With a title that gave the terrifying impression that what was about to follow would be rife with sexism, racism, and smoking in doors, I was relieved to find that there was to be no through-line to the 2013 Med Revue, Med Men.
…relieved for all of about three sketches.
In only slightly worse time than last year (if in marginally better taste) Med Revue supplied what it has always promised to deliver: offense without being funny enough to justify it. By the end of the evening, enough minorities had been marginalised that the show had pretty well made a joke at the expense of an aggregated majority, but not once did the show pick on someone its own size.
I guess they must have expected everyone to leave the theatre all ruckus. Smacking one another on the back, reminiscently laughing about that joke that made domestic violence as normal a thing to find in a kitchen as an artichoke; or that hilarious number that closed the first act in which the broad-smiling medicine man assured us that surgery would stop the transgender community feeling weird; or the equally hilarious number that opened the second act that reminded women, again, about the beautiful merits of cosmetic alteration. None of it was self-aware enough to be funny.
It’s a title and associated attitude that have no place beyond the fifties and sixties – that is, no place beyond history. And repeatedly indulging in the thigh-slappingly hilarious, fundamental inferiority of the disenfranchised is lazy writing, and so tired and dull and stupid that it could only be perpetuated by a show which insists on a completely new cast every year, leaving behind nobody with the authority or talent to say “it’s been done, and it shouldn’t be done again.”
Discrimination notwithstanding, too many of the sketches just didn’t have punchlines and the ones that did climaxed in the middle and dragged on for minutes longer (true of just about every revue, though). By ten thirty, I couldn’t stomach another talking heads sketch between doctor and patient.
Despite all this, the show had its moments. The musical numbers were nicely arranged, with a ragtime retelling of Thrift Shop and a solo interlude on piano both enjoyable. However, having band members in the cast didn’t prove a great idea, not least when it meant that poor Isobel Yeap had to jump from playing trumpet distractedly to desperately trying (and occasionally succeeding) to redeem some of the worse writing in the Juliets with sheer presence. The Gilbert and Sullivan parody was a pleasure, and strongly performed. The yaks were very, very good.
But in all, the men and unfortunate women of Med Men didn’t make medicine funny, they just made comedy sick.