Paul Merton and his Impro Chums

Anyone who has seen ‘Who’s Line Is It Anyway’ on television or the Shambles at one of their regular gigs will know the set up.

The group exploited the bland offerings of the audience to full effect, particularly tripping each other up with difficult lines when dictating others’ speech

Venue: York Royal Opera House
Date: Friday 16th May 2008
Rating: ****

Anyone who has seen ‘Who’s Line Is It Anyway’ on television or the Shambles at one of their regular gigs will know the set up. A group of comedians take suggestions directly from the audience and use them to create impromptu sketches of ridiculous situations using set formats.

You get your typical ‘two nuns walk into a brothel’ in mime and your ‘three drunken environmental health inspectors enter a kabab shop’; fairly predictable in content but nevertheless each time originally entertaining. Paul Merton received an enormous round of applause when he finally managed to guess his on-stage-job as a “breeder of fruit-flies, specifically the Drosophila species, which in turn strimmed Matthew Kelly’s nose hair”. His mere stamina alone was commendable!

Merton, from ‘Have I Got News For You’, was joined by ‘chums’ Lee Simpson, Richard Vranch, Suki Webster and Mike McShane. Vranch effortlessly provided a musical accompaniment to several of the skits with simple ditties on guitar or keyboard adding to the hilarity. One favourite of the night was a scene in a train station, in the style of Gilbert and Sullivan, in which Merton and Webster had to make up rhyming lyrics on the spot.

I felt the only fault lay with the audience who provided stunningly average suggestions. ‘A library’, ‘Action Movie’, ‘Priests’… you know the sort. The group however, exploited these bland offerings to full effect particularly tripping each other up with difficult lines when dictating others’ speech. Overall, an absorbing night of fast paced comedy, well worth a see.

One comment

  1. It has to be said, this was one night out I will not soon forget. I was also lucky enough to meet Mike and Paul outside afterwards – autographs all round!

    I am ashamed to say, i dont go to York Uni, and found this page through a search engine – you would be suprised how many websites contains the words – Matthew, Kelly, Nose, Hair, Fruit, Flies and Breeder – and this is the only one which refers to the show. Weird what you find on the internet.

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