How has this whole collaboration come about?
As far as I’m aware, the joint performance form Durham, Cambridge and at the Gala is a tradition that has been going for a really long time. We’re the three oldest and most renowned student sketch groups in the country and it’s fantastic that we’re all able to perform in the amazing Gala Theatre. I’m assuming in the distant past, a member of one of the groups just thought “Hey, do you fancy doing a joint show?” and it’s simply blossomed from there. The Durham Revue, Cambridge Footlights and Oxford Revue all host an amazing list of alumni so this show is a fantastic opportunity to see what may be comedy’s next big thing!
Surely there is rivalry between the groups?
I’m afraid it’s actually a lot more amicable that you might think! It’s more of a curiosity about the other troupes rather than competition between us. We want to see what else is out there, what sketches they do and what their style is like. We don’t necessarily want to ‘beat’ the other groups but see what sort of material they come up with. At the end of the day, we’re all student comedians doing the same thing. Of course, a bit of healthy competition never hurt anyone and we like to see the Gala show as a performance on our ‘home turf’. There’s no harm in a bit of University pride.
Do you all have quite similar styles? Is there a risk of repetitive material?
Although we all write and perform sketch comedy, it’s amazing how different our shows actually turn out to be. All of the groups change year on year, depending on who graduated, and who the new recruits are. Whilst I’ve been in the Revue, I haven’t witnessed any repetition of sketches – not only between Durham, Cambridge and Oxford, but also other University sketch groups such as Leeds, Bristol and UCL.
Would you ever ‘borrow’ material from another sketch group?
Cambridge or Oxford?
That depends on which has the more attractive men.
Would you ever crack jokes about the other groups whilst they’re in earshot?
We like to keep our jokes for when we’re on-stage. Off-stage we’re more likely to be having a pint with the other groups rather than making jokes about them.
Will you be visiting Oxford and Cambridge to perform a similar showcase there?
Yes! The Gala show is just the first leg of the Revue’s comedy tour. We’re heading down to Cambridge at the end of the Easter holidays to perform two nights at The Cambridge Arts Theatre. Last year we sold out to an audience of 600 people, which was amazing! We’re also hoping to go down to Oxford this summer to perform with them again.
The Cambridge Footlights are maybe the best known of the three groups; can you give them a run for their money?
Definitely! The Cambridge Footlights are the best known because of their alumni, but we’re from a different generation. Yes, for one group to host such a large number of successful alumni comedians is amazing, but it’s also incredibly important to not let this detract from current shows. Audiences should focus on what we write and perform now, not what we’ve done in the past. Whilst the Cambridge Footlights might at one point have been the Pythons, Fry and Laurie, and Mitchell and Webb; they’re not anymore. It’s up to the current Footlights to try and live up to their predecessors, just as Durham intends to do. However, it shouldn’t be forgotten that recent Durham Revue alumni are becoming increasingly prominent in the comedy sphere. It’s a really exciting time to be in the Revue!
Who would win in a fight?
I honestly think we’d all be equally terrible! However it would always be Durham. Definitely Durham.
Image: Abi McDonald.