Staple/face are a distressingly fresh-faced sketch trio from Sheffield who bagged the 2013 Fosters ‘So You Think That’s Funny’ award for best new sketch act. Hugh Laurie once said that sketching is a young man’s game, but it can sometimes be tough for those of tender years as well. Energy is no problem, but gravitas may well be. Of course, there are a glut of stand ups in their early twenties, but we only have to believe that they are them.
For the most part Staple/face equip themselves admirably as we all sweat to death in intimate surroundings somewhere in the belly of the Gilded Balloon. It’s high-tempo stuff from the outset, a noisy and funny opener loosens up the crowd and they throw themselves into the rest of the sketches with likable enthusiasm and sharp chatter. There are some great ideas here, proper punchlines such as the genesis of Just William. It feels pretty old school for the most part, and they wear their influences on their sleeves (There are traces of Beyond the Fringe, Rowan Atkinson, Fry and Laurie and even the Goodies). Sam Nicoresti in particular shines, the most natural character actor of the three. A croaky voice only adds authenticity to a Bernard Chumley meets Boris Johnson persona he revisits often.
It does feel a little stretched. We revisit two of the characters on three occasions, and they’re not strong enough to warrant that. One, a Mr Bean style mime is charismatically performed but a well-trodden premise, while a broken up monologue by a child detective probably reads much better on paper – there are nice lines but they get buried. All three are guilty of mumbling their lines slightly at times as well.
All in all Staple/face demonstrate genuine promise, infectious energy and some very clever and sharp writing. One to watch.