EFR - Reviews of Blind Mirth Improv Comedy at the Fringe 2015

Blind Mirth Improv Comedy at the Fringe 2015

Sat 8th – Sat 22nd August 2015

reviews

William Shaw

at 09:38 on 18th Aug 2015

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They say that comedy is all a matter of timing, and if that's the case then Blind Mirth should be congratulated. By playing their show at nine o'clock, they've acquire an audience just drunk enough to be willing to shout out interesting and outrageous improv suggestions, but not so drunk that the act's sharp wit and playfully inventive style go unnoticed. An effortlessly brilliant, laugh-a-minute show, this is Fringe improv at its best,

The format is a show of two halves: the first a series of 'short-form' pieces, essentially a series of increasingly elaborate parlour games; the second, a 'long-form' piece consisting of interconnected sketches. All five of the performers (one member of the troupe was unfortunately taken ill) display a real knack for clever wordplay and physical comedy. The repartee with the audience, so often an awkward aspect of student drama, was handled beautifully, demonstrating the kind of spontaneity and willingness to go with the crowd that this kind of show lives or dies on. The games themselves were frequently surreal, rapid-firing and full of energy, and Blind Mirth manage to pull together in minutes material of the quality many comedians would spend weeks writing. These people clearly know what they're doing.

The show's few weaknesses arise as a result of the troupe not quite playing to its own strengths. The long-form second half, while largely solid, has nothing like the gravitas or manic energy of the freewheeling first half, and it's hard not to detect a visible drop in the laughs per minute rate as the show rounds the fifty minute mark. To their credit, at last night's performance the troupe seemed aware of this, and rounded things off with a sublime word game, but its conclusion felt like an expedient to try and leave the best impression, rather than a natural conclusion for the show. While a certain degree of variety is needed in a show like this, the decision to deliberately spend half of the show on weaker material looks odd.

But despite the fact that the show's structure occasionally works against it, this is a superb comedy show. It demonstrates the self-awareness necessary to abandon jokes that aren't working and adapt on the fly. The show ends with the phrase "If you enjoyed the show, please come again, it's totally different. If you didn't enjoy the show, please come again, it's totally different." Sound advice either way.

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Isabella Goldstein

at 11:22 on 18th Aug 2015

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Blind Mirth offer up a confident, engaging comedy improv act at this year’s Fringe. From the moment that they walked out onstage, the troupe were experts at gauging their audience’s feelings, always quick to perceive which routines to sustain and which to discard. The result was a vibrant, fast-paced show that couldn’t fail to bring a smile to the faces of everyone in the room.

The performance was at its strongest when it used games to generate structure. ‘Spin doctor’, where one of the troupe played a politician who had to respond to questions according to the (ever changing) orders of his spin doctor, proved a hilarious play on stereotypes. Another game, ‘Oscar winning moments,’ was a clever nod to comedy that underlines the overdone and disingenuous.

Audience participation was definitely one of the troupe’s strong suits – rarely were we ever spoken at (an easy trap to fall into), rather, we were consistently being asked to think, to shout things out, to take the stage. Blind Mirth were also particularly skilled at taking a series of ideas and suggestions from the audience and meshing them together into short sketches, which were always brilliantly random.

As with all acting experiments, there were times where these mash-ups fell flat on their face. The performance was weakest where the comedians stuck with an idea that had proved less successful with the audience and tried to turn it around. Whilst I applaude this fighting spirit, I can’t help but feel that the performance was better when Blind Mirth stuck to and developed upon the course of natural laughter.

There were some great examples of this during the situation/relationship/object/location game, where the performance bore a host of weird and wacky scenarios and characters that the audience seemed to adore. A feminist launderette, a deformed army of Shakespearean lords, and a ferry to the underworld that made pit-stops at Greggs are to name but a few.

The decision to end with the game ‘sex with me,’ where the crowd shouted out objects and the troupe made a series of near the mark sexual innuendos, was a nice testament to the audience focused nature of the show. As imagined, it also threw up some fairly memorable quotes.

The test of any comedy improv is in the laughs and Blind Mirth had the room lit-up and roaring throughout their hour set.

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