The Ejaculate Conception

Mon 20th – Mon 27th August 2012


Ella Griffiths

at 01:22 on 23rd Aug 2012



The fact that the creators of the fantastically titled ‘Ejaculate Conception’ belong to a troupe called The Gubernaculum goes some way towards demonstrating their witty wordplay and intelligent sense of humour. With a group title inspired by a ligament that guides the foetal testis during its descent into the scrotum, these Oxbridge medical students contemplating a career change offer original material but few proper laughs in their new show.

Certainly, their intellectual and classist banter is subtle and entertaining, especially an amusing sketch in which a banker and tramp discuss the merits of their jobs in the City and the perils of using sperm banks in the credit crunch. However, these scenes don’t evoke side-splitting laughs, rather a light chuckle, since their momentum and intensity wane as initially hilarious concepts fade in over-long situations. Many of the ideas are refreshingly funny and crammed with puns, such as the unstable CBBC presenter and his puppet or the absurdly comical depiction of rowdy football fans adopting the Eucharist as their new sport. The ovary clock is also a fantastically witty satire of modern family planning that makes good use of costume, as are the foetuses in the womb debating the origins of life,demonstrating the group’s talent for characterisation. However, there seems to be a repetitive selection of fall-back jokes that drag down the success of the essentially effective ideas. While the heavy reliance on student experiences, medical scenarios and class mockery, including omnipresent and stereotypically ‘posh’ accents, adds some cohesion to the show, it also becomes slightly lethargic and lacks surprise. Indeed, these ‘overeducated and misunderstood junior doctors’ create many sketches that are flatly anticlimactic rather than bitingly satirical, like the inhaler salesman and swallowing scene, that desperately need refining and an injection of energy. Finally, the clunky and slow-paced transitions between shows undermine the precision of the sketches themselves, lacking the seamless speed needed for non-stop laughs.

Nevertheless, these are talented and confident performers that interact well to create farcical characters that will resonate with a student audience. With an expanded repertoire, a dash of further political incisiveness and a smoother, faster set, The Gubernaculum could hone their unique sense of humour into a brilliant show.


Thomas Brada

at 01:10 on 24th Aug 2012



I am immature. Ejaculate is a funny word. I laugh. It is fair to say that the student comedy sketch show, 'The Ejaculate Conception', gets off on the right foot. Yet from such a good start there is always a risk that things can go downhill. In this case, the comedic nature of the title represents the comic philosophy of the entire show which revels in its employment of witty wordplay, yet unfortunately does little else of comedic note. Before my criticism takes a more caustic turn, I feel obliged to shine a light on the more impressive aspects of the production. The performance flits from madcap scenario to madcap scenario, with the madcap nature often emphasised by undeniably amusing costuming and a willingness on the performers' part to bare flesh (I do not mean to suggest that the performers are merely comedic prostitutes, showing skin for the sake of a titter).

This dignity-in-exchange-for-laughter aside, there are some genuinely hilarious ideas and genius moments which punctuate this show. My particular highlights include: the murderous ex-CBeebies presenter with a fondness for pasta collages and kidnap, the self-proclaimed "bit of a dickhead from the Daily Mail" journalist, the Arab Spring mineral water with a hint of freedom and finally Anthony the tiger, whose RADA-honed acting skills are just great, while his social skills rather leave something to be desired.

I was however, frequently distracted from these genuine moments of hilarity by some simple lack of polish. The very un-seemless scene changes and the frequent lack of comic content beyond the visually farcical and the pointed punch line are things which can be easily changed and would improve the piece as a whole.

By the end of the show I came to the conclusion that I had watched an hour of quite clever one-liners stretched out rather unnecessarily into little narrative parodies which aren't quite as clever as the wordplays themselves. Nonetheless, I must assert again that I am immature. And the word ejaculate is still funny. And the performers put their best efforts into each character and comic situation. For these reasons I am inclined to subdue my more vindictive side and award this production a star rating more in tune with the effort and energy they clearly put into developing the show.


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