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Preview: Three Men in a Boot: A Rather Sketchy Show

Amaris Proctor is amused by this show's current, fresh comedy

If your finger isn’t on the pulse of the Oxford comedy scene, this comic extravaganza may be just the thing you need to pull you in. The sketch show, featuring the amusing stylings of the ‘Three Men in a Boot’, the female double-act ‘Shelf’ (who featured in the 2016 London Pride march), and Glenn Moore (of Radio 4’s The Now Show), promises to yield up a piece which is, above all, accessible. Not only will it be live-streamed from the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building, but rather than catering to a specialist niche, this hybrid show simply delivers a good laugh.

What’s on offer is truly a mixed bill, sweeping from Moore’s zinging one-liners, to the structured fun of the Three Men’s Mitchell and Webb style comed, to the freewheeling flair of Shelf. This is a real patchwork piece, a balancing act between the barbs of satire and the lighter witticisms at play. This contrast is encapsulated in one sketch which boldly tackles Neo-Nazism and postcard etiquette in a single breath. The current of political jokes seems easiest to track, perhaps because they are so pointedly ripe in the world’s present state of flux. The presence of Moore, whose voice often presents real news stories on the radio, seems particularly subversive.

The ability to tread such a line is indicative of the cleverness of the brand new material. The creators cite a cornucopia of influences, including Simon Evans, Michael McIntyre, and of course, Rowan Atkinson. Concept takes the lead over characterisation and visual gags, although a projector is present. The sketches celebrate the silliness of unlikely scenarios, including a cheeky one which portrays the first person who attempted to get the Bible published. Unsurprisingly, considering that the Three Men and Moore have between them a wealth of experience in radio, the spoken word is king. Wordplay is a key focal point, one skit especially revelling in the linguistic humour of euphemisms, in its depiction of a wonderfully awkward Valentine’s Day.

Additionally, with sketches entitled ‘Millennial Mastermind’ and swathes of political allusions, the writers clearly know their audience. Although it is itself young and precocious, the piece refuses to be grounded too heavily in the Oxford Bubble. In short, if you need something to defuse the stress of Oxford life, I would highly recommend this accomplished and, frankly, fabulous sketch show.


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