Pulling together writing, directing and performance into a slick sketch show is not easy - unfortunately Comedy Soc missed the punchline a little too often this time round.
Comedy Soc brought their annual charity sketch show – this time punnily titled RAGatouille – to the Annex as part of RAG’s Big Give 2015. Following the huge success of their recent collaborative show The Comedy Fridge, expectations among the audience were high.
Said audience, unfortunately, was a little sparse – the charity show has packed out the Annex in previous years – and this meant that even some of the best jokes through the night didn’t receive the raucous laughter that they deserved. The improvisation sections that broke up the sketches also fell flat at times due to lack of that vital rapport with an audience.
It wasn’t all bad. Between some solid writing and some genuinely hilarious performers, the better sketches did a good job of holding the show together. The opener, ‘Sports’, written by Aidan Pittman and performed by himself and Andy Sugden offered a hilarious parody of sport television shows, working with some obscure and fantastical elements to mock the genre. Pittman’s writing was prolific through the show – he has a clear talent for brilliant original humour, never relying on tired tropes for laughs.
The theme of parody television was brought to outrageous heights with Gracie Roach’s sketch ‘One Show’, the highlight of the evening. Pittman and Holly Pierce starred as coked-up, enthusiastic presenters – Pierce must be commended for her sound use of Welsh accent to send up real-life presenter Alex Jones – with two ‘experts’ and a dinner lady as guests in an outstanding mockery of the most redundant show on the BBC (sorry). The writing was the most absurd of the night – Roach obviously has some crazy ideas and is more than capable of executing them into well-timed comedy.
Other highlights were Pittman’s bizarre ‘Wonga’ sketch, which combined the notorious loans company with some scenes of torture, Lydia Harrison’s subversive ‘Body Image’ sketch and ‘First Date’, by Danny McNamee, which saw a couple on a blind date struggling with the man’s addiction to game shows.
Sketches which fell down were mostly due to a lapse in either writing, direction or performance, demonstrating the society’s main flaw – it’s not easy to find a large number of members who are talented at all three. Add in a fourth discipline – improvisation – and you end up with the mixed results that were displayed in RAGatouille. Sometimes well-written jokes are delivered badly, and sometimes a good performance isn’t enough to save mediocre writing. The smaller, select troupe that performed at the successful Comedy Fridge were selected by audition – perhaps those members could impart their wisdom to the wider realms of the society.