Review: Amirite?

Freya Sanders 18 May 2014

View the Exclusive Video Preview of the show here

Filling out the ADC in exam term is no mean feat, but these guys managed it; and after 10 minutes it was easy to see why: they put on a cracking show.

This brilliant quartet of stand-up virtuosos presented themselves under the title ‘Amirite?’, thereby heralding the highly intelligent self-referentiality that let them get away with comedic murder. There was improvisation that fell a bit flat; there were jokes that were too niche or too close to the line. But hiccups and flaws were acknowledged; and then that acknowledgment was acknowledged, deemed ‘meta’ and developed into serious comedy.

So in the end, what initially seemed like shortcomings became fundamental to the texture of the show. And this is important: it takes true talent to laugh at oneself.

Charlie Palmer, who was compèring, has this art down to a T. He rapidly established a fabulous rapport with the audience, which continued throughout the show. We were therefore putty in his hands.

Charlie Palmer was a fantasitc compère                                                         Credit: Richard Cadman

Both he and Archie Henderson were highly adept in the art of stringing the audience along. Their delay tactics were exceptionally successful; as Ben Pope reminded us later in the show, comedy is just tragedy plus time. Often, our expectations were almost lowered during the gradual lead up to punch lines, so that when jokes climaxed, it was with maximum hilarity.

Most memorable was Palmer’s bitingly satirical, hysterical assessment of the infamous Kelis song, ‘Milkshake’, which was cautiously alluded to in the preview. It had people – figuratively – rolling in the aisles.

Indeed, all four yielded the most laughs by gravely subjecting that which is ridiculous in this world to serious, even academic, scrutiny. Palmer’s exploration of the socioeconomic impacts of all the boys going to Kelis’ yard included a cheeky pie chart. Milo Edwards had great success with a profound analysis of some of the more absurd corners of Yahoo Answers.

It seems that the troupe as a whole accepted their limitations: they are unable to shake the image of the pernickety, slightly socially awkward, painfully articulate Cambridge comedian. So they didn’t try to; instead, they accentuated all that is loveable about such a persona.

Ben Pope, outgoing president of the Footlights, shuffling shoeless onto the stage, embodied this attitude. Like Palmer, his ability to get the audience to dance to his tune is exceptional, while he kept the audience entirely on our toes with jokes that were unexpected, erudite, cripplingly funny or all of the above. He will be sorely missed on the stage of the ADC.

Let’s hope Cambridge can produce plenty more awkward male classicists with penchants for knitwear and propensities to tell great jokes.