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The Tab Reviews: Comedyfest


Expectations were high as we sat down to watch the potential Mel and Sue of the future. Although we didn't find a distinctive Bake Off duo, the trio of acts confirmed that Durham can hold their own amongst the big players.

A slew of technical errors may have plagued each act but all three groups took it in their stride, demonstrating a confidence in keeping the laughs coming.

Here's our breakdown of each group's performance:

The Oxford Revue

Starting with a bang, Elaine Robertson's stand-up raised expectations for the set to a level that perhaps Oxford couldn't sustain. Like a duck to water, Robertson was clearly at home on the North East stage, going so far as to serenade us with a Geordie rendition of 'Part of Your World'. Jokes were relevant, funny, and entertainingly self-deprecating, appealing greatly to the largely Southern audience.

A series of somewhat forgettable sketches followed. Certainly memorable was a builder's advice that "If you respect women, they'll suck you off": questionably wise words from the bastion of higher education.

The set was redeemed by the erudite Meta Sketch, which in challenging Durham students' intellect proved Oxford's prowess in that department.

Overall, the Oxford Revue was left somewhat wanting in comparison to the sets that were to follow. However, they did have some gems and warmed up the audience for the rest of the night.

The Cambridge Footlights

Although undeniably pretentious in their presentation, the Footlights had a slick energy and unique charm which eclipsed that of Oxford. They were 'speechless', and impressively so. Physical theatre, multimedia and versatile use of a single prop throughout gave their act an edge.

Highlights included the dramatising of a packet of PomBears, the death of a human sized slug and the hilariously relatable farce of GCSE drama, as told by the Hungry Caterpillar.

In a questionably needless interruption to this speechlessness, perhaps our only qualm was to see a somewhat incongruous interview with Tinky-Winky – not quite funny enough to justify breaking the set's premise.

The Footlights lived up to their reputation and lit up the stage in more ways than one (the five luminous boxes greatly helping here).

The Durham Revue

As the self-proclaimed 'Durham Massive' took to the stage, the Durham-heavy audience were nervous to prove our parity with Oxbridge, something the league tables have thus far failed to do.

After a shaky and awkward start, they came into their own with a bold and funny set. Clearly at ease on home turf, their energy and enjoyment was infectious, evident through their just-visible boogieing silhouettes between sketches.

Consistent and simple, the Revue aroused good old-fashioned laughter with witty and relatable sketches. Funniest of all was a cringe-worthy audience-participation piece; what began as nervous laughter from the spared audience turned to genuine hilarity as the two victims got into the swing of it.

Despite some clever and entertaining moments, our only reservation at times were the somewhat lacking punchlines, with the endings of many sketches not as crisp as they could have been.

The night culminated in a hilarious crescendo of champagne glass playing "Oh Jeremy Corbyn!" and a mariachi playing tequila shot – a fitting end to an overall comical set.

Perhaps for one night, the Durham Revue proved that the University is worthy of the precusory 'D', added to the well-respected duo that is Oxbridge.