The rip-roaring cast of 'The Really Late Show'.Caredig ap Tomos with permission for varsity

I’m a sucker for a good late-night talk show: the snazzy hosts, the witty guests, the pianists in the house bands who insist on playing a riff every time the host cracks a joke. Even better, I’m a sucker for a bad late show — the kind of show that makes you wonder why any network would put the show to air, then realize that’s why the production got relegated to a 1AM timeslot. Perhaps, then, no sketch show is more up my alley than The Really Late Show, a one-night stand sketch show at the Corpus Playroom (happening at an agreeable 9:30PM).

The Really Late Show spoofs late-night talk shows by putting on one that’s particularly chaotic. The host announces at the start that the show is slated to get cancelled, so he’s hoping to have the best night of his career. What follows is an hour of eccentric characters, satirical adverts, a lovely homage to Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First?” routine (“Who’s on first?” “Yes.” “Who?” “That’s the man’s name! ‘Who!’”), and tons of punchy one-liners. The cast and crew paid excellent attention to detail for their props and costumes, with the host’s notecards bearing phrases like “HI MUM” and “HOT SINGLE MILFS IN YOUR AREA” for eagle-eyed viewers to spot.

“The talk show format allowed cast members’ talents to shine”

What really impressed me was how fluidly the show moved from one sketch to another. It’s hard to fault sketch comedy shows for having bumpy transitions from sketch to sketch; it’s not a play, after all. That said, using a late-night talk show as a vehicle for sketch comedy was a brilliant choice because it allowed the ensemble to rotate through characters and sketches with visible ease. The Corpus Playroom’s setup, while challenging in its L-shaped layout, functioned great for moving ensemble members through the space as they disappeared through the stage door, reappeared as new characters through the same door or snuck into the auditorium via the main entrance. This dynamic use of the Playroom kept the audience on their toes and looking to see where the next character might emerge from next.

The talk show format also allowed cast members’ talents to shine. Rhys Griffiths sparkled as the show’s host, Jim Donnelly, with excellent physicality and a convincing sleazy late-night host persona. Whether with grand hand gestures or with reactive facial expressions while listening to each talk show guest, Griffiths stayed animated throughout the night. Lizzy Riley was another stand-out performer as she moved from fraudster psychic to cult follower to a priest’s influencer daughter. With every entrance as a new character, she brought a new accent and new physical quirks to distinguish each persona from the last. I know firsthand how difficult it can be to switch characterization from sketch to sketch — and Riley made it seem effortless.


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Certain characters had me doubled over in laughter throughout the night, like Jyothi Cross’s “Scott the NPC,” who shuffled through a rota of preset statements, and Miranda Evans’s “Aloysius Debonair,” who could only speak in monosyllables (and thus couldn’t say his own name). Without a strong commitment to physically and vocally embodying this characters, these wacky personas could have been tedious to watch — but the enthusiasm each cast member showed for their performance brought these oddballs to life in a hilariously enjoyable way.

The laughs came consistently throughout the whole show. About a third of the way in, the energy took a noticeable dip, though how can you avoid that when the host of the spoof show just got dragged kicking and screaming offstage? It happily then built back up to a rousing, heartfelt finish. Everyone in the cast clearly has a knack for sketch comedy, and I’m excited to see what the actors — and what directors Barnaby Evans, Saul Bailey, and Tasmin Sarkany — work on next.

The Really Late Show played at the Corpus Playrooms on Tuesday March 14th, 9:30pm.