The Complete History of Comedy (Abridged)

Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor

Reduced Shakespeare Company

Pleasance Courtyard

From 31 July 2014 to 25 August 2014

Rating: ****

Review by Philip Fisher

The Reduced Shakespeare Company made its name by fitting a wildly funny adaptation of the complete canon into an hour. The company has gone on to expand the brand into various other areas of literature and culture with mixed results.

Comedy seems like an obvious fit for them and so it turns out, as a trio delivers 70 minutes filled with laughter to a delighted audience.

The writers, Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor plus friend Dominic Conti, play multiple parts in a history of the form stretching from the caveman to the current day in 13 chapters.

The structure is that of a history which includes everything from Ancient Greece and Shakespeare to Commedia and much more modern exemplars of comedy. Less predictably, their guiding text is Sun Tzu’s The Art of War (don’t ask).

Inevitably with comedy, some of the gags miss their targets but a remarkable proportion manage to tickle a large audience.

Bad taste and double entendres are used wherever possible and it works incredibly well.