Following the success of last year’s show, University Challenged: Round 2 was a great evening of sometimes cringey, mostly wonderful comedy. The first run of the comedy quiz show saw ‘Corpus Christi College’ battle it out against ‘YAAAAS Queens College’ in a series of rounds featuring ridiculous questions, terrible roasts and hilarious dancing. The host, described to be ‘Jeremy Paxman-esque’, and the two ‘God’-like writers, worked really well to create a light hearted and witty atmosphere within which the eight comedians shone. Who wouldn’t pay for 60 minutes of pure comic relief?
The concept of the show sets it apart from most ADC plays of the year – its impromptu style gives it a unique and refreshing edge over other comedy shows as comedians are pitted against each other and made to cater to silly challenges for a random number of points.
The quiz was split into six rounds: a verbal round, a picture round, ‘roast the host’, the press conference, interpretive dance and a final verbal round for double the points (“what is two times arbitrary?”). The diversity of the rounds allowed the comedians to develop specialized characteristics (such as Gueroult, who stuck to a post 19th Century received pronunciation, and Ragozzino, who maintained a hilariously awkward and confused expression throughout), while also creating variety in their humor.
What was particularly entertaining was the interactions between members. As with any impromptu show, the jokes sometimes became drab. But the host and ‘God’ were great at shaking it up and engaging with the audience. My personal favorite was the Interpretative Dance Round where we saw ‘God’ (often provocatively) dance out suggestions from the audience (such as ‘train driver’).
Lighting and sound were also used well for comedic effect with classics such as the Sad Trombone sound making erratic appearances. A lot of the show did rely on sound, including the wacky buzzer sounds (shout out to Durman’s buzzer – “this is the sound I make when I cum”) and the interpretive dance. As such, the sound directors did a great job of complementing the participants’ comedy.
However, there was certainly a big imbalance in terms of contestant participation, with a few comedians carrying most of the show. There may be room here to reconsider the way in which teams are formed and ensuring that comedians and teams are more compatible with each other.