Fans of sketch comedy emerged at the Isabella Bader Theatre Friday night to witness the 143rd annual Bob Revue, “The Bob: With David Schwimmer?”
Every year, Canada’s oldest collegiate sketch comedy show hits the stage for a night of humour, satire, and absurdity, performed and directed entirely by U of T students. The Varsity spoke with this year’s co-directors Greg Martin and Blaire Golledge about their show’s history, style, and the David Schwimmer-ness of it all.
The Varsity: Can you give our readers a bit of the history behind The Bob Revue?
Greg Martin: The Bob is Canada’s oldest collegiate sketch comedy show. We think it might even be Canada’s oldest sketch comedy show, but we’re not sure, so we don’t say it out loud. “This Hour Has 22 Minutes” is probably older. We’ve had famous alumni like Margaret Atwood and Lester B. Pearson on the cast at various points in our history, so statistically at least one member of this year’s cast will end up writing the first ten pages of a great novel.
Blaire Golledge: Or have an airport named after them.
TV: The annual revue has a history of poking fun at some of the issues and trends on campus for that year. Without spoiling anything, what are some of the facets of U of T life that this year’s Bob Revue plans to satirize?
GM: We’ve actually tried to steer away in recent years from campus in-jokes, in favour of sketches that work by themselves. There’s nothing worse than spending a night not being in on the joke, and we want everybody who comes to the show to enjoy themselves. Some of our sketches focus on the trials and tribulations of being students, and some of them focus more heavily on the implications of time travel and whether it’s appropriate to stereotype evil villains.
BG: We also figure that the best way to get back at U of T is to just not talk about U of T at all.
TV: What do you think is the strength of sketch comedy as opposed to say, single narrative storytelling in a live performance?
GM: I think there are strengths to both of these types of comedy. Sketch comedy allows us to explore a situation that maybe doesn’t warrant an entire narrative to itself, so we can afford to be a little more out there when selecting sketches. Single narrative storytelling requires much more planning and setup but the comedic payoff you can build with a single narrative can often be much bigger and more rewarding.
BG: As well, it seems that sketch comedy is gaining more popularity lately because the current trend in comedy is to be absurd. Absurdity is harder to maintain over a two-hour single narrative storyline. People are more willing to suspend their disbelief for each sketch.
GM: This year’s show is going to feature a mix of the two styles for the first time, and we’re excited to see what a new format can bring to The Bob.
TV: What’s this I hear about David Schwimmer?
GM: David Schwimmer is a fantastic actor and all-around great person. He frequently donates to charity, and has recently picked up alto saxophone again, after a twenty-two year hiatus.
BG: The show this year is called The Bob: With David Schwimmer? So it’s entirely within the realm of possibility that he’ll be at the show. We don’t know! We just hope he’ll be there for us, when the rain starts to pour.