The Oxford Imps: Pun and Games

You can never predict what’s going to happen next when it comes to the Oxford Imps – and that’s precisely what makes their show such a great success. This year, six young and upbeat comedians again put themselves at the crowd’s mercy with energy and zeal, introduced by a charismatic and charming host. Every sketch and game that the Imps put forward is built upon prompts from the audience, so come armed with your children and with your imagination.

They keep it clean, silly, satirical and fast-paced.

At the performance that I attended, some of the suggestions included telling a story in text language, a guessing game involving a lampshade attack, as well as a musical developed around the word ‘irony’. No performance will ever be the same as the last, so even if you’ve seen the Imps perform before, you can be sure that you will enjoy a completely new set of skits. They keep it clean, silly, satirical and fast-paced. Adults and kids enjoy the show as much as each other, and laugh along with the participants throughout.

Each comedian displays his or her own witty style. Whilst some are stronger than others, overall the performers work well as a team. Sophie Ward in particular succeeds in having children in stitches with her funny faces and voices. Vicky Hawley and Frederick Clayton also prove to be a sturdy double act – when I saw them they enacted an artsy couple who had misplaced their child several months ago.

Whilst some suggestions from the audience seemed to be bypassed or misheard, the outcome was still comical and creative. The odd sticky spot is to be expected in such genuine improvisation, but the Imps are good at jumping to each other’s aid. They aren’t afraid to laugh at each other or at themselves, which also skilfully averts any awkward pauses. The audience is encouraged to participate in good humoured call-outs when a mistake is made or games are played. The Imps are also very good at reading their audience’s reactions and cutting scenes short or flipping them into something different if they aren’t going down as well as hoped. This, along with the energetic transitions between scenes, ensured that there wasn’t a dull moment.

When the host announced that it was the end of the show, there was a disappointed cry from the audience. I highly recommend the show – without a doubt the Imps will have several returning fans!

Reviews by Kayleigh Blair

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The Blurb

The Oxford Imps are a critically-acclaimed, internationally-touring comedy group comprised of a mixture of Oxford University students and local Oxford residents. Last year their sell-out run at The Gilded Balloon was described as ‘a tightly paced, incredibly funny show’ (ThreeWeeks) containing ‘quick wit and effortless wordplay... Superhuman stuff’ ( This year The Oxford Imps return with their light-hearted, fast-paced, family-friendly brand of improvised comedy. Each show begins with improvised sketches, stories, games and songs, before culminating in a twenty-minute(ish) improvised mini-play, which can vary from Shakespeare to James Bond to musicals!