Review: Have I Got News For York?

Nouse quotes, sex jokes and talent: reviews Comedysoc’s latest show

Image: James Haikney

★★★★☆

Venue: V/045

As a Nouse editor I, like the panellists, learnt far too much about my own paper watching Comedysoc’s second Have I Got News For York? performance of the year. Like its BBC counterpart, the show featured four panellists, Comedysoc’s Marcus Crabb and Rebecca Saw and Nouse’s deputy Editor Finn Judge and deputy Muse editor Jack Davies, led by host Zack Sizer. Through a series of games themed around Nouse’s and York Vision’s more dubious articles, the panel competed to get the most laughs and definitely got them.

One of the best parts of the show was the prelude by the Shambles, Comedysoc’s incredibly talented improv group. Carpenters, presidents and brides came out with more one-liners than I thought possible to squeeze into 5 minute scenes. Fronter Kate Weedy conducted the show intuitively, stopping scenes at just the right moment so very few jokes fell flat. Her energy was contagious for both audience and performers, allowing the Shambles show a fantastic pace. Performers jumped from game to game and character to character at a dizzying rate, an ambitious but well-achieved feat. Even the slight anti-climax of the final song was carried well, with the audience clapping and singing along to the chorus. Jokes about Nazi Germany and hard wood aside, the humour never felt forced. For those of us used to an online world where humour usually comes from laughing at someone’s faults, it was refreshing to see a show that was just simply hilarious.  Audience participation was surprisingly popular, with the crowd erupting with suggestions on cue. It is this which makes Comedysoc’s shows a far more unique experience than offered by other societies; the crowd’s enthusiasm makes their shows feel like a community, even if you go alone.

The panel did seem to lack some of this buzz – with an interval in-between, the show felt much like settling down to watch your favourite TV show after running riot with your mates. Well planned and led by a confidently comical host, Have I Got News For York? was nonetheless hilarious. Focusing on university news and events, Comedysoc’s termly show is a laugh for any York student; if you’ve ever had a bone to pick with YUSU or student media, this is the place to go. Guessing headlines, filling in the blanks of some incredibly strange Nouse quotes and charades formed most of the content in a close cut competition, won in the end by Davies and Saw. The show was definitely well researched; for most of the audience, it was a chance to actually learn something about things going on in the university while laughing at the same time. The show balanced on the fine line between entertainment and campus news, making the kind of thing most students don’t bother reading about hilarious.

While the show was largely dominated by the Comedysoc members, Jack Davies and Finn Judge had some great moments. Davies seemed well prepared with quips against the now deceased York Vision, while Finn Judge’s well experienced and skilled handling of Charades was a particular highlight, amazing both his teammate Marcus Crabb and the audience. The two guest panellists were initially quiet but their confidence grew throughout the show, whether by alcohol or audience encouragement. Naturally of course host Zack Sizer’s parts were scripted – while this was necessary for the show to run smoothly, it wasn’t always effective in performance. Always looking down to read, this did affect the delivery of some of the humour as parts seemed like a presentation. However, it was clear that Sizer alongside Saw and Crabb were seasoned performers who carried the show hilariously, and certainly weren’t held back by scripting or strangely juddering powerpoint animations. The Comedysoc performers did well to make their guests and the audience feel comfortable – aside from the pain of laughing a bit too hard.

Displaying talent, skill and imagination, Comedysoc is certainly not a society to be underestimated. Have I Got News For York? was a well-planned and smoothly executed comedy performance, keeping a pretty large audience in fits of laughter. Overall, Comedysoc’s latest instalment made for an excellent evening to be followed only by a crisp cold J2O in a YUSU bar. Did you know those had been abolished and brought back because of something or other? Me neither.

Catch Comedysoc’s next show featuring stand-up comedy and sketches tomorrow evening in V/045 at 8pm.

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