NewsRevue 2006:Pirates of the Cabinet
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2006
World Record Holder for Longest Running Live Comedy. Fringe First
Winner. Perrier Finalist. Total sell-out every year.
Newsrevue is the longest running show on the Fringe. According to one enthusiastic flyerer on the Royal Mile, it's the longest running show in the world, which the 54-year-old The Mousetrap might take issue with. Whether it's an overstatement for marketing purposes, or just that this particular flyerer had been working the Mile so long he'd forgotten a world outside of Edinburgh exists, I can't say. What I can say is that Newsrevue is a brilliant show.
It would be easy to criticise Newsrevue for having no ambition. But it's been going for as long as it has because its remit is simple: jokes about big events in the previous year's news. Basically the sort of gags you'd get in Private Eye or on Have I Got News For You, but done as sketches and song parodies. It's not a particularly lofty goal, admittedly, but it's a worthy one and one which the show accomplishes with aplomb.
Newsrevue focuses its satirical ire on politicians and celebrities, who it skewers to great effect. The targets are generally fairly obvious, such Tony Blair, a reforming Take That, John Prescott, Wayne Rooney or religious fundamentalists. But while the targets are the same as ever the approach is different and original. And when a sketch isn't quite enough, we're treated to a satirical song parody with a choreographed dance routine. Sure, not all the cast are natural singers but it's the sharp nature of the lyrics that's really important, and they're certainly not lacking here. There's a brilliant routine involving John Prescott and Blur's Country House I'm sure you can begin to imagine.
What really lifts the show up into truly terrific territory though is in its attempts to satirise not just the contents of the news, but the nature of the news itself. A running theme is how much the news broadcasters and newspapers try to scare us as it makes good entertainment. It's here that the Newsrevue bears its teeth. It's just a shame they didn't make more of this, as it's an area many modern satirical outlets steer clear of.
Newsrevue is a show that knows what it wants to do and does it brilliantly. It's not perfect, but it's close.