Q: Hello – who are you and what’s your role in the Oxford Revue?
A: Hiya!!! I’m Jack, and I’m president for the Oxford Revue this year. Along with my good buddy, co-president, and local MP Georgia Bruce, we sort of act as head writers and general organisers.
Q: What has the Revue got coming up this term?
A: Erm, do we have a lot of shows this term? Just a bit mate. We’ve got the spring show at the BT Studio in 3rd week, which is called Heavy Petting. It’s all new stuff in an all new show – the best sketches from it will be taken to the Edinburgh Fringe this year, so do come along and let us know what’s not so funny by awkwardly coughing and checking the time on your phone. Then in 4th week, some of our members are doing their own show called Triptych at the Pilch, which I’m told will be far more edgy but also very funny. Then, very excitingly, in 8th week at the Pilch we’ve got our Freshers Show. We’ve essentially got together the most promising young bucks, thrown them in a room together and told them to write a show. That’s going to feature some raw new talent, so not to be missed! This is what’s really nice about the Revue at the mo: we’ve got loads of brilliant people doing their own brilliant things – there’s no one style, and we love to try and represent that mix.
Q: What’s the worst/most embarrassing thing to have happened on stage?
A: Obviously there are countless incidents to choose from, but my personal most embarrassing moment has to be from last year’s Fringe. I was supposed to storm off and look like I’d given up on the show, trying to build up to this bit where I come on and play a massive guitar solo. But as I was backstage I noticed some people were in hysterics. I was so confused because it was this really sad bit where the person who I’d abandoned was sort of sadly playing a song about friendship without me, but I then realised I’d left one of my size-thirteen hooves blatantly sticking out from under the curtain, which I’m told “ruined the vibe”.
Q: Have you ever been watching people in the bod/park end/lectures and thought ‘I’m going to recreate that exactly as a sketch’
A: It’s really difficult to use real life like that sometimes; if I’ve learnt one thing about sketches – and I probably have only learnt one – it’s that they’re perversely silly. They’re like these bizarre little microplays where people don’t behave normally, whereas the things we laugh at most in life are the jokes we have with our friends (about that person in the bod/park end). It’s so hard to contain a funny idea in such an, at times, anti-funny vehicle like a sketch, and so often that joke or idea doesn’t play out optimally in a 2-3 minute scene, performed by characters we’ve never seen before and with whom we have no emotional attachment and will never see again.The editing process can be pretty brutal if someone takes having their sketch rejected as “this wasn’t funny” – because, more frequently, it’s “this was funny, but it didn’t work out being expressed in this way”. I think you’ve certainly got to think like that anyway.
Q: If not, where do most of the sketches come from? Are they written or improvised etc?
A: It’s a mixed bag – some stuff I’ve done was improvised entirely and just recorded on a phone so we could learn the lines. Other things get typed up and presented at the start of rehearsals. I once woke up and thought I’d dreamt one of the best sketches ever, feverishly scribbled down the dream, then went back to sleep. When I looked at it later it just said “parents sue children?”. I was sad for a long time after that.
Q: Who’s really funnier out of you and the Cambridge footlights?
A: The Footlights is like a comedy production line – they just spit out pros. The ones we meet during our exchange shows are usually really, really funny and nice, but the distinctive thing I think you get from Footlights is a certain confidence from the thought that you’re part of that group. I think it’s fair to say that, at this amateur student level, there’s nothing between us. But so many of them just have that self-belief, that desire to see it through, improve and adapt, and that’s where they flourish and deservedly dominate the scene, whereas someone doing it here might just think, as nice as it was to write the odd joke at university, it’s now time to grow up and do something proper. It doesn’t seem as obvious to us that we’d make it in the same way. That said, they all smell like plastic and eat their own scabs.
Q: Do you ever use jokes as chat up lines?
A: One of the most crushing things about comedy is how unsexy it is. I don’t think any of my jokes would have that effect, and this all goes back to how weird and removed from real life sketches are. Nobody fancies you if you’ve just slithered up to them in Cellar and described a piece you’ve written called ‘The Silly Doctor’. Or maybe they do. Whatever. Get in touch with me if you do. Or don’t. Not bothered.
Q: Ever tempted to have some sort of political message underlying the comedy or is it pure laughter you’re after?
A: On a serious note we’re nothing if not critical about what we choose to portray on stage, and generally try our very best to make sure the platform we’ve been given isn’t just another way in which to reiterate unhelpful and unfunny stereotypes. But our satire stays pretty tame – lampooning H from Steps is about the most controversial thing we’ve done.
Q: What was the best comedy show you saw at the Fringe this year?
A: For me personally, it was a sketch troupe called Daphne, comprised of some ex-Footlights guys. So, so, so funny and oddball and brilliant. I’ll certainly be ripping them off for a good while.
Look out for Oxford Revue’s shows in 3rd week, 4th week and 8th week!
Image // The Oxford Revue