Manners is simply put an excellent sketch comedy show. One of the oddities of reviewing something good is that sometimes it leaves you with very little to say. This is macabre, grim sketch comedy done right and that’s essentially the bottom line, right up here near the top one.
While we’re here though, Dirty White Boys a sketch duo in the vein of 100 dozen other sketch duos at the Fringe, and on TV, except they do it better than most. At their best they put me in mind of highlights from shows like Burnistoun and That Mitchell and Webb Look. They’ve got a similar knack for the absurd, whether that be in a situation that’s just inherently silly, like the brilliant opener to Manners, which is a fantastic take on the classic “guy who is obviously a spy but nobody seems to notice that he’s a spy” scenario; or in injecting absurdity into an otherwise mundane occurrence, like their recurring bit about an obsessive Sky employee.
What really makes Manners work is that the pair are phenomenal impressionists both, running through a huge range of voices and mannerisms to sell each sketch. It’s impressive on a more micro level as well, with genuinely hilarious turns of phrase populating the majority of the scenes. They’ve clearly buffed the script to a brilliant sheen over many iterations, or at least it seems that way.
While an excellent show, it’s held short of true greatness by some slower moments and a couple recurring bits sacrificing humour up top to get a better payoff later, and I’m not totally sold on the payoffs being quite worth that sort of weighting. In general, I think the show is quite top-heavy in the sense that the best comic ideas are all front-loaded to the first half, but the latter portion is still quality.
Manners is a must-see for fans of sketch comedy. It’s the sort of show that feels like it was written specifically for my sort of taste and I’m eager to see what Dirty White Boys do next. One of those acts that dearly deserves a spot on TV to really bring their work to life.