If I’ve learnt anything from my visit to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, it is that it’s impossible to tire of bad comedy. Bad theatre, bad dance, bad juggling, bad close-up magic - most branches of bad performing arts get boring in large doses, but not bad comedy. In fact, the more bad comedy you see, the more you want to see. You soon find yourself spending every spare minute poring over the Fringe Guide looking for worse and worse shows; something more buttock-clenchingly dreadful than The News Revue or more nail-bitingly ill-conceived than Tempus Fudge-it. Perhaps something by a group of recent Oxbridge graduates, or some improv. It’s almost impossible to go right with improv.
And so it was that I found myself sitting in the front row of Out of Your Mind - a show by a group of Cambridge graduates called The Uncertainty Division. The flyer promised an improvised show based on “the ideas, memories, and thoughts of an audience volunteer”, and from the moment the four men in white coats strode on to the stage carrying plastic crates, I knew I was in for bad comedy of the highest order.
In fact, I have never been so disappointed. It was actually, properly, non-ironically great. Not quite Gary Le Strange great or Flight of the Conchords great but then this is only the group’s third proper show. The plot was well thought out, the characters were spot on and a line about watching the Matrix while wearing stolen pearls was one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard.
The bad comedy junkie in me could barely hide his disappointment, but my inner good-comedy fan went straight on to the web in search of tour dates. Out of Your Mind with The Uncertainty Division is in London, Peterborough and Cambridge between now and October. Enjoy!
Originally published in The Guardian on 26th August, 2003. We are not responsible for the contents of external links.