The cast of the ADC's newest sketch show, way back in the dayLizzy Riley with permission for Varsity

This Is The Big One boasts the title of the newest show to fill the ADC’s late slot, promising to change the reputation of student comedy from ‘painful’ to ‘not half bad, actually.’ And they half-succeeded. It was way more than half bad.

Okay, maybe I’m being unnecessarily harsh on student comedy. Writing and performing in a sketch show is hard and takes guts. Trying to fill the entire ADC’s auditorium with the laughter of a small audience was never going to be an easy feat, and it wasn’t helped by the fact that several of the sketches weren’t that funny. As someone who has seen the good, the bad and the cringe of Cambridge theatre, I tend to approach new productions with a healthy dose of wariness, but when there was a promise of ‘the big one,’ it was impossible not to get my hopes up at least a little. The opening gag, a mishearing of the title as ‘This is the Bog One’, was shaky on its first outing, but by what felt like its tenth rehashing, I wanted nothing more than to flush it away.

“It wasn’t helped by the fact that several of the sketches weren’t that funny”

There were some glimmers of hope, but I would have enjoyed them more if I hadn’t been suffering from comedic whiplash, frantically oscillating between sketches with genuine promise and those which were downright confusing. A scene between a woman and her gynaecologist started with strong physical comedy, accurately capturing the awkwardness of a gynaecology appointment, and an excellent scathing comment on medical misogyny, where, upon noticing some blood, the doctor remarked “I think you’re broken.” However, the sketch soon descended into chaos as the woman gave birth to ‘Boggy,’ a creature from the bog, whose appearance marked each agonising reference to the original sketch.

“There were some glimmers of hope, but I would have enjoyed them more if I hadn’t been suffering from comedic whiplash”

Similarly, a sketch nearing the end of the show had promise, bringing in a meta touch with an amusing interview with the writer of the previous sketch of a challenging pottery lecture, practically winking at the audience with the comment “even your subtext has subtext.” Unfortunately, this was another sketch that lost its momentum throughout, and left me reminiscing about the sketches which only lasted two lines. In particular, many of the innuendos were funny on their own, but did not require an exaggerated “naughty,” delivered to the audience with a wink. It felt somewhat insulting that we as the audience could not be trusted to understand the jokes by ourselves.


Mountain View

Heads, shoulders, Bloody Knees, and comedy pros

Maybe the entire premise is all part of a joke that I’m still missing. At times, I caught myself wondering if the erratic lighting and cast falling over was all choreographed to deliberately create an overall sense of incompetence. However, as the corpsing and fluffing of lines continued, I became more and more convinced that the poor quality was genuine. If it was supposed to be one great joke, then I was as confused as I was during the scene where the entire joke seemed to be a man in a wig, or in the sketch involving the shy pickpocket (and to the audience member who repeated that punchline in confusion after the sketch ended, I felt the same).

This Is The Big One failed to live up to what it promised, and the hype created was not matched by the execution. If This Is The Big One is currently the best student comedy has to offer, then we’re in trouble.