Improvised Comedy with the Oxford Imps

'Whose Line Is It Anyway?' Style Comedy! We need your suggestions...!
The Wheatsheaf (Wheatsheaf Alley, off High St), Mondays

If comedy were a revolution, the Oxford Imps forced a riot which Ghandi himself would have been unable to control. The hype, the drama, the bustling crowd, and the NASA-like countdown from the announcer set the feverish tone of excitement at The New Theatre in Oxford Thursday night. As the devil (or rather, imp) of the logo stared at the crowd forbodingly, the Imps prepared for what can only be described as a once in a lifetime showing of a genuine display of comedy.

Improvisation is the truest form of comedy, and like that sarcastic member of your friend-circle who controls the conversation, the Imps displayed their gifts. Lines such as “ it's bulletproof glass, not knife-proof” and “those are truth bullets, coming right at you,” bridged the ten-year gap between aspiring and professional Imps, showcasing the positive effects of immense talent and practice. For foreigners or the uninitiated in the audience, the show was a hilarious crash-course in the new era of British comedy.

The talent of the Imps, both current and former, was demonstrated in the astute accomplishment of providing two solid hours of entertainment, a feat yet to be mastered by the professionals of Hollywood (see Anchorman 2, or anything with Seth Rogan). Ivo Graham mastered the art of the Wallflower in laughable soliloquy before Morgan and West's Barnum style magic show and subsequent silent movie showcase. Joseph Morpurgo showed us what really goes on inside the minds of Twitter and Snake, and Robin and Partridge drove the one-liner train for the crowd. In the well-deserved finale, Rachel Parris re-wrote the rules of parody to a background of fire, strip-tease, and laughter.

The performance was half-comedy, half-art, and a full expression of “the human condition” encompassing all the available vanity and arrogance which two dozen comedians could muster (though, as my father said, “it only counts as arrogance if you can't back it up” which the Imps certainly did).

In an era of the suppression of free speech, defenders of the 1st Amendment - or whatever the British equivalent of said right is - can rest assured that all is well. With entertainment value far exceeding the £10 ticket price, the “Heirs of Caesar” proudly carry the torch of humour and speech. The remarkable displays of ingenuity, insanity, and nervous energy exhibited tonight for the powers of good were an honor to observe.

The Oxford Imps perform at the Wheatsheaf every Monday of term time. This show is superb fun. It pays to get in early though. We got the last seats at 7.45pm and the best standing room was quickly taken.

There were some very entertaining, spontaneous sketches. For example, there was a sketch in which a character playing an interviewee had to work out from clues given by other cast members and the audience reaction just what job he was applying for, who was his referee and some secret from his past. (These had been suggested while he was out of the room) In our case he was applying to be a Tyrannosaurus Rex, Michael Jackson was his referee and he had been sacked for stamp collecting on the job.

There were 6/7 sketches involving a cast of about 10. All were great fun.

The Imps will be going on to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe. Good luck to them. I am sure they will be a sell out.
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