The Oxford Pick of the Fringe was supposed to be an assorted show of four different student companies performing what they had conjured up for the famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Alas, some groups cancelled last minute and there was a lot of confusion about what was going on and whether the show would ever start. What was finally offered to the audience was worth the wait. The two groups that did perform didn’t let the audience sit still for even a minute- you were either tapping your feet to the music of Out of the Blue or clutching on to your seat as you nearly fell over laughing at the gags by Big Brass.
The show opened with the all-testosterone a cappella group Out of the Blue, who were as endearing as they were entertaining. They didn’t just sing, they performed, making the audience involuntarily clap and tap to their rhythm and titter at the surprising chucklesome moments they inserted in their varied dance routines. Not only were pitch perfect, the way they imitated instruments and background tracks was unerring. The energy they brought to the room was contagious- the proof being the enthusiastic ‘wohoos’ they got after every song- showing they are truly meant for the stage.
The pumped up audience then waited for the next act, not sure what it was going to be. Big Brass didn’t disappoint. There was a comical silence in the middle of the show when Big Brass comedian Nick Davies sat next to an audience member, pretending to have a “private” heart-to-heart. “How can we laugh about these things when there is so much going on in the world?” he said, with a dramatic sigh. Then Big Brass proceeded to make us do just that. With poker faces and orchestrated awkwardness they made the audience guffaw over the most random gags. They had a mixed bag of wacky sketches ranging from the morbid to the musical, so you could never predict what they would pull out next.
This was the best part of Big Brass. They are not your conventional comics who entertained only with amusing narratives. Their comedy is situation based, but the situations they selected were absurd in that they were almost mundane events that occur in our lives but re-imagined with a creative twist that left you bamboozled as you laughed at your own befuddlement. The team of Big Brass worked so well together with the perfect comic timing. This made their acts seem like elaborate pranks they played on the audience to see how far they could push them. Yes, as discussed in the heart- to- heart, when it comes to them we will laugh at nearly anything.
Surprisingly, the show wasn’t well attended; if you weren’t there you did miss out on a fun evening. Though there were too many organizational loopholes (which is why it has been given one less star), the actual performances were gems making one wish we had a glimpse of the other groups too.