Improvisation comes from the Oxford Imps, sketch shows come from the Revue, but where is Oxford’s stand-up comedy scene? To fill this gap, two student comics Harry Househam and Alex Faroe have started touring college comedy nights, which bring stand-up comedy to different college bars throughout the term. We spoke to them about setting up their nights and getting involved in stand-up nights.
Even after a year of living in London, I still don’t feel at home. Each day, I spend just over two hours of my time in a rattling steel filthy train carriage, filled with people, like me, who, exhausted from work, show little interest of engaging with anyone around them. Unless of course a free seat becomes available, then negotiation through hand gestures might arise. An all the more bizarre regular sequence of events, given that we typically see one other at least twice per week. Nevertheless, it seems we cannot and will not interact with one another.
The Revue’s Audreys are back this term. The comedy nights run by the Oxford Revue are going to take place on Tuesday of 1st, 4th and 8th week at the Old Fire Station. Barney Fishwick (one of the presidents) and Dan, the producer of the Audreys, tell us the committee are looking for people to take part in each of them.
From chatting to the committee members, the mysteriously named ‘Audrey’ comedy nights (no-one seems to know why they’re called that) sound incredibly diverse. The nights encompass stand up, sketch shows and anything inbetween. Pieces range from 4 to 10 minutes long and can be on anything you like; “we just look for something that makes people laugh,” says Barney. As the Revue scouts out some of their members from the Audreys, this could be your perfect way into the Oxford comedy scene.
The committee are holding auditions before each of the nights so keep an eye on their facebook page for details if you’re interested. Many members of the revue came through the Audreys and the two comedians advise those considering auditioning to “just set yourself a deadline and write some material to perform.”
Another tip is to go along and get inspiration from the other performers and comedians which might help you write your own piece and reflect on what works well in comedy. At the Audreys themselves you can always chat to people afterwards and ask them about their experience to see if it would be something for you to try yourself.
Having been through the audition process the current president talks about his first Audrey. He says he stood in the background playing the maracas whilst his friend played the guitar adding that it “felt like I was in some weird brothel” so it sounds like you really can start with anything that takes your fancy material-wise. You certainly shouldn’t be afraid to put something a bit more unusual out there.
This term the Audreys have a new venue in the Old Fire station on George Street which Dan says will be less daunting for first-timers. “There will be a run-through beforehand and the process will be much more collaborative and supportive.” As the new venue has a proper small theatre the whole thing seems like a step up from those open mic nights in college bars to something a little bit more professional.
Having said that, they say very few people have any experience before their first Audrey so it’s a good way to try out your skills as a comedian and see if you might like to take it a little more seriously. They emphasize the fact that you shouldn’t get disheartened and should keep auditioning for the Audreys and trying out new things if it’s something you want to get into.
The shows are a way to gain experience doing comedy and in their own words the Revue aren’t “setting the bar too high and are aiming to encourage people to perform.”
For information on events, shows, auditions and comedy in Oxford, sign up for the Oxford Revue mailing list by emailing email@example.com.
Marking his tenth year of making us all laugh, Mark Watson, bristolian comedian and writer, is coming to Oxford with his most recent show, ‘Flaws’. Having premiered the show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 2014, he is now travelling across the country, with 65 tour dates. Oxford has “tended to be a happy venue for me”, and one that he is looking forward to returning to, he tells me.
Predictable, boring, offensive and most of all, not funny, Benidorm’s seventh series premiere left me completely unimpressed. For those of you lucky enough to have not heard of the show, Benidorm follows several holiday-goers on their sun, sex and stupid stay in an all-inclusive resort hotel in the Spanish tourist city of Benidorm. (more…)
When the first trailer for The Interview was rolled out, promising the usual Rogen and Franco tropes in a vaguely new context, no one could have predicted the events that followed. True, at the film’s first unveiling, North Korea did not hesitate in condemning it but that was swept under the carpet and forgotten with a passing smirk. The only real winners were the filmmakers – any extra headlines of this type would only amount to extra publicity and there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
Fast forward to present day. We’ve had the Sony scandals, the financial damage caused by the leaks has been revealed, and the names of the various producers badmouthing Hollywood stars have already been forgotten. Perhaps best of all, we discovered Channing Tatum’s hilarious reaction to the success of 22 Jump Street. (http://defamer.gawker.com/channing-tatum-writes-emails-exactly-like-you-think-he-1670777558 )
For a while, the hacks were the best publicity stunt Sony never asked for. The Interview became the centre of a media storm and cinemagoers were likely to waltz into screenings on Christmas Day and leave indifferent, vaguely amused, or appalled at the racial stereotyping and oversimplification of the suffering of millions of people under the North Korean regime (which seems to be the consensus of critics and audiences alike). However, the Guardians of Peace’s threats to invoke 9/11 style hacks on moviegoers meant that with just one email the tone of the hacks went from vaguely disconcerting to something more serious. American news channels blazed out ‘National Terror Threat’ warnings at every opportunity and what had started as an attack on a film company soon became an attack on a nation.
The Interview was temporarily pulled, the financial implications of which are likely to be costly (even with the partial repeal) and the film went from a flippant comedy to a symbol of national defiance and freedom of speech. To see the film was to fight the anonymous and unseen malign hacking forces that threated to fill the world with fear (http://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/dec/16/employees-sue-failure-guard-personal-data-leaked-hackers).
In short, with one email Sony got their second publicity stunt. The Interview was no longer a flippant, intrinsically racist comedy; it was now a flippant, intrinsically racist symbol. There was a vague cult; blogs and website would tell you the ‘best place to watch The Interview’, you could sneak into your independent cinema, or download it illegally. Either way, your actions were for the sake of peace and tranquillity, fighting against shady terrorists and their 10 Tb of Sony’s data. Considering the film was very close to being pulled, this public reaction was the best-case scenario for the Japanese media company.
But what now? The Interview has taken roughly $15 million at the online box office, and may eventually crawl back up to making back its $44 million budget. The case seems to have closed – the hackers threatened world peace, both the US and North Korea made antagonistic comments and a brief global crisis flared up, but little more seems to have come of it. There will be no cult status afforded to the comedy: The Interview is no Great Dictator; we won’t be watching it in 70 years’ time to see James Franco react to Eminem ‘coming out’ on-air or shooting hoops with Kim Jong Un before making the North Korean cry with Katy Perry lyrics. Considering the trials and tribulations surrounding its release, for the film itself to be so devoid of any lasting impact seems utterly anti-climactic. The Interview didn’t teach us anything about North Korea or our perception of it – it relied on existing prejudices in an attempt to forge an extra bit of comedy. By doing so it has resigned itself to being just another vaguely comedic Rogen farce to sit alongside the rest.