I’m not really sure what to expect when I sit down to preview the Oxford Revue’s new show, Funny Friends. Comedy, when done badly, can be the most cringe-worthy experience in the world – especially if you’re the only audience member. It is fortunate, then, that the sketches I saw left me completely blown away, and genuinely saddened when the preview had to end after half an hour.
The show features a range of sketches, catering to a range of humours. My personal favourite featured an overly cheery housewife arranging the flowers and cake for her husband’s funeral, but those with a more topical taste in comedy might enjoy the trailer the group have just released – which featured two incredibly sweary builders catcalling a range of feminist slogans.
Indeed, from what I have seen of the Revue this term, feminism is something that is integral to the group’s social motto. I am told by the director that half of their committee is female, that the show will be compered by a female comic, and that their last show, No Market For Old Men, featured an entirely female cast and female team of writers. Given that comedy is an industry that is notoriously gender imbalanced – from my basic research from Google, the comedy website Chortle lists around 1,300 male comedians, and only 300 female comics – this commitment to equality of opportunity seems all the more important. The sketches that reference toxic masculinity are also expertly handled and laugh-out-loud funny, inclusive and topical without being tokenised.
The Oxford Revue’s annual Playhouse show has been a part of the Oxford comedy scene for as long as anyone can remember. A roundup of all the best student talent in the country, it also features the Cambridge Footlights and the Durham Revue – and while I can’t attest to the quality of their sets, having only seen Oxford’s offering, the troupe that spawned Fry and Laurie and half the Inbetweeners can surely be trusted to produce something funny.
For two hours of laugh-out-loud comedy, you can’t go wrong with The Oxford Revue’s Funny Friends. With student discount still valid until Sunday, I would advise booking soon to grab the best seats – and who knows, you might even catch a rising star in action? This is the troupe that produced Monty Python, Rowan Atkinson and Sally Phillips after all. All I can say is I left with a smile on my face, feeling genuinely uplifted, and overwhelmingly impressed with the comedy talent I had witnessed. A definite must-see.