery of the play was in its direction, with Josh Cleary creating a live-action, fast-paced hour of haphazard events, none of which felt stilted, showing a high degree of care over how the stage was used and where each character was in relation to each other.

Colin Rothwell‘s script had the difficult task of emulating the Radio Four comedy-style (think of anything by John Finnemore for a good reference point), which for the most part delivered a topical and timely script which went down well with the audience, including the rather delightful reference to Brexit as the *second* greatest political disaster of our time.

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For all of the scripts zingers which left the crowd in stitches, the potential meta-elements of the play (“we’re making a comedy about a comedy”) and the opportunity for self reflection of thespian stereotypes was side stepped in favour for more limp jokes aimed at the Techie world of student-production, which made a far easier yet lower-hanging target.

And while the heights of the script hit its Radio Four ambitions, at times it felt like they were trying too desperately to fit the bill, making jokes about a fictional popular smart phone App ‘Balloon Fever’ akin to Candy Crush Saga which felt misplaced, as if they had actually come from an out of touch group of 50-year-old British comedy writers.

While rough around the edges, this play is sure to entertain the Late Show crowd.

Rating: 3/5 Stars