Rory and Tim are Free at Last

Wed 17th – Tue 23rd August 2011


Annabel James

at 09:03 on 22nd Aug 2011



Rory and Tim are really very sweet. The comic quartet – for they were in fact Rory, Tim, Iain and Ruby – had charmed the audience within a couple of minutes, explaining ‘we can’t do the lights up, lights down thing’ and giving an example ‘practice sketch’. Performing to a large crowd which spilled out beyond the venue doors, they gave us an hour of sketch comedy interspersed with moments of audience participation and a rather strange Potter-themed guitar interlude. The ideas were original and most of the sketches were tightly designed; we were laughing along the entire way.

I had seen some of the material before at Oxford shows but this did nothing to detract from its appeal: I was pleasantly surprised to find myself laughing even more at surreal twists on everyday scenes which had been funny the first time around. Some of the strongest material played to the strengths of nearly all the performers: the three commentators on A Level results were hilarious to listen to, as was the Roman soldier rebelling against his captain’s orders (‘You mean, we’re going to kill them? But they’re PEOPLE!’)

That’s not to deny the individual strengths of every member of the group. Rory O’Keefe was a particularly versatile performer whose silent conjuror sketch was a novel way of involving an audience member. Tim Schneider’s timing was impeccable; his nuanced delivery of the pretentious English professor monologue went down a storm with the mostly student-age audience. Iain Stewart’s range of facial expression and movement displayed rich comic potential in the sketch in which he and Schneider were trained as emotion-free nightclubbers. Ruby Lott-Lavigna took a smaller role but was just as skilled in her comic timing, carrying through a potentially complicated sketch about the 2011 census with aplomb.

Very occasionally sketches were too loosely written – ‘it’s my birthday, no it’s not’ dragged along a little predictably – but for the most part Rory and Tim provide an hour of comedy with something of the endearing quality of Mitchell and Webb. The show was such an enjoyable mix of original scenarios and skilful performances I even forgave them the thing about expecto patronum.


Madeleine Morley

at 11:03 on 22nd Aug 2011



Rory O'Keeffe and Tim Schneider insist, whilst wearing matching white and black initial t-shirts sporting the letters Rr for Rory and Tt for Tim, that the two other kids on stage are merely extras, of no significance, and don't really need to be named. The two (actually four) then go on to present you with an hour of free comedy, so it's a bit churlish to have any reservations. Then again, as successful and funny as Rory and Tim and the others often are, sometimes they are less so, and free seems about the right price of entry. For free, dead funny, except when its not, in one of those unexpected side-street venues that you can find yourself in without knowing how you got there, and relax for an hour before stumbling into another mysterious venue that's often itself funny in its own way. For free, you get to see a few boys - and one girl - from Oxford acting sketch show silly as they play the parts of a swanky magician, a berserk poetry lecturer, a paranoid spot on a teenager's face, an aggressive PE teacher, and plenty of others. You've seen it all before, except the bits you haven't, which make you marvel that there can still be something new in the comedy sketch.

The sketches are nimbly structured, well-delivered and punchy, with the kind of vintage, perky, observational material that's in a pre-Little Britain world, so not so cruel and mean spirited. If the world needs a new Not the Nine O'Clock News, then here is a contender. Rory and Tim are both extremely good at being able to pick a part that suits them and wholly involve themselves in new characters. Rory is the classic physical man, and Tim often reminded me of the intentionally awkward comedy stand-up of the great Richard Ayoade. Their sketches move fast, so that even if they miss the target there is never a dull moment, except a slightly terrifying one where Rory and Tim bring out the sinister 'Silence Man' in a balaclava who wields a threatening kitchen knife and threatens to stab anyone who doesn't laugh enough. A little bit cruel after all, then, as comedy ultimately needs to be. In Edinburgh, there is comedy everywhere, from breakfast to midnight, round every corner, and the pressure to stand out is intense. Rory and Tim do not set the world on comedy fire, but they make you laugh, even without setting Silence Man on you, even if you've seen so much comedy you think you'll never laugh again.


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