Reviewing The Revue

‘I bumped into Nigel Farage the other day. Fourteen stitches.’

Thought that was funny? Neither did I. But such was the comedic fare served up by the Oxford Revue.

On Monday evening I went to one of the group’s performances at the Old Fire Station. Apparently the Oxford Revue are quite famous, and previous members include Michael Palin, Alan Bennett and Armando Iannucci (yes, the information’s from Wikipedia). The show started with something about ‘going to the theatre’. It was pretty incomprehensible to me, but then I did arrive quite late into the sketch.

Quickly the evening found itself drowning in a sea of self-reference. The problem, as soon became clear, is that you can only get so far by criticising your own jokes. We were treated to some pretty dreadful poetry, interspersed with claims like ‘no laughs, needs work’ and ‘well that was crap’. It didn’t take long before I began to agree with these assessments.

Admittedly, there were some funny sketches. A man is discovered having an affair with the Queen. Commercial jingles were duly satirised. A pupil tells his English teacher that his Dad has ‘just lighted his crack pipe’. ‘What?’ replies the English teacher, ‘Don’t you mean lit?’

The Oxford Revue are clearly a very talented group of people and I probably should have given them a more positive review. I worry that, as one of their members claimed, ‘Critics and I get on like a house on fire: things get broken and people get hurt’. But they need to spend less time talking about their jokes and more, well, making jokes. Yes, Stewart Lee type comedy works well when performed by Stewart Lee. But it’s evidently harder to pull off than it looks.

The Oxford Revue’s Audreys are on at the Old Fire Station on Tuesday of 1st, 4th and 8th week this term. 

PHOTO/Jack Chisnall