The Best of Student Comedy: An Education of Wit
Former Edinburgh Revue president Polly Glynn gives us a tutorial on the huge selection of student troupes at this year's Fringe
As the Edinburgh Fringe approaches once more, there’s so much comedy talent nurtured in our universities it becomes difficult to choose who to support.
Obviously, the 'Doxbridge' contingency (to include the prestigious Durham Revue) gets its fair share of well-deserved attention, but there are also a plethora of students from all over the UK vying to tickle you.
The Edinburgh Revue, now in their 8th Fringe year, bring two shows to the world’s largest arts festival: The Edinburgh Revue Stand-Up Show (The Beehive Inn, 12.10pm) and Sketches in Scarlet (Opium Upstairs, except Weds, 2.30pm). I'm involved with the latter, but you needn't just take my word for it: the Revue includes sets from Joe H, a Chortle Student Comedy Award semi-finalist and winner of the Revue's coveted Stand-Up Championship.
Furthermore, this comedy collective has spawned several successful splinter groups who are making waves on the local Edinburgh scene and have independent shows at the Fringe. These include Planet Caramel: Wafer Biscuit (Opium Upstairs, Sat-Mon 6.15pm, Wed-Fri 11pm), a sexy, surreal blend of sketch comedy with a free Tunnock's wafer for every audience member; stand-up with Savage and Ralph: Joyful Erotica (Espionage, Pravda Room, 9pm); Chutney Exhibition: Anyone for Apocalypse? (Black Medicine, 6pm), and F-Holes (Paradise Palms, 1.10pm). Then there is improvised input from Spontaneous Sherlock (The Liquid Rooms, 9.05pm), featuring an unscripted troupe playing audience suggestions to the tune of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and, of course, the renowned Improverts, now in their 26th year (Bedlam Theatre, 12.30am).
Talking of improvisation, The Shambles (Surgeon’s Hall: theSpace, 10.20pm) of York are back for another hour of silly spontaneity. They also bring with them the crowdfunded The Room: The Musical (City Café, 1am) – a melodic take on Tommy Wiseau’s screen masterpiece, and sketches with Present and Correct: Fan Club (Surgeon’s Hall: theSpace, 10.45am).
Let’s also not forget the offerings from Leeds University Comedy Kabaret (Jekyll and Hyde – The Crypt, 1.30pm), Queen Margaret's University's Latex and Roses (Just the Tonic – The Wee One, 9pm), The Liverpool Revue (The Liquid Rooms, 9.40pm, 16-22nd only) and Bristol Improv Steals the Show (Sportsters, 6.45pm).
Student comedy is the breeding ground for stars of the future comedy scene, and it's not just for former Footlights alumni such as Messrs Fry and Laurie. For instance, Massive Dad, at the forefront of contemporary sketch comedy, emerged from Durham. Likewise, there's David Elms of Edinburgh University and Twins, breakout members of the Leeds Tealights. And this is only the very tip of the iceberg.
By supporting today's university groups it gives you not just a great hour of comedy now but also a glimpse at tomorrow's big names.
The UK Student Comedy Network's Facebook group can be found at www.facebook.com/groups/250683155141612/392571417619451