Growing in stature and flying the flag for the art of sketch, London Sketchfest is becoming a real centre for bestowing a badge of honor for emerging talent in sketch, with previous winners Daphne and Gein’s Family Gift Shop living up to that success at the Edinburgh Fringe. Here is a brief overview of some of the particular stand-out acts over the two days.
For some reason, rap songs were particularly flavorsome amongst a few of the acts. Not judging on their musical prowess, Two Plus Ones, sketch trio Joshan Chana, Luke Summer and Archie Summer seem to wear their millennial status as a badge of honour, but really know how to satirise it, with exuberant confidence. Rapping with pride about being in their twenties and living at home was excellently self-mocking. Their other sketches had a subtle substance of almost twisted cruelty, demonstrated via a dub step artist using the conversation of his parents dissolving relationship. They also have an edge of originality about them that out of 12 other acts, made them particularly stand out. When they exited the stage, I couldn’t see anyone really topping that performance.
Well, I spoke to soon it appeared as double act Dirty White Boys, Jack Robertson and Chazz Redhead are slick and composed pairing beyond their years. A little American centric for my particular liking, with sketches about a mob boss unaware of his homosexual connotations and a domesticated Dracula whose pedantic wife won’t allow for him to leave the house. But they certainly had the audience in giggles and landed consistently. There was also an air of John Candy to Jack Robertson’s performance, which was a particular highlight.
Amongst the twelve acts, Jerks offered a welcome dose of surrealism and darkness, coming across as an almost League of Gentleman if set in the Cotswold. Even before they hit the stage, they were circling the crowd as a conjoined couple sketches who have decided to separate, although still stuck to each other but one keen to get back on the dating game. Daring to be different can always be a gamble but they pulled it off well. Their sketch about couple seeing the brighter side of the death of their child was pure macabre joy, something I might come to remember for some time. Even when they forget their most vital prop for their last sketch, they still manage to charm themselves into winning the audience than derailing to disaster. Much enjoyed and I can only predict them getting better.
Overall I was surprisingly impressed by the strength of the line-up, with pretty much every act showing dashes of promise, but just lacking that consistency for twenty minutes in their sets. As mentioned, Dirty White Boys took Best New Act, with Two Plus Ones receiving The Audience Choice Award and Jerks Audience Choice runners up.