Tom and Ollie: One and a Half Men

 

One and a Half Men is a difficult show to review because it’s in the unusual situation of having lots of good, and even great, sketches nestled around a poor recurring one. Specifically, that poor sketch is the titular one, a connecting thread of deliberately bad and cheesy sitcom scenes that pops up every second sketch or so. It’s not necessarily bad, in places it’s a great riff on the canned laughter sitcom format, but it’s absolutely the weakest part of the show overall and thus its repeated appearance feels odd. I’m not sure whether it’s there to fill time or if the duo genuinely felt it warranted this amount of stage time. Either way it’s a black mark on an otherwise good sketch comedy show.

What Tom and Ollie are most interested in as comedians is subversion of tropes and formats. That’s something that’s wholly present in the recurring sitcom gag, but the joke wears itself thin too quickly to work as well as the shorter one-off segments do. This is a show that’s jammed with absurd non-sequiturs, there’s one literally every third line or so. A bit will start one way then end entirely another, the sheer comic invention of it is worth the entry price alone. They’re constantly trying, and mostly succeeding, to poke fun at the very notion of joke convention. Even the stuff that doesn’t quite work, doesn’t quite work in a wholly original way. I’d love to see the duo return with a more carefully crafted show that really cuts away the fat, because when One and Half Men is good, it’s really very good.

Ultimately, it’s a show of some misses sandwiched between a solid helping of excellent hits. A difficult one to score but I was charmed enough to feel like they deserve some credit for the effort. Highly recommend giving this one a shot despite the issues.

★★★ (and a half)

Keiran Burnett

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