The coming of a New Year’s On the Rocks can bring with it a host of new events, with more theatre, art and music than you could shake a stick at –but a guaranteed staple has always been the Blind Mirth Sketch Show. Typically, an improv comedy group, once a year during OTR, Blind Mirth turns their talents to sketch comedy writing, bringing their wit to the masses on the Byre main stage. This year’s production, Mirth Control, while funny, lacked some of the charm of previous shows, occasionally over using tired tropes that seemed more suited to the 1970s.
On the positive side of things – there were a number of strong moments in the show. Sketches about caveman dragon’s den and exorcism being particular stand outs, playing to the troupe’s offbeat sense of humour. Blind Mirth has always been one of the (if not the) greatest collection of performers within St Andrews, and as such could probably make reading the phone book hilarious. The most notable performer this year had to be Harrison Roberts, whose deadpan conviction was comedic gold, but as always, all members of the troupe gave strong performances.
This said, as was perhaps more clear this year than in previous iterations, their skill lies first and foremost in improv. While the show’s writing was on the whole funny, the use of “Nazis” as a repeated punchline to a number of otherwise unconnected sketches felt slightly out of place. In and of themselves the sketches were fine, but as part of the larger show they felt somewhat dated. Indeed, until the closing Les Mis parody, Mirth Control felt somewhat top loaded, with the strongest moments coming early on, letting the second half somewhat drag.
All of this meant that Mirth Control felt more reminiscent in tone to Blind Mirth’s annual XXX show, even if somewhat watered down. This is certainly not a bad thing in and of itself, as the XXX show is usually a guaranteed laugh, but the translation of this to the Byre Stage felt somewhat muddled. Despite having a number of great sketches, this meant that, overall, Mirth Control, while still a good laugh, was weaker compared to their other stand out performances throughout the years.