Edinburgh Fringe 2011
A perverse, twisted version of It’s A Wonderful Death – rather than seeing the reasons why you’d want to live, Choose Death! gives us six people on their way out. Rather than talk them down, you might want to kick them through ..
It’s this humble reviewers opinion that there aren’t that many more challenging narrative forms than the sketch show. With a play, you’re allowed some elbow room while you set up the scene. As for stand ups, `if you have enough charisma, most audiences will show some patience before they start demanding that you lay on the punchlines. Even writers of reviews know that they can occasionally fill at least the first paragraph with their own opinions, not necessarily related to the subject at hand, before getting stuck into the review itself.
Sketch comedy allows no such freedom. In sketches, you generally speaking, only have one aim: to get in and out of there in three minutes or less, and be very funny. That’s it, no excuses. Added to that, the genre is generally stuffed to bursting with shouty young boys doing jokes about masturbation. So, the fact that this sketch show is indeed filled with shouty young boys, and they are indeed doing knob gags, and a great many of the sketches are comfortably over the three minute mark – and all feature returning characters – might give us cause for concern. However, the boys earn their stripes, and while there is a fair amount of low brow humour, it’s never indulgent. The main reason for this – and it’s important – seems to be that the company spend as much time, if not more – developing believable characters for us to engage with, as they do on attempting to find a decent punchline.
Added to this, they’re quite happy to look to other sources for inspiration: they’ve clearly pilfered their influences from a multitude of icons from cinema, TV and stage, with all the gleeful abandon of a teenager let loose in an unlocked JD Sports. There’s certainly a line nicked from Silence Of The Lambs, and at one point, a clown appears to be invoking the spirit of James Stewart by way of Vertigo. Certainly, at one point, it all goes a bit Monty Python, in a sequence where a depressive bubble gun seller attempts to sell happiness to a Graham Chapman style bank clerk. However, none of it is derivative, and Choose Death! is strong, original sketch comedy – quite a neat trick to pull off these days.