Thu 4th – Sun 28th August 2016


Dominic Leonard

at 19:25 on 13th Aug 2016



'Gigglebox', the Durham Revue’s new show, takes its sources from television – every sketch is inspired by a different channel, whether it be the news, action films or sci-fi. This could have stilted creativity, but this year’s Revue is full of intelligence, style and humour that by a long way beats many other university sketch troupes doing the rounds this year at the Fringe.

The group as individuals are fantastic – each of the seven members has an individual, discernible personality that comes across in their sketches, including meta-comments on their own identities and one discussing the question of whether it is possible to tell which member of the troupe had written a sketch. One of the most respectable qualities of the show is their lack of a propensity to drag out a joke for too long – many sketch comedy groups will latch onto a pun and wring it dry over 5five minutes, but the Revue have the tact to keep their sketches short and sweet, with no conceit dragged unnecessarily out.

And it is worth saying that the puns are actually funny. There is a huge difference between puns that make sense and cause an audience to laugh out of understanding, and puns that are genuinely laugh-out-loud funny, and luckily the jokes of this show work in the latter. The show is very current, referencing the Labour Party, Brexit, modern pop music which fills in the gaps between sketches, and a particularly good Reservoir Dogs reference. One sketch sees what would happen if Bear Grylls found himself stuck on a stopped train with Ray Mears; another sees executives discussing ideas for business ventures based around tongue-twisters (the viability of square-cut punts, pheasant plucking and selling sea shells on a sea shore); and another explores a son’s trouble in coming out to his northern parents as a southerner, who would rather go to a Pret than the chippy. A particularly clever sketch is performed twice, with exactly the same lines, but in one is a lads holiday, and the other is a brutal WWI drama (cue puns on being ‘absolutely slaughtered’).

'Gigglebox' is perceptive, on-trend, and just swaying on the good side of risky; it is a brilliant hour of comedy that you would d be sorry to miss while this exceptionally talented group holds the baton.


Jessica Cripps

at 10:24 on 14th Aug 2016



Boy, do this lot deserve five stars. They drop jokes as if they were going out of fashion, actually achieving something that is no mean feat with a sketch show: unbridled humour. The title is not just a pun on a well-loved television show, but a warning. You will giggle from beginning to end.

The premise is simple: the Durham Revue have been given control of all television networks. This gives scope to cover a huge spectrum of sketches, from a ‘movie channel’ 007 sketch, where James Bond becomes delightfully dumb, to the point where such growing riotous laughter from the audience forces actors Luke Maskell (Bond) and Tom Harper (M) to wait for us all to settle down again before continuing, to a beautifully short ‘food network’ sketch which puns on the homonym of Thai/tie.

In fact, it is the variety of length that works in the group's favour and gives them scope for exploration with puns. The short sketches hit the comedic sweet spot before swiftly moving on to find the next one, while the longer sketches develop an idea to perfection without labouring on the point, as many other sketch shows do.

The subject matter ranges from poking fun at the absurdities of modern contemporary living, such as sat navs, forgotten passwords, the North/South divide and clubbing, to touching at the classical Canon via Julius Caesar. While they all have something unique, the best by far is a sketch that borrows from Deal or No Deal. Instead of normal contestants with boxes, they have Schrödinger and his cat, Jack in a box, Pandora, among others, and the punchline rounding off the sketch in a characteristically unpredictable way that proves hysterical.

What is particularly impressive, however, is the talent, teamwork and obvious friendship between the cast. Tom Harper, Ambika Mod, Abigail Weinstock, Luke Maskell, Tristan Robinson, Andrew Shires and Alison Middleton have something entirely their own.

It is a must see. If sketch show is your thing, make sure to make time for 'Gigglebox'. If you are sceptical about sketch show comedy, go and see 'Gigglebox'. It is that simple.


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