The programme features a pixellated, slightly out-of-focus jester – but there’s nothing fuzzy about this sketch show. On the contrary, it is razor-sharp and incredibly quick. The packed Burton Taylor (full to the extent that several theatregoers were turned away at the door) was testament to the group’s skilful advertising, and it soon became obvious that the work had not been oversold.
The show featured twenty-four sketches, most working as standalone pieces. That by itself would have been impressive, but the diversity of characters and situations (ranging from the satirical to the downright absurd) was remarkable. A personal favourite involved classic children’s stories remade à la Tarantino thrillers – I could have watched those limbs flying for hours. It was here, in fact, that the troupe really shone: whilst the satire was very good (unusually, neither very cynical nor very partisan) and the absurd bemusing in exactly the right way, it was the lighthearted ribbing of pop culture that had the audience in stitches. None of the performers came close to corpsing, either, and their deadpan visages were in themselves hilarious.
Sketch highlights included an astute pastiche of YouTube comments, two darkly brilliant songs from Will Hislop, and a fashion show featuring “Al-Qaeda chic” (and not a single audience groan. Not one.) Cast highlights included Hislop’s facial expressions – which alone threatened to steal the show, on occasion – Barney Fishwick’s rendition of a rather sensual clergyman, and Phoebe Hames’ wonderful command of various voices.
The sketches played out against a fairly plain backdrop, the BT’s walls adorned only with twin portraits (David Dimbleby and Henry VIII), but prop management was impressive. Carefully-selected music filled each scene break, though the audience was usually still in fits from the last episode by the time the next began: after ‘Dr. No Means Yes’ (James Bond vs. sexual equality) the person next to me could be seen to wipe his eyes and say, quite audibly, ‘Genius. Genius!’ He wasn’t far wrong.
The performers aren’t scared of the bizarre, and this reluctance to play safe distinguishes them from a lot of student comics. There were a couple of sketches during which we didn’t laugh, but sat in quiet, intrigued admiration, slightly unnerved and wholly entertained. The rare moments of predictability were inevitably rectified by the art with which lines were delivered; each cast member has a natural charisma.
It seems tough to commend Some Funny any more, because it really is something that must be experienced first-hand. If you haven’t got a ticket yet, fix that problem now. The Buttless Chaps are, and will remain, a force to be reckoned with.
PHOTO / DEM Productions/Buttless Chaps