Up the Auntie!

Sun 10th – Mon 25th August 2014

reviews

Freya Judd

at 21:37 on 12th Aug 2014

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The flyer promised porn, porn, and more porn. Up The Auntie didn’t deliver on the porn front, but it did provide something much better – laugh after laugh. Already this week, I’ve seen plenty of pretty lame sketch shows, with awkward change-overs and uneasy punchlines. The two men performing skit after skit in Up The Auntie showed neither embarrassment or trepidation when it came to entertaining a packed audience for fifty minutes on their own, but confidently carried the crowd along with them. I laughed continuously.

The room was packed with props and costume changes, and although some of the changeovers between sketches required much putting-on and taking-off of roll-neck jumpers, science lab coats and scythes, they were always rapid and accompanied by the kind of witty patter that marks the true comedian. When not improvising lines, the written material created by Jake Spence and Charlie Robb was extremely strong, and deftly toed the line between obvious and subtle. Sketches such as the shoeshine parlour, at the cinema with Death and a husband/wife skit combined physical comedy and well-crafted lines, whilst all the accents were pitch-perfect. The opening sketch – a riff on the famous speech from Gladiator – sticks in my mind as a very successful example of how to include popular culture in comedy without becoming dependent on it for laughs.

The two leads obviously have great chemistry, and are lucky in that what was funny in the rehearsal room between two friends was also funny on stage. There really wasn’t much to find fault with – some jokes occasionally did fall flat, but that is undoubtedly the nature of live comedy. I can’t give the performance five stars, because it wasn’t super-professional, but I can give one piece of good advice: if you have some money to spare, head down to C-Nova and watch these two men give it their all. I have no doubt that for both, a successful career in comedy lies ahead. If they don’t decide to give the big-time a shot, I’m sure they’ll be entertaining their friends in the pub for years to come.

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Catherine Edwards

at 09:39 on 13th Aug 2014

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We entered C Nova's cosy studio to the sight of so many props and costumes that I wondered if we'd gone to the wrong place – surely a two-man show wasn't going to involve this many characters? But throughout the hour, Cambridge comedians Charlie Robb and Jake Spence rapidly transformed from gladiators to schizophrenia patients to pirates, until I'd lost count of the number of sketches. They darted between impersonations, punning and visual humour, whilst managing to include subtle mockery of the porn industry and sketch show stereotypes.

The choice to use so much varied and original material was a brave one, but they pulled it off. The show was kept fresh with snappy punchlines, and nobody tried to drag on with dead jokes. As an audience, we were kept on our toes, eager to see what the next scenario would throw at us.

Nothing was taken too seriously, as the two cast members frequently made wry asides, usually to tease each other and their makeshift props. A couple of jokes didn't quite go as planned or get the desired audience response. There were a few hiccups, such as when one of the boys briefly forgot which costume to change into next, but the pair were quick to incorporate these glitches into the joke. Their witty reactions to these moments and natural chemistry with each other showed a natural talent for comedy. The off-the-cuff riffing was just as, if not more, funny than the scripted material. The show may have been a bit rough around the edges, but that's what gave it its charm.

The duo seemed like the sort of people you'd want to be friends with, dancing through their costume changes and unafraid to look silly. Bounding around the small studio, they filled the room with their lively presence. Both men made live comedy look easy, and a lot of fun. Though the performance had a definite air of 'two mates having a laugh', it was clear that plenty of thought had gone into the conception of the show.

The script was extremely imaginative and the jokes were intelligent; they never took the obvious route and often incorporated a twist at the end of the scene to pack an extra punch. Some of the ideas could have benefited from more development, but the huge range of sketches and fast pace meant that moments which didn't resonate so well with the audience were quickly forgotten.

If they keep doing what they're doing, I'm sure this pair will be faces to watch out for on the comedy circuit in years to come, and they're already highly entertaining. There was less porn than had been suggested in the show description, but in almost every other aspect, they delivered.

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