Campus Review: Rude, Crude And A Bit Funny

CAMPUS: Tuesday 5th April, C4, 10pm

From the makers of Green Wing comes Campus, a comedy about life at the fictional Kirke University, and a programme that looks like it’s probably going to split opinion quite widely.

It’s got Green Wing’s fingerprints all over it, from the way the characters act towards each other down to the way that it feels like a group of related mini-skits that make up the show. But the humour is darker than its predecessor, and it is as likely to make you feel a bit awkward as it is to make you laugh.

One of the central characters is Jonty De Wolfe, vice-chancellor of the university, who is a racist, insensitive, inappropriate idiot who will become an immediate favourite of 15-year-olds (on account of his potty mouth and over-the-top demeanour) and KKK members (for obvious reasons). It’s not quite clear why the ‘soft’ racism is necessary, and some of the moments, such as when Jonty stands on top of the building with a loudspeaker telling all foreign students to “pick up their free mintsâ€? because “they have to talk to English people,â€? just seem a bit gratuitous. There’s a line between poking fun using stereotypes and just being rude, and it’s become rather blurred in Campus.

Then there’s the English Lit lecturer who is a cross between Lord Byron and a sex predator (although some may say that there might not be too much of a distinction there). Fifty per cent of the time he does funny pretty well – telling his TA “Mark I’m as sorry as you are, but if we ignore the rules then all we’re left with is anarchyâ€? as he’s shooting rubber arrows at a target painted on the guy’s chest is particularly good – but the other fifty per cent he’s leering over any woman near him like some kind of hideous, dystopic poster boy for sex pests.

There are more uses of the word ‘Vagina’ than there would be in a box full of sex education videos presented by Russell Brand, although – in fairness – there’s also fewer clever colloquialisms than you’d get with Brand that might have helped to broaden the vocabulary a bit.

The fact that Campus works at all is a testament to the bizarre world it creates; a world where being a dysfunctional madman (or woman) is totally acceptable, and the sort of behaviour that would get you slammed with a restraining order faster than you can say ‘no means no’ is as normal as catching a bus. Within this surreal environment you find yourself able to make concessions for some of the outlandish behaviour and things the characters say, but overall watching the show seems a little bit like watching a car crash; you want to look away, but can’t. It’s a patchy start for the new comedy, but there’s plenty of good stuff mixed in with the bad that gives you reason to believe it’ll only get better.