Edinburgh Fringe 2011
Energetic sketch comedy with mild political overtones from a trio of bouncy young actors from London.
The sketch comedy scene seems to be currently dominated by rather identikit, bearded young men, all full-on and eager to please. It was hard, therefore, to suppress a groan when the three young men that comprise Politically Erect leapt onto the stage clad in matching white breeks and shirts, complete with enough bling to send an airport security scanner into meltdown. And two of them sported beards. I wondered whether this was going to be a long hour.
But the first sketch, a parody on the ubiquitous game show that haunts so many TV schedules, showed originality. The contestants were asylum seekers competing for the solitary British passport available to the winner – a nice take on Cameron’s recently announced crackdown on immigration. They finished strongly as well with a dig at banks and bankers, de rigueur for almost all sketch shows these days, which then cleverly morphed into an expose of the needlessly complex jargon prevalent in business and society.
Their material is aimed squarely at people like themselves : twenty something year olds, slightly disillusioned about politics in Britain and life in general. And with the audience being mostly in that age range, there was a good buzz in this crowded venue close to the Fringe Central Office. There’s a fair degree of surrealism and absurdist material and some of it is just plain silly – nothing wrong with that and it certainly got the young couple sitting across the aisle from me laughing and giggling. Most of the characters were well delivered and the trio weren’t afraid to go off piste on the few occasions when audience reaction or something that had happened on stage demanded it.
But some of the sketches and life lessons that padded out the rest of this (admittedly free) hour were rather lacking in substance with the cast finding them funnier than evidenced by the audience. As I wandered into this show I was reading The Mustard, which has an interview with John Lloyd, that doyen of producers. One of his key messages is that less often yields more – taking 15% out of a script can often make it 30% better for those watching. Politically Erect, in addition to considering a change of name to something slightly more subtle, might like to grab a copy.