The Human Sketchipede

Sat 2nd – Sat 16th August 2014

reviews

Hannah Blythe

at 10:10 on 12th Aug 2014

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Liverpool University based comedy sketch troupe, Scribble, brought a compilation of their favourite material to the Fringe. The cast decided not to limit their subject matter, and performed against a blank backdrop, dressed simply in black. Unfortunately, the resultant rudderless amalgamation failed to produce many laughs.

Admittedly, creating a successful sketch show is a difficult task. It’s all too easy to fall foul of the old ‘it was funny with my friends in rehearsals, but doesn’t quite work in front of an audience’ trap. As the opening scene fell flat, it became apparent that Scribble had succumbed to this old snare.

The show’s main problems lay in its writing. All too often, punchlines lay embedded within convoluted dialogue. By forcing their audience to search for the jokes, Scribble failed to communication some good ideas. A little reworking might be able to get the laughs rolling. A few simple cuts would have prevented many scenes from rambling past their climax.

On other occasions, though, sketches’ purposes were unclear. One particularly directionless scene involved a conversation between Jesus and Judas. I couldn’t quite work out the point of the dialogue. Things only got more disappointing when, in a transparent rehashing of Monty Python, Jesus asked Judas why he didn’t ‘haggle’ for more pieces of silver when betraying him to the Romans.

That said, the show did provide a few genuinely funny moments. One recurrent piece, involving dancing girls and chat-up lines, exhibited the punchy structure and witty dialogue that a sketch requires. And when Emma Williams and Frances Greenfield took on a song, their comedic timing flourished. Some members of the cast also delivered sharp acting performances. George Trier’s characterisation was consistently believable, comical and entertaining.

It’s fair to say that Scribble’s audience warmed up as the show progressed. Those gathered in the little venue were initially unresponsive, but, as the show wore on, the cast were able to encourage a few more laughs. However, the script needs considerable reworking if The Human Sketchipede is to become a real crowd-pleaser.

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Freya Judd

at 10:21 on 12th Aug 2014

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The Human Sketchipede, produced by comedy ensemble Scribble, promises ‘a unique brand of surreal sketch comedy’. It fulfilled its promises. The hour I spent beneath Chiquito’s Mexican Grill was certainly unique, and more than slightly surreal. What that hour wasn’t, however, was particularly funny.

Sketch shows are extremely hard to pull off well, and kudos to all of the members of ‘Scribble’, who performed their skits with unfailing smiles and enthusiasm. Although much of the acting was off-kilter, some members of the cast were occasionally note-perfect – amongst them Immi Wignall and Dominic Davies.

Moreover, none of the members of ‘Scribble’ seemed anything less than thrilled to be on-stage. That can't have been easy when performing to a slightly cynical Edinburgh audience. Moreover the cast was let down by the quality of the writing. The mere name ‘The Human Sketchipede’ filled me with trepidation, but any audience member fearing blood and guts will be sadly disappointed.

There wasn’t much that linked all the sketches together, apart from a slight air of desperation. The repeated riff on a man who tried to propose only to be drowned out by a mysteriously-reappearing saxophonist could have been funny, had the acting been less haphazard and the writing slightly more adept.

The need for fine-tuning was something that occurred again and again throughout the performance. A Lord of the Rings sketch started off extremely promisingly, but failed to maintain either wit or momentum, and tailed off towards the end. Similarly, I found the dark spin on the attitudes of children towards their babysitters extremely promising: but the sketch went on for just long enough to not be funny. Other moments were awful from the get-go, including a parody of a news panel show that couldn’t even raise a tiny smirk.

Had the members of ‘Scribble’ sat down and considered their sketches a bit more, or even decided to follow the wise practice of leaving punch-lines to the very end of a skit, the hour would have passed far more comfortably. As it was, I found myself cringing for a selection of fairly good actors, who let themselves down with their content.

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