Review: “Mind the Gags” at The Bloomsbury Theatre

The Tab found UCLU Comedy Club’s show overlong, but with a few bright moments


It may be Movember, but The Gower Line’s Mind the Gags needed a trim.

You certainly got your money’s worth with two and a half hours of gags, skits and sketches from the cream of UCLU Comedy Club’s crop, but comic timing does have its limits. Nevertheless, even if the final stretch was a bit exhausting there were plenty of invigorating laugh-out-loud moments.

 

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The Gower Liners in action

 

The Gower Liners, Aislinn Jackson, Rosalind Mocroft, Thomas Fenton, Lucie Trémolières and the brilliant Jack Tivey, would have made Monty Python proud with some of their potty ideas. They were strongest in the areas of punnery, one-liners and classic jibes at the likes of jazz fusion and History of Art students, but showed off flair and originality too. Tivey and Fenton’s homoerotic, Elvis-worshipping hick soldiers, the stomach-churning Eternal Mayonnaise Brotherhood and a breathtakingly confident circle of narrators narrating each other ad infinitum, stand out as beacons of nuttiness from their trio of acts that intersected two longer sketches.

The first, E.G.A.D.S. (Educated Gentlemen Against Distasteful Suffragettes) was a Victorian farce, one of its weaker points being that acronym. Deluded Edward (Oliver Marsh) leads his unlikely reactionary gang of three, after convincing them with a few horned diagrams, into the den of the beast by inviting three local feminists to dinner with the courageous intention of wooing them into submission. Simpering ensues, with some well-acted awkward flirting, but the feminists prove feistier than expected and execute a coup d’état just after the fish dish. Writer Emma Moren keeps things plain and silly, and all for the good, with wide-eyed chinless wonder Pip (Candice Green) coming to the profound conclusion that “we’re not any different really, apart from the squishy bits”.

 

A scene from E.G.A.D.S

A scene from E.G.A.D.S

 

The second sketch, The Spy Who (Platonically) Loved Me, as the slowest-paced act, did not benefit from coming near the foot of the bill. Oliver Marsh was reincarnated as the lascivious Sir, but by this point his in-your-endos and lick-lipping elicited more groans than giggles as he interviewed the hetero-romantic asexual Agent Andrew for a Human Resources position. A fresher audience was required for this one to really spark the laughs, although the Evil Professor’s (Tom Rees-Williams) poorly chosen punch lines were a clever touch amongst a muddled plot.

Especially in the case of the The Spy…, overly-convoluted premises proved flimsier than the traditional or the bizarre in Mind the Gags. Keeping things simple is generally the key to good comedy after all, and that’s exactly why E.G.A.D.S. was a success.

It’s also worth mentioning the proliferation of painful cockney accents, some approaching Dick Van Dyke levels of awfulness. I don’t believe that accent humour always has to be labelled as offensive or patronising, but it can be if it’s not done correctly.

Gor’ Blimeys and izzits aside, Mind the Gags did tickle the funny bone on various occasions, but the Comedy Club pushed its luck with the 150 minutes running time. Less would certainly have been more.