Big Brass

For those who run at the mere mention of the phrase ‘musical comedy’, this sketch show is for you. The trio aim themselves at those ‘sick of always seeing the same old student sketch comedy tropes, with their meaningless repetition and turgid self-reference’ before going on to repeat and make reference to themselves in turgid fashion, naturally. 


Whilst its haphazardness and almost improvised demeanour is perhaps the show's greatest strength, it is also the main component that threatens to stifle the trio’s material.

Performing in a state of constant faux-awkwardness throughout, Nick Davies, Barney Iley, and David Meredith merge musical sketches that ‘happen’ to be funny with funny sketches that ‘happen’ to include music. This sense of awkwardness and the haphazard way in which the trio progress through the sketches ascends to Tommy Cooper levels of self-deprecation. Part of an inside joke? Yes. Completely understood? Perhaps not, but whilst this may reduce the response to a titter at times rather than a full-out chortle, this isn’t a bad thing and leads to a continuous succession of unpredictable punchlines.

This is further developed in a very conscious way, especially during an early sketch that re-contextualises the punchline after the joke has been made, delaying the response. This foreshadows the rest of the performance: the punchlines never become predictable, are often prolonged and always imaginative.

The highlights of the show follow this pattern with both the ‘lute’ and ‘c-a-b-b-a-g-e’ songs being the most memorable and well performed sketches. Both heavily feature David Meredith who, as the outsider to many of the trio’s jokes, is most closely allied with my own punchline experiences and is no doubt the highlight of the show. Davies' brash behaviour and Iley acting as frontman compliment Meredith's understatement and the three together allow one another the space to push forward their own talents during their moments in the limelight.

Referring back to their own blurb, this is a sketch show that breaks new ground, is erratic and genuinely interesting. Whilst its haphazardness and almost improvised demeanour is perhaps the show's greatest strength, it is also the main component that threatens to stifle the trio’s material. By no means is this a show to be missed but it should be noted that whilst the highlights are fantastic, they are by no means consistent. So look out for the bizarre pea, corn and pineapple love triangle and the montage of ‘adagio for strings’ that culminates in an onstage blowjob. De-contextualised punchlines fit for a de-contextualised write up. 

Reviews by Jack Chown

Gilded Balloon

The Sons of Pitches

★★★
C venues - C

The Oxford Gargoyles: Jazz a Cappella

★★★★
Just The Tonic at the Caves

No Strings

★★★★★
Just The Tonic at the Caves

Big Brass

★★★★
C venues - C

The Blues Brothers- Live

★★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

A new sketch show from the current and former presidents of the world famous Oxford Revue. Come along. It'll be really nice. ‘Fast-paced, unconventional, cutting and very funny ... verged on genius’ **** (Oxford Student). Praise for previous performances: ‘Witty, inventive and extremely clever ... the comedy stars of the future’ ***** (ThreeWeeks). ‘A blistering, original and subversive hour of pure unrelenting hilarity ... not to be missed’ ***** (BroadwayBaby.com).