Humphrey’s Unpleasantness was, with all honesty one of the most bizarre ‘comedy’ shows I’ve ever seen! Dubbed ‘a new sketch show’ it was certainly original, but most definitely not for the prudish as it requires an audience open to cannibalism, castration, sex and masturbation.
The 45 minute show included around a dozen sketches, all completely off the wall, causing varying levels of not only mirth, but shock and nervous laughter. It’s hard to understand how the writers (who starred in the show) came up with such bizarre ideas- which can only be described as random, bewildering, alternative and outrageous!
The tone of the whole show was set by the first sketch, with a traditional head teacher and pupil scene quickly turning surreal, with the eating of toe nails and lower school boys - specifically the model aeroplane society. The show also included a scene with a bank manager and client discussing a loan, while the manager masturbated under the table and two men not quite discussing their sexual practises with their dead cousin Humphrey. Although bizarre, many of the scenes were funny and definitely held the audiences attention, but on occasion went too far in my opinion, especially a mimed castration followed by the eating of the severed body part.
Despite the unique humour, the show was well written and professionally prepared. The scene changes were slick and the three cast members were extremely convincing when portraying the different characters. What made the show funny (as opposed to just plain weird) was the actors' talent at capturing and exaggerating features of common, globally recognised characters, such as the old fashioned head teacher. They were less successful when ridiculing yobs or 'chavs', but then I imagine such characters are further from their own personal experience. The cast were extremely relaxed acting the risqué subjects and were particularly good at adding meaning with their facial expressions. They also made good use of music, linking scenes or covering changes.
The atmosphere at the Burton Taylor Studio was charged and excited, with the audience largely students and I’d guess, friends of the cast. I was certainly glad of the enthusiasm shown by those on the front row, whose obvious enjoyment and raucous laughter was heard after every gag, covering the more nervous laughter from many in the audience.
Funny, disturbing, clever, crude, graphic, rude, bizarre, bewildering, Humphrey’s Unpleasantness definitely needs to be seen to be believed!
Vicky Hancock (Unverified), 28/11/07
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