EFR - Reviews of Bafflesmash

Bafflesmash

Fri 7th – Sun 30th August 2015

reviews

Rowena Henley

at 11:05 on 13th Aug 2015

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Bafflesmash is a sketch comedy show written and performed by three Cambridge Footlights regulars, Jamie Armitage, Tom Fairbairn and Rob Oldham. The show was certainly entertaining but, amongst the hundreds of other sketch shows scattered across the festival, I found it to be lacking in the finesse which would have made it truly remarkable.

Performing to a fully packed venue, our three performers had an incredible energy and eagerness, making them immediately likeable. Travelling through a series of absurdities, Jamie, Tom and Rob all held their own and didn’t once slip into laughter, something which happens more often than not and does serious damage to a performance’s quality.

The sketches had some admirable ideas behind them, with my personal favourites being the reoccurring character of Aslan and the scene in which Harry Potter administers a questionable ‘love’ potion. Sadly, however, I didn’t find the humour to be as intelligent and subtly satirical as other sketch shows I have seen. A scene involving three Frenchmen had some complex dialogue, but the concept was simple and ineffective. The show’s topical references (to Barack Obama, North Korea and Russian nuclear devices) didn’t work particularly well and were only mildly amusing. However, I should definitely state that this seems to be due to personal preference as the audience were roaring with laughter for the majority of the evening. Perhaps being a sketch show veteran has anesthetized me to certain styles of humour.

Pacing was a problem in Bafflesmash, also. Almost every sketch lasted about three to five minutes, with only a few let ups in the form of shorter scenes or one-liners. Some variety of scene length is a key element for any successful sketch show, and this one had very little.

The evening definitely ended on a high, however, with a reunion of all the show’s most successful characters in a brilliant scene involving an Isis hostage situation. As all good sketch shows, this one handled controversial subjects with humour and professionalism and did not stray into the grey area between comedy and unnecessary offensiveness.

Bafflesmash is certainly a show worthy of your time if you are up for an evening of unashamed silliness and unpretentious humour (with the added bonus of being completely free). Although it was by no means my favourite sketch compilation of the fringe, it was still a bloody good show.

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Alannah Jones

at 12:09 on 13th Aug 2015

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Crammed into a tiny cellar or ‘sex dungeon/nuclear bomb shelter’ deep in the bowels of a rambling Edinburgh pub is a three-pronged tour-de-force of hilarity, individually known as Jamie Armitage, Tom Fairbairn and Rob Oldham, collectively they are Bafflesmash. I presumed the name was an attempt to intimate that the sketch comedy show promised to be both baffling and smashing; brilliantly stupid and stupidly brilliant. The show itself more than lived up to this chiasmic premise, right from the get-go – I began sniggering away only 5 seconds into the first sketch, as did the greater part of the audience, providing a near-constant laughing track that barely paused throughout the whole set. I would definitely recommend it to those who, like me, have a taste for comedy of the more absurd and silly - or just downright ridiculous.

The sketches seemed to be catered – though not exclusively - towards the humour and temperament of those who grew up in the 90s and 00s, the younger strain of fringe-goers, as Baffelsmash draws upon a wide bank of characters from our collective childhoods, demonstrating an excellent range from Harry Potter, Wallace and Gromit and Narnia to the Cold War, Isis and Arch-Bishop Justin Welby. The ease with which all three performers switched between characters made for a very smooth show, leaping effortlessly from Charles Dickens to Grand Theft Auto with panache and sweaty enthusiasm. All three raced gleefully through the eclectic set, each proving his own versatility both vocally and physically. A personal highlight was the Charles Dickens opposite-goblin, exhibiting playful silliness coupled with amusing wordplay.

Unashamedly absurd, often hilariously crude and yet still pretty damn clever, this was a well-rounded and highly enjoyable piece of sketch comedy. My only criticism would be that at times the show may have relied on profanity a little too much for cheap laughs. However this was disappointing rather than offensive – by the mid-point of the show we all knew they were capable of more witty gags, but found ourselves cackling anyway. This show is refreshingly unpredictable and at times nothing short of hilarious, this is probably the best free show I have seen at the fringe and right good laugh.

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