"It was easy to tell that the audience were firmly on board with these performers from the get-go"Photo by Amy Mallows with permission for Varsity

Greeting the ADC audience as the lights go down is an orchestra. Each section is in perfect harmony, confident and collected. Nothing can break their stride. That is until a violin joins in.

This introduction set a lively tone for what would be an evening of quick-witted, pure silliness in This is Not A Sketch Show. Five performers directed by Amy Mallows lit up the late-show stage last night in an hour of original, ‘alternative’ sketch comedy which did not disappoint. While googly eyes, inflatable boxing gloves, and a drum machine app all made gleeful contributions to the collection of skits, the brightest stars were, without a doubt, the talented and consistently clever cast.

“The safe sex sock-puppet show early on in the show was brutally funny”

It was easy to tell that the audience was firmly on board with these performers from the get-go. The safe sex sock-puppet show early on in the show was brutally funny, and sides were split in the name of absurdity watching bananas burst, elephants squeal, and the reveal of the dreaded ‘chlamydia sock.’ In the wrong hands, lewd comedy can easily fall flat and bring nothing new, making the laughs this sketch generated all the more impressive in its relentless insanity. So many laughs in under ten minutes left me very excited for what would come next.

Someone who exceeded these already high expectations was Beck Walker, who was unique in his choice to perform comedic songs twice in the show. His first song in particular, which unveiled more and more adulterous flings with women (and ‘John’) as it went on, was wonderfully written. Although it perhaps could have been performed with more confidence towards the beginning, Walker’s storytelling and impressive punchlines kept up its energy and brought several surprises. Other solo highlights included Frederick Upton’s sentimental slam poetry on life as the ‘ba-dum-tss guy’, and Toria White’s sharp and silly monologue on existence as a sock.

“Jenny Cyffin-Jones was especially entertaining in her exceptional physical comedy here”

A game of charades around the halfway mark, hosted by a comedian who ‘sometimes’ pays his taxes, ‘Kimmy Jarr’ (Niamh Howat), made for a worthy audience participation segment. Those invited onstage and others remaining in the crowd enjoyed the game, in which the cast acted out their books, films, and songs with enthusiasm within the familiar format. Cast member Jenny Cyffin-Jones was especially entertaining in her exceptional physical comedy here, which made her a stand-out in a number of other sketches, too, particularly her great clash of masculinity against Upton through the means of interpretive dance. Some might say that a game of charades in an ‘alternative’ comedy show needed a twist, but we were so engaged with the cast by this point that it just wasn’t necessary—the room lapped up everything the group had to offer.


Mountain View

Sage A comrade and her radio: Tales from Star City

Just as the show opened with a musical spectacular, it closed with an appropriately ridiculous group kazoo execution of “God Save the Queen”. Its marvellous finale was adored by the crowd, whose electricity throughout proved just how wonderful the comedy on the show was at the ADC last night. It is difficult to point out where the energy faltered in This is Not A Sketch Show (if at all), making the round of applause, huge cheers, and standing ovation the cast and crew received thoroughly deserved. This show lacked a set and lighting was uncomplicated, but doing more on either of these fronts would have been an unnecessary distraction. Stripped back and unapologetic, This is Not A Sketch Show was a stellar example of Cambridge comedy—I expect nothing less than remarkable theatre to come from everyone involved.

This is Not A Sketch Show played at the ADC Theatre on May 17th at 11pm