Jamie meets the Pope, Corpus Playroom, Mon 21st Jan, 9.30pm
There is always the fear that our usual supervisions, gowns and ‘extravagant’ student life will occupy most stand-up comedy in Cambridge. I was therefore more than pleasantly surprised to have an unexpected and original array of witty material continuously thrown at me from the very talented Jamie Fraser and Ben Pope.
Aside from a disappointing start where ‘buddy comedy’ took the form of a few minutes awkward exchange of artificial jokes and death by PowerPoint – no dynamic duo – the show kicked in with a set from Fraser followed by Pope and a quick ‘on-screen intermission’.
Fraser started a little nervously but his persona was that of someone with an awkward nature so it was difficult to tell whether ‘mistakes’ had really been made or whether they were part of his act. Either way, I found his entrance a little stilted but can safely say that the nervous performance didn’t last long. He continued with cracking plots and punch-lines that had the audience howling. Here the PowerPoint had greater effect and added depth to his performance. His best moments included a discussion on the dangers of sleep-talking next to his girlfriend, insults against countries that no longer exist (the Mayans’ blindness to early history was a personal favourite) and a superbly delivered, poignant end. He ended his set with a girl almost choking with laughter in the front row and an audience beaming and applauding.
Pope then made his entrance, exuding confidence and a sense that he was more experienced. He delivered his act with gusto from start to finish to the delight of his spectators. The silhouettes of Gucci models with their mouths desperately pleading to be nourished was a perfect example of his ability to turn popular observations into pure comedy genius. Nearer the end he sometimes failed to deliver punchlines on time and I ended up laughing a second too late and rather awkwardly as the joke came to light. I could blame myself for being too slow or perhaps it was that he made too quick a use of every apathetic response. I admired his spontaneity but he would have done well to take more pauses. His final line didn’t receive much response from the audience for this reason but it was a great performance none the less. His constant sweeping aside of his fringe was a little irritating and maybe making a joke of it would have made it less so. Otherwise, he managed the stage in an assured manner and carried himself very well.
So, aside from poor lighting and the occasional awkward slip-up, this was a thoroughly enjoyable evening. The audience’s continuous laughter and applause throughout the night assure more success to come for both.