The title of Reduced Shakespeare’s show is accurate to the point of pedantry. The trio faithfully follows the comedic trajectory from its (literal) birth, to yer-mum jokes (the nirvana of mirth). The result is unfortunately rather bland, with little ingenuity and even less originality.
History of Comedy is dated and predictable – a formula of comedy that ought perhaps to be relegated to the historical archives.
Any attempts at comedic subversion is limited to a postmodern ‘Why did the chicken cross the road?’ joke. “Why don’t we cross the road? We’re waiting for the chicken”, they quip, attempting to send up Beckett. The joke may have had more weight if Godot was, in fact, a postmodernist play. Fart jokes and slapstick pratfalls make the comedy accessible – no audience member is ever in any danger of humour going over their heads – if puerile.
The only truly affecting moment comes in a ukulele ditty praising the work of comedians past and present. The slight pause given after the mention of Robin Williams is beautifully understated, a respectful tribute that doesn’t overplay its hand.
It is easy to engage with the warmth of the comedian’s gentle, effusive personalities. Nevertheless, History of Comedy is dated and predictable – a formula of comedy that ought perhaps to be relegated to the historical archives.