From dark comedy (possibly?) to light-hearted silliness (almost certainly!) It’s Chambers Touring’s There Will Be Cake at the Auditorium, Gilded Balloon at the Museum, at 21:00 on Tuesday 20th. Let’s see what the blurb has to say: “An all-star improv show from award-winning improvisers Marcus Brigstocke (Live at the Apollo, BBC Two), Rachel Parris (The Mash Report, BBC Two), Pippa Evans (Tonight At The Palladium, ITV) and Paul Foxcroft (Cariad & Paul). There Will Be Cake brings together four of the best improvisers in the country to play with your ideas. Each evening will be a brilliant, one-off, never-to-be-repeated, dazzling, hilarious, silly, exciting, dangerous, innovative show featuring real fire (candles). And there will be cake. Actual cake.”
We’re not normally that attuned to improvisational comedy, but the four comedy actors involved meant that this sounded just irresistible. I hope the cake is gluten-free. Check back around 10.15 pm to see how great (or otherwise) it was. By then the next preview blog should be available to read too.
Given we don’t normally care for improv, this was about as good as it gets. Four terrific performers who cram their sketches with brilliant characterisations and as much humour as they can. A winner!
This was our third comedy night out in four days, so don’t try and tell me we’re not funny. A different venue and venture for us this time; Abigail Burdess and Dave Tozer co-hosting an evening of comedy with three acts nestling around one decent interval and one emergency pause. The venue and the event as a whole has a real fringey feel to it that I find instantly appealing. As far as I can make out, the roles within the structure of the show are: 1) Abigail is the host and boss, welcoming us with some jokes and the ground rules, putting us at ease and inviting us to poke fun at 2) Dave, who is the butt of all jokes – and sound engineer. During the intervals we could either dance around Dave’s pole, or write on his forehead. I couldn’t possibly do either; after all, we went to the same school. Also I was sitting behind his mum, and I don’t think she would have been impressed.
As it was May Day Eve, Abigail and Dave were in full Morris Dancing rig up, complete with fertility rite hankies, although Dave was in ballet tights which I have to say I can’t quite recall from the days I used to follow the Oxford Morris Men… but that’s another story. Abigail and Dave did have some terrific material which they shared during the course of the evening, including what constitutes acceptable heckling, what is the old name for crowdfunding, and how did you meet people for casual sex before the days of the Internet. Having been around in those days I can authoritatively confirm for anyone who is in doubt, that it simply never happened. At all; by anyone.
Our first act was Ben Clover, with whom you can instantly sympathise, as he used to get some horrible nicknames at school; thus he decided to re-enact his coping strategies with the aid of members of the audience. I felt his pain having suffered similar embarrassment myself as a kid. Mr Clover is a naturally very funny man with a sunny disposition that comes from having met his partner through Guardian Soulmates. We loved his calculation that the more tolerant you are of minorities in society, the disadvantaged or those seeking refuge, the less likely you are to be tolerant of lactose, gluten, dairy and so on. It’s 100% a proven fact. He carried us along with his terrific humorous observations and the time just flew by. An easy and delightful way to spend half an hour or more.
Next up came Omar and Lee, a likeable pair of likely lads who ooze confidence and charisma and use it to their best advantage. Their opening section – where Lee is training Omar in the ways of how to be sexy – was occasionally hit and miss for me; some great ideas but something about it just didn’t quite connect. Obviously I am already sufficiently sexy not to have to take note, or I am so far off the mark that I would have to start with remedial classes. Others were guffawing madly all around, so I accept it was me who was off-kilter. However, once they got into their night-out mime routine I thought they were completely hysterical; beautifully inventive, skilfully choreographed and pinpoint accurately executed. I could watch that again and again. The act then moved on to Omar being visited by The Sacred Feminine but then taking it slightly more to heart than intended – which was really funny – and ended up with some pre-election advice with which I can only fully concur. We’ve not seen these two guys before but I was really impressed and look forward to seeing what else they can do.
Our final act and – as advertised, as seen on the telly – was Pippa Evans, a member of the Showstoppers team (whom we haven’t seen) but we had seen Pippa six years ago at a Screaming Blue Murder in her alter ego of Loretta Maine, when she absolutely aced it – and in fact she was runner-up for the Screaming Blue Murder Chrisparkle Award that year; so high praise indeed. Pippa is just a natural performer – she’s so comfortable at drifting into comedy songs that, when you look at her, you really do believe that life genuinely could be like a musical. She’s gifted with the accents too, so she can create some great moments of humour by descending into Australian or Geordie at the drop of a pint of Fosters. I loved her resting face charity material and also the two roles (just the two) with which she’s successful at auditions. A really fantastic routine and we were all left wanting more.
And more will come on the last Sunday of the month. Don’t think we’ll be able to make it, but if you’re in the area this is a bargain of an enjoyable Sunday night’s comedy. Great stuff!
P. S. I would like to add a personal note of thanks to whoever put together the background music at the start and during the intervals: how wonderful to hear Spike Milligan’s Q theme again.