Tyrannosaurus Sketch

Fri 5th – Sat 27th August 2016


Richard Birch

at 22:23 on 11th Aug 2016



Nottingham University’s student-led theatre here presents an often (if not entirely) successful sketch show. Each sketch offers something separate from the others, while also forming a coherent, sustained comedic approach. It is ambitious and well-performed – however, some of the sketches lack the same comedic power as the others. Some are simply not as funny; while others ultimately suffer from being excessively derivative.

Of the latter category, one sketch uses the ‘coma’ comic device – already frankly a bit of a cliché. References to will.i.am dying and thus becoming will.i.was fall flat owing to their obviousness. Likewise, an impersonation of Michael McIntyre is, to be fair, reliably funny; but in this setting, it does smell slightly of cheap laughs.

However, this is to start with the worse sketches when there are many to praise. Indeed, some are brilliantly original, and here their consistently high quality execution make these laugh-out-loud excellent. For one, a sketch centring around the comedy of the bizarre moves made by chess pieces doesn’t sound a likely candidate for a comic triumph; yet combining the heady reference to the ancient board game and the slapstick of the bishops moving in diagonal hops, provides a surreal highlight of the show. Likewise, a jealous ‘Bag for Life’ that then gets jealous of the ‘plastic bag skank’ her husband brings home is simply fantastic, the acting so vociferous as to bring out every last laugh of the audience.

An extended sketch relating to superheroes is a mixed bag – one is the aforementioned ‘coma’ skit, another is a dubious (almost racist, until a clarifying joke is made later on) pun on a Black Hulk and the final is ‘Irony Man’. Thus becoming a bizarre alternative Avengers, the finale is a grand intertwining of many of the other sketches. Though seeming perhaps excessively complex on paper, its successful execution in reality makes it all the more admirable.

In short, 'Tyrannosaurus Sketch' is flawed, but still extremely enjoyable, and with a lot of potential for future success.


Jessica Cripps

at 01:38 on 12th Aug 2016



Dinosaur puns can be pteroble, potentially making any innocently-named sketch show a devastating tyrannosaurus wreck from the get go. Luckily, the punchy Nottingham New Theatre team inject the student spirit into the Fringe and dinoscore, with the audience raptor round their finger in puns and wordplay.

Regardless of set, props, budget and lighting, when it comes to sketch shows, there are two definitive requisites for it to go well: uncomplicated puns, and a feisty cast prepared to pack a punch. This six man cast does not disappoint, balancing their own fun with an eagerness to laugh at the absurdities of their sketches.

The sketches are fun and plucky, pulling us from the depths of hell to planetary heights. Childhood TV favourites make a fleeting comeback, and even some well-known comedic faces might skip across the stage.

The performances are strongest, however, when director Jamie Drew relies on simple puns and ideas to form the sketch. Pointing out the idiocy of chess rules by having your pawn jump around on stage unable to attack the knight because “he’s standing right in front of me” is stupidly funny. Similarly, the gently-paced reveal of the ‘Bag for Life’ wife and her reaction to a 5p plastic bag is hilarious in its simplicity. Props and costumes are used to total comedic advantage, and never once clutter a performance with unnecessary detail. Staying concise, executing the joke with minimal baggage and getting that well-earned laugh is clearly well rehearsed with these guys. The other sketches, while not as strong, are silly, and neatly connect some of the stories. The conclusion shrewdly rounds off the show on a high.

What needs to be reconsidered is the appropriateness of joking on racial issues, something to which the audience responds uncomfortably. It would be easy for someone to misinterpret this humour, even with the entirely appropriate correction in the final scene. Perhaps a more concrete clarification should be made with the first ‘Bulk’ joke, just to avoid any awkward issues arising.

Overall, the sketches prove to be a funny and lighthearted splash of silly in an otherwise philosophical Fringe: a dino-mite way to spend an evening.


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