Rory & Tim Will Never Sell Out

Tue 18th – Sat 22nd October 2011


Tom Edkins

at 00:13 on 19th Oct 2011



An expectant crowd shuffled its way into the Burton Taylor Studio to the sound of Pink Floyd’s ‘Money’. The man sitting next to me turned to his wife and murmured “It’s from ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ – great album” and after an hour of sketches, it was clear that he could have been saying the same thing about ‘Rory and Tim Will Never Sell Out’: like a great album, the show was well constructed, carefully paced, and packed with different elements without ever feeling disjointed. Fresh off the back of a hugely successful Edinburgh show, Rory and Tim are at the top of their game.

Yet even considering their recent successes, Rory and Tim’s latest show is far from a lazy compilation of their greatest hits. They’ve been brave enough to omit some audience favourites (like the wildly popular ‘Clubbing Academy’ sketch) in order to craft a new show that feels like their most coherent to date, with snappy video idents and repeated quips about the show’s budget constraints giving more continuity than we’ve seen previously: Iain’s continual efforts to incorporate clumsy product placement (“much like our show, Ronseal wood sealer does exactly what it says on the tin”) kept the audience giggling consistently, despite its wide age range.

But more than any student sketch show I’ve seen, Rory and Tim showed that they have the material to make sketches work, displaying a real aptitude for finding the right balance between quirky initial ideas and successful execution – no mean feat. Sketch comedy always risks being hit and miss, and whilst some sketches could have done with ending slightly sooner (good punchlines were occasionally wasted because the performers were pushing for just one more laugh) overall the material was excellent – clever, absurd, and, most importantly, it hit the spot with the audience. I was in stitches at Iain’s impression of Alan Sugar as an Oxford tutor, berating his students with bloated claims that “I used to write essays out the back of a van!” In fact, Iain has carved out a great role for himself within the group, rightfully earning some big laughs through his gawky over-enthusiasm and spot on delivery. Clearly all seasoned performers, the trio have real chemistry on stage, and Tim’s wry grin as Rory casually slid along the floor a prop that he’d forgotten showed the confidence that they’ve all gained over the last few months. When you’re enjoying yourself this much on stage it’s infectious, and judging from the number of laughs coming from young and old alike, Rory, Tim, and Iain have really got something special going on here. With a few slack lines tightened up and the newer sketches rehearsed just a little more, Rory and Tim will be selling out every theatre in Oxford, and beyond.


Tom Garton

at 09:28 on 19th Oct 2011



Comedy is about making people laugh. If you’re audience isn’t laughing then you’re doing something wrong.

Luckily for Rory and Tim (and Ian) they make people laugh. How hearty these laughs are though is quite variable. There were points in the show last night when I was genuinely cackling with laughter; at other points, though, I watched stony faced as a sketch didn’t pull off. But this is the nature of comedy. You’re not going to get everyone laughing all the time.

There were some brilliant, inventive sketches last night; a lot better than I’ve ever seen when I’ve watched the Oxford Revue. There were also some great performances which carried the show, but again these varied depending on the sketch. Tim in the “Antisocial” sketch was fantastic. His performance ensured that the sketch got laughs. Ian’s awkward, Gervais-esque entrances were also amusing, and helped to give the show a sense of balance against the very similar Rory and Tim.

It’s also a clever show, with a sense of purpose and unity. The sketches are mostly linked together by the idea of “selling-out” in some shape or form, which, I assume, is supposed to play on the wider irony of the trio not selling out the BT. This irony took on an almost “post-ironic” form last night, as the BT did actually sell out.

However, this ‘cleverness’ is also perhaps the downfall of their show. Rory and Tim have made the same classic error as most student comedians make. They’ve catered too much to the Oxford student vote. I do understand why. After all they’re Oxford students themselves, and their show is being performed in the classic Oxford student venue - the BT. But all their best material - the Alan Sugar sketch, the Man Booker prize sketch, and the Results Day sketch are all a bit too “middle-class”. Obviously, there isn’t anything wrong about middle-class, student humour in an Oxford comedy show; but if the trio really mean to take this seriously, they will have to try and escape their mould and develop sketches which have a wider appeal.


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