Following the success of last term’s Audrey’s at the Wheatsheaf, The Revue have moved to The Old Fire Station. I met Barney Fishwick and Dan Byam-Shaw, of The Revue fame, to talk about what to expect from their show this Tuesday and the subsequent Audrey’s in 4th and 8th week.
For those unfamiliar with the show, it was set up two years ago to fill the void of comedy nights in Oxford. The aim is to present a platform where new comedians/writers can find a way into the comedy scene at Oxford that, at the moment, is predominantly dominated by groups like The Imps and The Revue. By giving people who haven’t performed before the chance to do it alongside performers more experienced with the format, the hope is to make the whole thing less intimidating. Indeed, this is reportedly where former Revue president Jack Chisnall first got involved. The shows are open to anyone, says Byam-Shaw, so “if you want to audition, please email firstname.lastname@example.org”.
This reflects, according to Fishwick, Revue’s general change over the years; “there used to only be six members but this year our committee is made up of 15 members.” However, hard-core Revue fans shouldn’t worry as the format of the shows aims to strike a 50/50 balance between Revue content and fresh faces.
Of course when talking about the comedy scene in Oxford, it is difficult not to draw parallels with the thriving scene in Cambridge. The Footlights have hundreds of people wanting to get involved every year – something that both Byam-Shaw and Fishwick said they were aiming for for the Oxford culture. Byam-Shaw says the way to do it is with events like this, which can really help “foster interest”.
When I asked what they thought the change of venue – from last term’s Wheatsheaf to the Old Fire Station – would do for the nights, they were both excited about the prospect. “The Wheatsheaf was good in many ways with a relaxed pub atmosphere, which is good for stand-up,” however, they noted, “it was not so good for sketches.” This was to do with people talking at the back, a generally too-small capacity and a feeling of under-rehearsal. The hope, it seems, is that the more obvious theatre setting will make for a more rehearsed and “regular” format. When you increase regularity, quality and consistency improve along with it.
Fishwick also pointed out crucial the audience is, “if they are not laughing, then you have nothing to feed off.” As I’m told to expect “songs, sketches and slivers of stand-up” in a new-improved bigger venue, I’m sure this won’t be a problem. But make sure to book tickets for Audrey at the Old Fire Station on 20th January so they don’t look sillier than they planned to…