It’s hard to attend a comedy night now without seeing a little video clip thrown in to break up all that standing around, talking into microphones malarkey. It’s a trend that’s gone from being a part of nights like Knock2Bag to, in the case of Adam Buxton’s Bug nights, the crux of the show. But new night Raybot, from the people who bought you The Fix, has done away with the stand-ups and placed the emphasis entirely on video content. This means we get a lot of acts crammed into the evening but bizarrely only two actually taking to the stage.
Opening with a song courtesy of keytar-toting Brett Domino and his comedy partner Steven Peavis (together, The Brett Domino Trio) we get a video of the pair performing a medley of Ibiza club hits at the Ministry of Sound. As can sometimes be the way with musical comedy virals, it’s clever if not uproariously funny but a nice start to the show.
The night’s first video-MC (?) Rich Fulcher then makes an appearance on-screen to introduce the next few sketches, one of which, featuring a couple of walking, talking, living dolls, is fantastic. American comic Dave Hill also appears in the first of his two-part match.com advertisements. They’re suitably left-field and his act brings to mind the alternative, off-kilter style of Zach Galifianakis back in his stand-up days.
Ben Target is our second video MC of the evening. He uses his brief on-screen time to lambast show mastermind Harry Deansway, even taking his gripes to the St Paul’s protestors. Both Target and Fulcher come over well in their vignettes but it’s an odd feeling to see comedy MCs who aren’t riffing off the crowd or concocting elaborate methods of clapping on acts.
The first section of the evening is wrapped up with Robert Popper and Alice Lowe starring in a Public Access TV-style relationship show. It’s typically stupefying stuff from the pair, but their weird and wonderful character interplay oddly fails to whip up the audience in the way some of the night’s earlier ‘acts’ did.
Part two brings about a bit of a change as actual real-life comedian, Trevor Lock, takes to the stage. Lock is here to introduce another selection of videos based on past Fix night Star Search. A precursor to the likes of The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent, Star Search unearthed treasures ranging from a brother-sister street dance troupe to a man who painted genitalia in his spare time. The segment was marred by several technical issues before one of Star Search’s biggest finds, the comedian and magician Ray Presto, made an unscheduled appearance. Presto possesses roughly as many magic tricks as he does jokes (about three each) but despite their ‘lo-fi’ quality (or maybe just ‘low’ quality), it’s all done with such a showbiz smile and twinkle in the eye that it’s hard not to enjoy his performance.
The final third of the show moves firmly back into video territory, including one from US surrealist Kurt Braunohler doing an utterly daft educational video on seahorses. ‘Headlining’ is a short film written by and starring Tim Key and Tom Basden. It’s the strongest video of the night and highlights them as two of the country’s most imaginative comedy writers and performers – a good fit for such a forward-looking comedy night.
The show ends as it started, with a song, this time from controversial tunesmith Kunt and The Gang. His rather different take on Katy Perry’s ‘I Kissed A Girl’ attracts a lot more squirms than laughs but if you call yourself Kunt and the Gang that was probably the point.
Live comedy can always do with the odd shot in the arm and a night with few, if any, live acts performing, is certainly going to do that. There were admittedly some gulfs between the quality of various clips but if Raybot continues to keep the exclusive content coming, audiences will no doubt be drawn to its unique and innovative style. And if nothing else, it’s certainly going to make heckling a dying art form.
Originally published at Spoonfed.co.uk