The weekend of 28th – 30th April saw The Annex Theatre transformed into a ‘comedy festival’ run by SUSU’s Comedy Society. Three nights of improv, sketches and failed TV pilots. I love comedy, but unfortunately this was more cringy than humorous for me.
Night one started strong – Beard of Zeus, Southampton’s own improv group, played improv games ‘Sex With Me Is Like’ and ‘Change’. Their jokes were funny, their timing good. In ‘Change’, when two people had to improv something and then be replaced by two others with new scenarios, a ‘porn star/porn director’ suggestion saw the girl knelt down acting as the director – which was actually funny because it went against what we were expecting to happen. Next followed Bristol Improv, who failed to keep my attention. They would start off with funny jokes but it went on for too long most of the time, and often the response of the comedians was too slow for it to work. Idle Playthings from Bath Spa ended night one, the highlight being improv based on different music pieces which was mostly witty and funny. While, again, some of it just went on too long to still be funny, overall they ended night one well and seemed to entertain the audience.
Night two: sketches. This night was definitely my favourite night, with Idle Playthings and The VA as highlights. Southampton Spotlights were also pretty good. Some parts felt forced, especially their ghostbusters sketch, but they had a racist alternative history sketch which I loved. Tears of laughter were actually shed.
The VA had some incredibly short but hilarious sketches referencing the moon landing and a sketch that literally consisted of the lines ‘have you got the weed?’ ‘dad?!’ and ‘Justin?!’. One of the stand-out sketches from the night was one on three ‘lads’ taking down Daesh, and one that looked like wallet theft but was just a man laughing at his wallet. ‘What, don’t you ever take out your wallet and laugh at it?’
Idle Playthings ended and I just wasn’t impressed with the majority of their sketches because they, like the improv, seemed to go on too long to still be funny. A recurring joke was ‘shotgun’ – for a seat, and then at a wedding. Which was funny! You weren’t expecting it, I laughed, everyone laughed, we assumed that was the joke over. But then it came back at a birth and an inheritance and over and over again until we were groaning whenever it was said. Another sketch had a woman ‘fishing for compliments’, which again would have been funny if it had ended when the other person on stage realised what she was doing, but instead another two minutes of sketch followed… when the joke was over.
Night three I assumed was recorded failed TV pilots, so I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it wasn’t, and was live acting from Scorched Limbs, Ludwig Tonight and Sam and Tom. Which makes a lot more sense. And honestly, again, the only part that got a laugh out of me was the failed tech: “He’s got a gun! With a silencer!” *bang* “He’s taken the silencer off!”
Maybe it just wasn’t my sort of humour, but Ludwig Tonight had me squirming in my seat at how uncomfortable some of it was. I lost any sense of what was happening between the illuminati jokes, dead cats and a minute of a girl retching up milk, and then someone walked on stage in his boxers, taping bread to his chest and screaming. I just don’t think this humour was for me.
Sam and Tom were the highlight of the three days for me. Their ‘police report’ on Willy Wonka and what happened to the children who visited had me in tears, and not tears of desperation to leave but actual tears of laughter. They ended the night on a funny note – god knows it needed it.