Edinburgh Fringe 2011
Very, very quick sketch show from stand-up veterans doesn’t disappoint. Antopolski, Craine and Luurtsema aim for the belly laugh and keep the silly very much alive at this year’s fringe.
Wow, Jigsaw is fast. This show must contain the highest sketch-to-minute ratio at the Fringe this year. The three performers often leave less than a second for their audience to laugh, gasp or even breathe before the next sketch comes rolling in. A distinct style was more difficult to uncover, since they tend to be over before you’ve blinked. The sketches have a very Antopolski feel about them, a seriously intense silliness. Antopolski himself plays the fool pretty relentlessly, with confidence. He knows what’s funny, and we are expected to follow. In what seemed to be an off the cuff remark, Antopolski mused on him having his own TV sketch show. I wouldn’t object.
Tom Craine and his wide-eyed, innocent-looking face play a large part in the construction of the jokes in Jigsaw. He usually plays low-status characters, including the patient who’s receiving some bad news in increasingly ridiculous situations.
Nat Luurtsema was a breath of fresh air, taking on a very dead-pan persona in amongst the silliness. She sometimes serves as the straight man, but more often she turns the sketch around in a very powerful, matter-of-fact manner. After one of the more excessively silly sketches, she turns to the front row and says: ‘I HAVE got a degree, you know.’ Deconstructions such as these only underline the ridiculousness of the show. The how and why are never questioned, as the three performers bludgeon the crowd with their material.
And the material certainly doesn’t disappoint. Jigsaw is as effective and relentless in their construction of sketches as Jimmy Carr is in his gags, but where Carr uses offensiveness to get to the laugh as quickly as he can, Jigsaw uses inappropriateness, in every form conceivable. The characters, their objectives, location and relationship are established in seconds, then break down shortly after because one of the established narrational devices becomes unsteady. Then a laugh, and the performers disappear behind the black screen, ready for a brand new sketch to develop in the same way. The content, however, is different enough each time to have it remain interesting.
There was a dip around 1/3 of the way in, when the audience was clearly adjusting to the relentlessness of the show. The rapturous applause all previous sketches received was toned down, and the performers also changed their pace, accommodating the audience.
Jigsaw, whilst not being the best sketch show I’ve ever seen, shows a confident and exciting mastery of the form. While the sheer pace of it will get you going, not all the sketches are of the same high quality (obviously). But Jigsaw does contain some of the best belly laughs at this year’s fringe. See it when you think you’d had enough of sketch comedy- trust me, you haven’t.