Review: The Durham Revue presents ‘ComedyFest’ ft. Cambridge Footlights & The St. Andrew Revue

By Emily Mitchell

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Comedyfest was a show humming with electricity, energy and endlessly entertaining performances. The pacing and slick, professional feel made the whole enterprise feel effortless, allowing the audience to just relax and have fun with the many, many hilarious sketches presented. The laughs started right from the get go with a witty opening from and Jack Simmonds. We instantly got a sense of their spontaneity and attention to detail.

From there, we moved into the absurdist space created by the St Andrew’s Revue with a bizarre and alarming sketch on the darker side of children’s entertainment. They had consistently great punchlines and the ‘Cool Daddy’ musical motif for transitions added to that slightly farcical feel they were always playing with. Their energy was incredible, continually engaging the audience and keeping the laughs coming. In particular, the Men in STEM, ‘take a chair’ and Teletubbies Read Tweets sketches stood out. The calibre of writing throughout the night was stellar, and you can really tell how much love and effort has gone into every sketch.

In particular, the moments of improvisation and audience participation added some of the biggest laughs of the night, reminding us of the inherent quickness of comedy


Following that impressive act, we had the Cambridge Footlights. Something every troupe played with tonight was the concept of nostalgia and entertainment. I liked how the Footlights threaded this through almost all of their sketches. Both them and the used snippets of songs in their transitions that complimented the previous sketch, keeping the punchlines rolling and blurring over into another skit. I really enjoyed the feminist edge of the Footlights’ sketches, but how they also called out the commercialised and hypocritical ‘girl boss’ feminism in society. The Tampax Pearl advert skit was such a standout of the night for me, completely epitomising their style of comedy.


blended icons of the screen with such strange, unusual and yet incredibly fitting scenarios that just worked. They created such a spark and when that moment of realisation hits, the audience just lit up. From Mr Tumble going to divorce court to Mrs Tweedy (yes, of Chicken Run fame) going to a hen do, the punchlines were incredibly well-crafted and set up. This highlighted the comedic flair and playful joy of the writing. A simple, yet incredibly effective example was the alligator sketch that featured an ‘allygator’ calling for Gay Rights. The simple inversion of expectations and associations of an alligator made for one of my most memorable moments of the evening.

blended icons of the screen with such strange, unusual and yet incredibly fitting scenarios that just worked

I have to shout out the Hole in the Wall and Nigella Lawson crime scene sketches as well, which got a proper belly-laugh out of me. However, my absolute highlight of this section of the show had to be the semi-recurring joke around Barney Howard, the Ninjas and Prank Patrol as an evil criminal enterprise. This just really stayed with me and showcased this surreal blending of people we know, often from our childhood, and these scenarios that took just beyond belief. It’s a testament to the ability of the troupe as well that we moved from scene to scene, scenario to scenario, without blinking an eye. The entire audience was game for anything that the troupe had in store. In particular, the moments of improvisation and audience participation added some of the biggest laughs of the night, reminding us of the inherent quickness of comedy.

All three troupes had such joyous playfulness, acerbic wit and meticulous attention to detail that makes for a perfect evening of entertainment. Tonight made me realise just why this show is such a highlight for the DST calendar

Comedy is one of the most challenging performance styles, needing to be able to react to anything quickly and, most importantly, in a way that makes us laugh. Luckily, all three troupes rose to the occasion this evening, and I’d be excited to see any of them at Edinburgh Fringe this summer. Every one of them has such joyous playfulness, acerbic wit and meticulous attention to detail that makes for a perfect evening of entertainment. Tonight made me realise just why this show is such a highlight for the DST calendar.

Image credit: The Durham Revue

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