Speaking to Chloe Jacobs (first year at Oriel) and Verity Babbs (second year at Wadham) briefly before their comedy show ‘I Slept in These Clothes’ began, both seemed justifiably nervous to stand up in front of a full and buzzing audience, but these nerves become untraceable when you see the two of them effortlessly master the stage in the upstairs room of the Wheatsheaf on Tuesday night of eighth week. Charmingly personal in a way that seduces you into feeling that you’re their closest friend, the two of them seem to be having a delightful laugh together – and you feel very lucky to be in on the joke.
Beginning with a stand-up set from Chloe, in which she reads out, with irresistible and meticulous wit, a fanfiction she wrote aged eleven, the show progresses promisingly onto a whip-smart improv section and a superbly absurd set of comedy sketches from Verity – which include anything from bagel-lenses at the opticians, to (fake) bank cheques prizes for an audience-participation game of ‘A, B, or Guatemala’. Beyond being comics who work masterfully with nothing more than their own voice (Chloe’s opening stand-up set particularly springs to mind), they utilise voiceovers, music, and props innovatively – though there was sometimes the disappointment of not being able to see some of these if they were held down low.
Perhaps, what they utilise most effectively is each other. Verity’s animated and wonderfully frenetic approach (she concludes each of her sketches with a ring of a bike horn, for example, which never fails to elicit laughs from the audience) works beautifully in tandem with Chloe’s often jaw-droppingly hilarious deadpan. They seem a well-found and well-fitted pair. For this reason, it was a slight shame to not have finished the show with something from the pair of them together, but this wish is only further testament to how expertly the two of them complement one another and, more generally, how their performance leaves you unavoidably wanting more.
Still, each of them works just as well as individuals as they do in a pair. The impact of Chloe’s stand-up set on the audience was positively tangible, no more evident than in the standing ovation she received as she walked off the stage to the sound of continued laughter as her audience began already to quote her content (the highlight of which was, in my opinion, her fantastic jokes about ice-skating). Chloe’s treatment of the audience is especially entertaining, responding intelligently and wittily to their initial reluctance to put themselves forward and get involved in the show, and gently mocking certain individuals for their supposed ‘misspent youth’ in skate-parks. Thus, Chloe manages to be both charmingly self-deprecating and wonderfully self-assured, possessing the rare and valuable ability to make a comedy show feel like a tipsy night-in with a group of friends.
Verity’s comedy sketches are a certain but welcome contrast, pulsing with a randomness that is dizzyingly entertaining, and her comment that “this show is going to be like being on drugs” likely rang true for many in the audience. The jokes seem to operate in a delightfully fantastical dimension of Verity’s own creation, and her bold wit radiates throughout as a result. In sketches packed with energy, absurdity, and animation (Verity’s effective use of voice-over in her sketch about mindfulness being especially worthy of note), she takes the audience on a ride which leaves its participants with no certain idea of where it is going but which derives its giddy thrill from just this.
A show well-worth watching, ‘I Slept in These Clothes’ is a superb exhibition of each comic’s expert ease on stage and in comedy. Whether it’s listening to a bit of (surprisingly quite impressive) erotic fan-fiction from Chloe’s childhood self, or watching Verity pour water over herself in an uncanny imitation of a kitchen-sink, these two prove themselves to be comics to look out for.