Review: Dumpf

Image credit: Image credit: ADC

From the first “knock knock” joke that opens Dümpf, it’s obvious that lots of it is going to be really excellent. There’s all the misdirection of a tea-stained treasure map; traditional, strong punch lines are in no short supply; commitment to character springs from the writing into assured performance. It’s just a shame these values weren’t maintained through the entire show.

Certainly most of Dümpf met these – admittedly high – standards: some sketches just missed the mark slightly. When writers Adrian Gray and Archie Henderson get their hands on a decent premise for a sketch, everything is tuned brilliantly: the world champion gymnast, the presentation from Barry Powerpoint, David Attenborough’s autobiography. But they are, on the whole, long sketches, and this doesn’t always do them favours. I couldn’t understand, for instance, why the hilarious ‘Google knows’ song was delivered by a supergroup of philosophers – or why Olivia Le Andersen’s Danish dance class provided an excuse to impersonate celebrities (allegedly).

I’d be lying to say I didn’t spot moments of Dümpf that seemed to owe debts to other comedians: their game show, for example, had a hint of Mitchell and Webb to it. But I could never fault the team for laziness: this scene goes far beyond the original idea, as do many of the others. Every twist turns around and around and comes back on itself: I’m happy to bet that, whatever your comedy pedigree, you won’t guess the punchline to the road safety skit. The reworking of the electronic confession booth went from complete absurdism on one outing to biting satire the next: it takes a remarkable concept to switch from one to the other with such dexterity.

Dümpf ‘s closer, it must be said, is exceptional. Harry Potter is a sure fire crowd-pleaser in Cambridge comedy and this somehow topped them all. It created a brilliant atmosphere, slotted in perfectly with their audience’s fierce loyalty towards the characters and quoted to great effect some of the most memorable lines  - although bad luck for Henderson to pick an audience member with a thoroughly encyclopaedic Potter knowledge. This sketch proved that Dümpf can go far enough into the ridiculous to become glorious, and indeed often does: sadly, sometimes it gets a bit stuck.


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