Miranda Stephenson

Comic Sans: Times New No-Man is running from Wed 30th November – Fri 2nd December 2022 at the ADC Theatre.

If you’ve ever seen a sketch show before, you’ll know that historically – frustratingly – the shows that people talk about have tended to be pretty male-dominated. Monty Python? Mitchell and Webb? Fry and Laurie? Horrible Histories? They’ve all been fantastic and significant in their own right, and yet something rubs me the wrong way about how little French and Saunders are brought up in comparison– and I’m still waiting for the day that the phenomenal Smack the Pony gets the posthumous hype it deserves. With this in mind, Comic Sans, an improv comedy sketch show featuring an exclusively female and non-binary cast, is a fresh, meaningful, and hilarious gem that I’d encourage everyone to go and see. If you’ve got a friend who’s on the fence about whether women are actually funny (in which case, you’ve made some life choices, but okay), then this is the show that will win you that argument.

Comic Sans: Times New No-Man is the fifth instalment of the Cambridge Impronauts‘Comic Sans’ series, which has been running on an annual basis since 2018. It’s one glorious hour of improv comedy sketches, all performed by a female and non-binary cast ‘without a script or a man in sight’. The show was split into two halves of rapid-fire improv sketches, broken up by two comedic monologues from the enthusiastic Phoebe Deller. Deller proved a natural at engaging the audience, before handing the stage to the rest of the cast.

“Whilst improv comedy is notoriously intimidating, this performance truly made it look easy.”

What ensued was a witty, goofy smorgasbord of gleefully chaotic comedy. Although the sketches are never the same from one show to the next, the opening night boasted animal impressions, a striking array of accents, and an impressively broad thematic repertoire. The members of JLS tried to claw back their fading fame by taking up Olympic curling, whilst cowboys rode invisible horses and fought over their mutual lady-friend. Other highlights included a woman turning up to a date to find out that her date was actually a frog (“Ooh,” she cooed, “You’re so athletic”), and a genuinely priceless parody of three students on the Varsity ski trip. The cast of performers changes slightly every night, but all seemed very comfortable with each other, appearing to have just as much fun as the audience themselves. Francesca Lees and Maia von Malaisé were particular standouts, but every single performer had fantastic moments that left the audience cackling with laughter.

Whilst improv comedy is notoriously intimidating, this performance truly made it look easy, with no awkward moments to ruin the playfully silly atmosphere. All in all, it would be a shame to miss it – and tonight’s the final night, so get tickets while you can!

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