Georgie Murphy speaks to Olly Jackson and Jack Sutton.
Three Men in a Boot: A Rather Sketchy Show is an evening of stand up comedy and sketches, taking place at the Jacqueline du Pre Music Building at St. Hilda’s College for one night only (Friday 10th February). Chatting to Olly Jackson and Jack Sutton (2/3 of Three Men in a Boot) was nothing short of engaging, charming and highly entertaining. Full of stories about their trip to Edinburgh with their previous show Three Men in a Boot: A Sketchy History, it’s clear that the chemistry and energy that we see when they perform exists off stage as well as on. As such I cannot wait to see what their full show has in store.
Unique to this show is inclusion of performers from outside of Oxford. Joining Three Men in a Boot is a female comedy double-act called Shelf with whom, as Olly tells me, they have been making comedy with for around two years. They received brilliant critical appraisal for their performance at the Edinburgh Fringe and if the Scotsgay is anything to go by, these two “will draw [us] into their circle of comedic pleasure almost immediately”. Hosting the show is Glenn Moore, known for The Now Show (BBC Radio 4) and New Jack (BBC Radio 4 Extra). Undoubtedly, this mix of Oxford’s own Comedians with external performers will bring something incredibly engaging and refreshing to Oxford’s comedy scene.
“This show will be witty, intelligent and most of all, hugely energetic and side-splittingly funny.”
Three Men in a Boot take to the stage in the second half of the show. I saw three of Olly and Jack’s sketches as a double act: Valentine’s Day, A Postcard from Sarah and Bible Publisher. Across all three sketches, the writing was witty, intelligent and fast moving, all of which ensured that it couldn’t lapse into predictability. ‘Valentine’s Day’ was particularly strong in this respect. It was full of innuendo and wordplay whilst also remaining current, with satirical topical references. “Launching Tim Peake into your milky way”, “simulating article 50 for a clean Brexit” and “putting Trump in the White House” – delivered brilliantly by Jack – are sure to have the audience laughing out loud.
When I asked Olly and Jack about the process through which they go to create their work they told me of a very collaborative development. They used the example of the opening to their Edinburgh show. In order to create something dynamic and immediately engaging the three of them went away and wrote a possible beginning independently, to then rejoin and develop a coherent piece that incorporated each of their ideas. They also spoke about the rehearsal room as a space to build upon their original texts – mentioning one sketch that now has two different endings as a result of this – creating something they’re completely familiar and comfortable with. And this really seems to come across in performance: both Olly and Jack are incredibly confident with the material whilst also unafraid take risks. Consequently, the sketches I saw abounded with a lively energy and freshness, something I think will only improve even more before Friday. They bounced off each other exceptionally well. As individual actors they both shone: three sketches saw them play three different characters, each of which were very clearly defined. I can anticipate that their range of skill will only come across even more strongly during the full show.
It’s fairly safe to say that this will be a show to remember: rare is it that sketches and stand up comedy are given centre stage in the Oxford drama scene, rarer still is it that non-Oxford based performers are brought in to work alongside Oxford students. This show will be witty, intelligent and most of all, hugely energetic and side-splittingly funny.
Three Men in a Boot: A Rather Sketchy Show runs for one night, Friday 10th February. Ttickets here: https://jdp.st-hildas.ox.ac.uk/event/comedy-night) and the event will also be live-streamed: jdp.st-hildas.ox.ac.uk/livestream.