Minor Delays

Fri 1st – Mon 25th August 2014


Alex Woolley

at 18:21 on 16th Aug 2014



Sometimes at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, you see so much comedy that is half-baked, insufficiently thought through, and frankly boring, that you begin to despair. Minor Delays is a real relief from that sort of tosh. The trio of performers behind this sketch show have the audience in stitches throughout, and the consistency of the quality of their gags is very impressive – not a single joke falls flat. Somehow, they also manage to convince a violinist and a cellist to play incidental music between their sketches.

The trio comprises Harry Michell (the ginger man), Joe Barnes (the not-ginger man), and Abi Tedder (the woman, as the name implies). Michell was president of the Cambridge Footlights last year, and Tedder was their president back in 2009-2010. Barnes, on the other hand, used to be president of the Leeds Tealights. Such a prestigious background might in itself make it worth taking a chance on this show – thankfully, however, the group do not rest on their laurels, and their production is inventive, well-paced, and not to be missed.

The show has Barnes, Michell, and Tedder perform in a line, with little more movement than standing up and sitting down from their chairs. Despite such blocking, all the acting comes across as realistically and believably as you could want from a sketch show.

The sketches themselves, as well as being reliably hilarious, are nicely varied, ranging from the historical (Michelangelo argues with the management of the Sistine Chapel), through middle-class problems (a nicely turned-out couple chat to Racist Mike at a party), to the downright bonkers (a hit-man confuses his lists – I shan’t reveal which lists). The returning sketch in which a teacher does battle with a precocious seven-year-old is particularly strong, and the trio’s ability to ramp up the humour of what is essentially the same joke repeated several times is to be commended.

Minor Delays is an excellent production. It would be a great surprise if Barnes, Michell, and Tedder turn out not to have great careers ahead of them. Only one criticism can be maintained against this show – it is just forty minutes long! We want more!


Jeremy Barclay

at 18:27 on 16th Aug 2014



Sketch trio Minor Delays put together a well-paced and snappy collection of sketches, punctuated by a live string section that serves to emphasise the dark edge of their performances. The trio come with a strong pedigree, hailing from big-name University sketch groups Cambridge Footlights and Leeds Tealights. This shines through in their writing which marries a youthful silliness with a kind of knowingly pretentious slant that seems to be aiming at the intelligentsia, rather than for them.

The Trio (Abi Tedder, Harry Michell, and Joe Barnes) play consistently classic British awkwardness, which is amplified by the unusual format of the show; the three of them delivering their quick-fire dialogue directly above the audience, never meeting eyes with one another. While this immediately seems unusual for a sketch show built upon the rapid interactions of its characters, the fresh format quickly becomes familiar and even ideal as the beautifully composed expressions of each performer enhance every punchline.

Minor Delays maintain a consistency of quality with each of their sketches that defies the ‘hit-and-miss’ nature of sketch comedy. This can probably be attributed to the sheer range of their material, which bounced from the odd penis joke to in-jokes on Plato’s ‘Republic’. The trio build a lot of their sketches around the ‘twist’ ending in the M. Night. Shyamalan fashion, which at times falls a little flat, letting a mediocre sketch pass through the net by virtue of a contrived or cheesy twist. At times I question the necessity of the string section, which despite setting the atmosphere nicely, never makes the show feel particularly musical.

Special mention goes to Harry Michell’s hilariously deranged performance that cut through the carefully constructed awkwardness of the sketches. This is not to say that Tedder and Barnes were lacking in comparison – they played their characters with sensitivity and versatility, switching instantly from between characters with bombastic energy.

The chemistry among the three performers is undeniable, each of them visibly holding back their own laughter at some of the funnier sketches of the others. This should not be mistaken for a lack of professionalism: the trio are slick and well-rehearsed, delivering each sketch with surgical timing.

The incredible response this show has already received should not be met with any cynicism. It is a near flawless and intelligent show, with a delightfully fresh approach to sketch comedy, deftly avoiding the pitfalls that so many shows like it inevitably stumble into.


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