From the beginning of this sketch show from Bristol University’s renowned comedy troupe ‘Bristol Revunions’, it was unclear what level of reality we were operating on. The five talented young cast members were masquerading as ‘Junior Maritime Rangers’ (a fictional cross between boys scouts and sea cadets, except more terrible than either), and the audience were ushered in as their supportive parents. The main premise of the show was that these Junior Maritime Rangers, complete with their own special salutes, distractingly short yellow shorts and individual titles such as ‘Sea Badger’, were undertaking their ‘comedy sketch show badge’.
This classic play within a play paradigm, or in this case sketch show within a sketch show, gave the show an impressively fresh and imaginative backdrop, reinvigorating a tired and very well-trodden comedic genre. It endowed the series of sketches with a note of self-awareness, an opportunity for introspection, and indeed some of the most ingenious moments were when the characters stepped out of their own sketches, and analysed them as Junior Maritime Rangers. As an initially promising sketch fell like a lead balloon, one participating Ranger assured his doubtful colleague: ‘It was great, it subverted expectations – anticomedy at its finest’. Not only were the sketches themselves mocking and subversive, but the act of sketch show writing itself was mocked and subverted.
The sketches were stylistically diverse, from cerebral to surreal to slapstick, and while they were not all uniformly successful or side-splitting, the five stars executed them with likeable aplomb. It was, simply, fabulously funny: a pacy and madcap performance packed with originality, absurdity and some great German accents. Not to be missed.