Live Review: Sketch Off! Final 2017, Leicester Square Theatre

First of all a pre-emptive apology. When you see eight sketch groups in one show it is inevitable that some of the material overlaps. It is also inevitable that some of the performers – mostly in their twenties and casually dressed – start to blur together. So apologies if anything here refers to the wrong act. The other issue that contributed to this problem was that sometimes I was too busy laughing to take notes. I’m not a big fan of sketch comedy but it seems in pretty good health judging by the second year of this competition.

In the traditionally tough spot of opening the show was black clad Barry & Sian, who kicked things into gear with a send up of art appreciation in a wordy skit that made the late Brian Sewell sound like Lee Nelson. One could sort of see the pay-off coming but it was still extremely well-delivered and a couple more quickfire set-ups in their 10-minute slot showed that they had plenty of potential. If there was a fault it was that they felt like actors rather than comedians (Sian had something of Olivia Colman about her). But good actors, so that’s hardly much of a quibble. 

They were followed by male duo Love Hard, whose spot continued the actor-y theme, being a short haunted house drama - although supposedly being broadcast on TV (“ITV2 + 1 - ITV3”) there was scope for some commercial break comedy too. There was certainly plenty of skill on display, it just didn’t quite grab me. At its best it was too redolent of Pajama Men and at its weakest it felt like a sub-Rocky Horror Show student production. Not without laughs but on a strong night not really in contention for first place.

Third act Crizards – another twosome – started by cracking a gag about appearing in Sketch Off! for a second time, which again made me think of how sketch groups can blur together. I was at the final last year and had no recollection of them. But it turned out that they didn’t make the final last year. They justified their appearance this year with a very clever, very wry, very well performed send up of sketch comedy as they searched in vain for different personalities to make them a better act while still remembering to perform their “signature sketch” - a bit like a chef’s signature dish, they explained. A smart finish and some swiftly established running gags also helped to justify their third place. 

Final act of the first half, Jasper La Plage, was a bit of a curveball. I wouldn't call this sketch comedy, it was really character comedy as spoof new technology CEO La Plage presented a Ted Talk-type of speech about his latest revolutionary device, which was basically a magnifying glass. The comedy came from the idea combined with La Plage’s ‘Allo ‘Allo-ish language eccentricities, getting his sentences slightly wrong – “without further adon’t”. It was a funny, fairly original act, but lacked the impact and energy of others on the night. 

Review continues here.

Hello! Thanks for reading all the way down. I wish I could give you a prize. But BTJ needs your support to continue - if you would like to help to keep the site going, please consider donating.

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.