Gabe Bishop reviews The Smirths, an On the Rocks performance by St Andrews’ improv comedy group Blind Mirth.


 

Packing the Byre Theatre to near capacity, students and locals alike shuffled to their seats for a big laugh to start their week on a high. Blind Mirth delivered.

A venture from their usual improvisation-style, ‘The Smirths’ presented a series of sketches laced with recurring jokes, unpredictable visual comedy, and tasteful self-awareness. The group lampooned a wide variety of topics, from discount airlines (EasyAir), to the recent Students Association elections, to the intricacies of British biscuit etiquette.

The crowd was lively throughout the performance, responding with great enthusiasm to each of the groups’ sketches. There was a mix of groans and laughs following some of the sketches that relied on a cheesy pun or repeated joke, however a mixture of hit-and-miss skits is to be expected from such a show.

For me there were two sketches that stood out. The first had the rebellious teenage son of a Pixar creative producer pitching gruesome ideas for new Pixar kids’ films on ‘bring your kid to work day’. The crippling of Nemo and slaughter of his siblings at the hands of a bloodthirsty barracuda and the perfect romance cut sadistically short by sudden illness at the start of Up were pitched with intense enthusiasm, and were approved in an attempt to repair the broken relationship between the son and his absent father. This sketch masterfully exposed the horrific underbelly of Pixar’s so-called ‘family movies’.

The second sketch, a two-parter, followed Harry Potter and Professor Dumbledore wandering through Hogwarts, each ending with unexpected visual punchlines. The second Harry-Dumbledore sketch in particular elicited a roar from the crowd that lasted through the scene change when a recurring ‘ham and cheese panini’ punchline somehow snuck into a Mirror of Erised scene. (Trust me, you had to be there.)

The performance ended with an interview sketch called ‘When Art Attacks’ which led into an interpretive dance piece accompanied by St Andrews’ own student acapella group, The Accidentals. Maisha was the centerpiece of their witty reconstruction of ‘Escape (The Piña Colada Song)’, leaving ‘if you like tikka masala’ stuck in my head. The show finished on a cheery note as the whole group took to the stage in dance.

Overall, Blind Mirth’s addictive energy and clever writing left the crowd glowing. Having seen several of the group’s improvisation shows, this was a pleasant demonstration of their versatile sense of humor for the On the Rocks Festival. ‘The Smirths’ ultimately succeeded in providing an amusing, high-spirited cap to the week.

 

 

Gabe Bishop