Before I came to university, I must say that I associated comedy with middle-aged men on Live At The Apollo making jokes about their wives or the endless stream of panel shows which the BBC provides. But upon arriving here, my eyes have truly been opened to the many diverse forms of comedy there are and it really amazes me the situations and set-ups in which it can be accomplished as well as the talent and confidence it requires.
Personally, the thought of performing and creating comedy terrifies me as it, for the most part, depends on a reaction from the audience and producing material which would facilitate that reaction. What if nobody laughs in the sketch when they’re meant to? What do you say during a stand-up routine when the material does not work? What if you just cannot think of anything funny to say that day? All questions I would ask myself. Thankfully it is not down to me to provide the comedy in this town so I turned my attention to the vibrant and creative comedic scene St Andrews is lucky to have.
Firstly, there is The St Andrews Comedy Society which are a society dedicated to making sure that all genres and performances are comedy are readily accessible to the student population. They have run improv workshops, Sandy’s Sundown Stand-up, comedy panels, writer’s rooms, Sketch Force One and even have their own newspaper called Salvator News. They absolutely have something for everyone and ensure that anyone who might want to can get involved and learn from their workshops the processes of creating comedy.
Another group of comedy facilitators in St Andrew the improv comedy group ‘Blind Mirth’ who do an improvised show every Monday in the Barron Theatre at 8pm. With a fresh and original show created onstage each week before the audience’s eyes, I asked them about their process as they have no scripted material and they said that they rehearse improv games twice a week. They added that they go into each skit with ‘gumption and the general intention of being funny. Sometimes we even succeed.’. For some reason I always expected creating comedy for students to be harder however Blind Mirth explained that due to the ‘collective sense of humour’ of both the group and audience – as they are both made up of students – it is not as hard as you might expect. They did point out, though, that if a parent joins the audience then ‘that’s another story’. I found this really interesting as it shows that different types of humour are perhaps more generational than I thought and that a universal sense of humour is much more of a concept than a reality. Finally, I asked them what their motto as a group was, to which they responded ‘we just want to have fun’ and I believe that this encapsulates what student comedy, and indeed comedy overall, should mean which is that it all revolves around watching people have fun and this will inevitably be transferred to the audience.
The St Andrews Revue is St Andrews’ oldest sketch comedy group who put on three shows a year, including Straightback Mountain in the Barron Theatre on 5th March at 7 pm and their upcoming performance in the Byre Theatre during On The Rocks. Furthermore they put on a show for the full run of Edinburgh Fringe during August. Their shows are made up of a series of sketches that loosely follow the title of their show. They explained their writing process in that they each go away and come up with the first draft of the sketch themselves before presenting it to the group and workshopping. Previously they had tried to creative a narrative in their show however as the size of the group increased, it made it harder to have so many people trying to pitch their ideas at the same time therefore this process ensures that everyone gets to present their ideas and be involved in the writing process. Similar to Blind Mirth they said that creating comedy for students is the ‘easiest part of what we do’ as due to the fact they know some of the audience and they have a ‘fairly diverse group in terms of senses of humour’ which therefore means the range of comedy in the sketches will be diverse and accommodates every sense of humour. They contrasted performing in St Andrews to at the Edinburgh Fringe where at times it is harder to make the audience laugh with material written by/for students. Finally, they described their motto which is that rather than trying to create material for other people, create material which makes themselves laugh, thus enforcing the idea that so much of the creation process revolves around the comedians themselves having fun. They generally summarised their outlook with ‘Live, Laugh, Love’ – although I’m still unsure how serious this slogan was.
Overall, I think this demonstrates the rich and varied content on offer to the students of St Andrews with three very talented groups entirely dedicated to providing original and refreshing comedy in very different ways and I strongly recommend that we support them all.