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Comedy Review: The Dead Ducks

Emily Mellows takes a look at Comedy Society's latest sketch show

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Image Credit: York Comedy Society

York Comedy Society’s newest showcase began with a sketch involving American scientists (with surprisingly good accents) bringing genetically engineered monster tomatoes to life. It was a funny sketch but perhaps would have been more effectively placed towards the end of the show, after the audience had warmed up to the actors.

Most of the sketches lasted between one and five minutes, changing in theme and tone rapidly to ensure that the audience were never bored. The actors switched between sketches seamlessly, there were no forgotten lines or moments of uncertainly.

The best sketches of the evening were those which mocked contemporary popular culture references, the Dickensian themed sketch fell a little flat (although it was very clever) whilst the more modern sketch based on the M&M commercial created the biggest laugh of the night.

The hobbies and the hole in the wall sketches were also incredibly popular with the audience, partly because they were so simple and ridiculous. Perhaps the success of these sketches was a result of the fact that they ended in hilarious and frankly absurd one liners. I heard several audience members repeat the line ‘You’re a monster Anton du Beck!’ as they left the theatre.

Sketches which involved audience participation such as the mirage sketch and the Coronavirus sketch were also well received, the actors skilfully made the audience feel like they were part of the joke and nobody in the crowd was made to feel awkward or uncomfortable.

Whilst being largely apolitical, the sketch artists weren’t afraid to tackle the bigger, more controversial issues, refusing to shy away from the hard topics such as the Coronavirus cases at the University of York. It could have landed flat but it didn’t, largely because of the skill of the actors, and because it was cleverly placed nearer the end of the show when the audience were already on the side of the sketch artists.

The sketch in question satirised the sensationalised coverage of the disease in the media, and involved cast members desperately attempting to figure out which of the audience members was infected. One of the key rules of contemporary comedy is always to punch up rather than down. The sketch mocked the government and media’s ineptitude in dealing with the virus, rather than mocking victims, a wise decision on the part of the writer.

The show as a whole was very impressive and professional, especially for a student production. There were very few awkward pauses, every member of the cast held their own admirably, and most importantly of all, the writing was genuinely funny.  People often underestimate just how difficult it is to draw real laughter from an audience. Every member of the cast was instantly likeable and had a rare instinct for comedic timing that simply cannot be faked. The show was a resounding success, I would encourage all fans of comedy to catch the next one.

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