In conversation with: The Durham Revue (Part One)

From left to right: Tristan Robinson, Lily Edwards, Rosie Minnit, Hamish Lloyd Barnes, Lydia, Luke, Charlie

At 9am on a Wednesday morning, the Bubble met with Luke Maskell (president of the Durham Revue), Tom Poon (technical director) and Hamish Lloyd-Barnes (future president of the Durham Revue) to discuss the exciting new project with Jeremy Vine, competition against Oxbridge comedy, plans for the Edinburgh Fringe, as well as the future in The Durham Revue and how it’s on an “ever-upwards turn”.

Bubble (B): So tell us about the Jeremy Vine show, working with him and how it came about.

Luke Maskell (LM):   It’s just something I’ve been organising quietly in the background, really, with Experience Durham. It’s less the Jeremy Vine show, more just engaging with the old-school alumni, which we have been doing more and more in the last few years. Alex McQueen is really good at coming back and talking to us all at Durham. So we just want to use relationships like that to flesh it out. We’re planning a show in London where the old, old boys and girls can come back and do their sketches from thirty odd years ago. What they did back then was so different (they had a band!), they were called DUST? A lot has changed. I’ve accidently become a bit of an archivist with Poon.

From left to right: Tom Poon (Technical Manager), Charlie Frederick Billingham, Lydia Cook, Lily Edwards, Alex MacQueen (alumni), Luke Maskell (President), Hamish Lloyd-Barnes (President 2018/19).

B: Are you hoping to understand where they’ve got to then, since they left the Revue?

LM: I guess the closer you get to graduation, the more interested you are in where other people have gone after graduation. It’s a nice opportunity for us, as it’s interesting to talk to people about their roots, especially when you want to go into the industry.

B: Would you say their comedy is still funny? Have you read any of their sketches?

LM: The comedy is going well for the more recent ex-members of the Revue. People like Nish Kumar and Ed Gamble, they’re doing really well. We’re quite good at keeping in contact with them, as they only left around ten years ago – their names are in the Assembly Rooms, still, so it’s easier to get hold of them. We’re trying to get hold of the older ones. Whether they’re funny anymore? We don’t really know – a lot of them don’t do comedy anymore. They’ve gone into journalism, or law. It’s more just about catching up since their time in Durham.

B: So, is it set then? Have you got a definite date?

LM: We’ve got a definite week in June that we’re looking to go for; we haven’t yet booked a venue. There’s a lot waiting on alumni, who haven’t yet got back to us that we really want to be there. Whether we should be telling you about this yet at all I don’t know – just hoping that the person I’m organising this all with won’t be reading this article!

B: So, who’s idea was it originally?

LM: Originally, it was Experience Durham’s actually, for the London Show. They’d wanted to organise it for the last few years, but previous presidents had been way too busy with their work and worried about the shows they already had that year. This year, I just thought – why not? Let’s try and do it!

Tom Poon (TP): I would just like to add that Luke’s going above and beyond to allow the next year’s president to have something to build on. Having to start from scratch when presidents leave is not just a problem in the Revue, but in societies across Durham and this is something we are trying to do. Reaching out to alumni means we can understand our foundations and people next year can learn from us too, making a continuous community.

B: Is it something you want to be recurrent? Are you thinking of doing it every year or?

LM: Yeah, maybe not every year – I think it’s probably going to work out quite expensive. Maybe every three years, that’d be quite cool, as it’s the average degree length and allows for a handover. It should also just be a nice event for the alumni, a ‘Revue-nian’ I might call it.

B: What about the documentary?

LM: Oh god, yes, so this is a ridiculous idea on my part. So, as we were trying to get in contact with all the alumni, they were all just coming out of the woodwork, like the Lord Justice of, I don’t know, Britain – the guy who’s top dog in law – went to Durham and was in The Revue, as well as DST. I just thought: there’s got to be interesting stories – I mean, the Bishop of Worcester was in the Revue! I thought, we’ve got to interview some of these people!

B: So, what’s the plan?

LM: I want to interview these guys for a couple of minutes a pop, just about their time in the Revue at Durham, and maybe a quick question at the end, because it’d be difficult to ignore like, a bishop! But the university have said they’d be willing to pay for us to go back and forth to London to film it. And there’s a guy that graduated last year from Collingwood who’s set up his own business – we’re trying to get in contact with people like him to let it happen. We want to sort of time-track it, go back as far as we can go, and see how much it’s changed.

TP: Yes, like work to understand when it properly started and what began when. Uniforms, for example, when did braces begin? When did it become cool? Was it an inside joke that just caught on?

LM: yeah, I want to know if there’s alumni from like 20 years ago laughing at how it’s been taken on, or at the fact we have transition music, or things like that.

B: Is it going to be set out like a timeline?

LM: Yes, but I don’t want it to be dry. To be honest, if it turns out to be incredibly boring, we’ll probably sack it off to be honest – but it’s going to be fun seeing how it all turns out.

TP: To be fair, there’s lots of statement names, like Jeremy Vine, Nish Kumar, Ed Gamble, and we use those names, we market those names at the Fringe, as we can say they come from us and everyone knows their work. But I think it’d be nice to find a little bit about the lesser known names as well, showcase their lives and work and broadcast the smaller stories. A documentary is a really good pull – alumni can hear about each other’s successes and share everything with not only each other, but with current students too.

LM: Whether it will be really interesting to people is another matter – but we’re really excited to find out. I mean, I hadn’t even heard of the Revue at Durham before I came here, but of course I’d heard of the Footlights. When you think of the Footlights you think of Monty Python, and when you think of Durham, you don’t think ‘OH! Victoria Sandwich, holding presidency from 2016’, you know? I’m really excited to build our own…

TP: Brand?

LM: Yeah, that’s the one. We want more people to know about Durham’s successes. Everyone knows about the success stories from the Footlights. We want more people to know about successes from the Revue – because there have been a lot.

Find Part Two here.

Durham Revue:

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