UEA Headlights Comedy Society’s annual revue show took place last week. Sketch comedy was the name of the game with comedy-trio Bad Bread headlining, the charity event was organised to showcase UEA’s comic talent and to raise money for UEA’s Nightline service.
Photo: Nick Morris
Sketch comedy by its very nature is hit-and-miss so it was a brave decision of Headlights to stage it live in a one off show. The evening began with a sketch based on the song Fame and its mispronunciation (it’s pronounced Fah-may for those who don’t know) and the laughs started rolling in.
Although there were laughs from the audience throughout, at times they seemed a little few and far between. It seemed that the problem was that often the idea for the sketch was extremely strong but the sketch itself wasn’t long enough to do it justice. For instance, one sketch followed a detective scouring the stage with his magnifying glass until it turned out he was looking for love all along. This got a big laugh, yet the sketch was no longer than minute at the most and it seemed that Headlights missed an opportunity by not having the character reappear in other sketches.
Headlights really did nail it with the St. Budget’s Church sketch, which featured a church economising by rushing through baptisms, marriages and funerals one after another. An honourable mention for Elliot Wengler, who not only was the main organisational force behind the event, but also his priest character in the St. Budget’s sketch was one of the funniest of the night.
One of the most original sketches of the revue show was the Coalition sketch. In it, Derren Brown set up a secret TV show to remove the moral scruples of every student’s favourite politician, Nick Clegg. It was a great idea for a sketch and it worked well with the lively audience who heckled and jeered as Clegg was swept up by a pantomime-like David Cameron. Again though, this sketch was an example of a really strong idea that needed just a little more tightening to really bring out its potential. Nick Clegg is an easy target, so it would have been refreshing to have him satirised in ways other than his u-turn on student fees.
The main reoccurring sketch from Headlights followed the fictional boy-band Paro-D, whose breakup and inevitable money-motivated reunion was told through a series of mockumentary videos projected above the stage. It was unfortunate that this sketch dominated much of the Headlights portion of the night as it was easily their weakest. The mockumentary clips were poorly filmed and rather scrappily edited. If this effect was deliberate it was lost on the audience, most of the transitions from scene to scene were poorly timed and often cut off those on screen before they had finished speaking.
The finale of the Headlights half was the live all singing all dancing reunion of Paro-D. To be blunt, it was more awkward than it was funny – with even the members of Paro-D looking embarrassed at times. It all looked under-rehearsed and quickly written which was a shame, as like many of the sketches, the initial seed of the sketch had a lot of potential to be funny.
Bad Bread wrapped up the second half of the night with their sketch-based Edinburgh show. The comedy trio made up of Bips Mawson, Anthony Craven and Tom Goble used the Rom-Com theme to tie their sketches together in a hilarious line of quick paced and clever routines. Their timing was perfect and their obvious enjoyment of performing really helped them to form a connection with the audience.
Overall a great night and definitely something for Headlights to build on for future performances.