The Leeds Tealights: Discuss

Wed 12th – Sat 29th August 2015


Hannah Matthews

at 10:45 on 18th Aug 2015



When presented with an afternoon of sketch comedy, I did not expect to exit having been thoroughly convinced by the five members of the Leeds Tealights that unicorns did, at one time, exist. The Tealights’ sketches demonstrated their ability to display something so true it was funny and something so funny you began to wish it was true.

Beginning in the all too familiar exam-hall scenario, the five very talented performers took the audience through a series of sketches based on traditional exam topics. This provided an entertaining way to cohesively link the topics that many sketch shows lack. While having one member fall into the alternate universe of ‘below the stage’ might be borderline ridiculous, they also convinced me that unicorns are extinct rather than non-existent and so I’m prepared to accept ridiculous – particularly when its ridiculously entertaining.

Of particular hilarity were sketches about the Duke of Edinburgh award – an explanation for the existence of all 16 year olds nightmares, about the aforementioned unicornsm, and about a drama workshop being held at the UN. Other sketches, including spinoffs of Roald Dahl novels, had the foundations of a very entertaining few of minutes, but needed to be slightly more refined.

While I enjoyed many of the shorter ‘filler’ scenes, including classically childish toilet humour, some of the longer more purposeful scenes felt more like we were waiting for the real comedy to begin. Jokes about the BNP were slightly off point and lacked the amusement that satirising political parties can often bring.

That said, as the show gathered momentum, so did the audience’s laughter. All that was missing in these earlier scenes was a greater emphasis on the punchline, which, in the opening sketch about World War One went slightly over the audience’s heads, as we were still laughing at the build-up.

A special mention should go to Hugh Coles, whose ability to create a host of very different and distinct characters, each one consistently entertaining,was a credit to his acting and comedic ability.

If you’re looking for energetic and clever humor, and good laugh as well, the Leeds Tealights will definitely satisfy you.


Verity Bell

at 10:56 on 18th Aug 2015



Taken as a whole, Discuss… is an original take on standard university sketch comedy fare. The inventive structure was easily the best aspect of the show, cleverly and unexpectedly knitting together the disparate themes and plots of individual sketches.

The young, five-strong company were all talented performers whose excellent physicality and projection carried the piece with enthusiasm – the occasional out-of-character giggle was endearing rather than irritating. Unusually for a sketch comedy, physical theatre was where in particular the company shone - watching their leaping, cartwheeling and tumbling across the stage was a joy and a treat. While it was somewhat disappointing to see yet another all-male university sketch group, the troupe are undoubtedly confident and comfortable young actors.

It was a shame, therefore, to see a bunch brimming with so much artistic potential forced into characters produced by uninspiring writing. While the overall structure of the show is to be praised, the script of individual sketches was not nearly tight enough. Too many punchlines relied on spoofs of Roald Dahl books and popular culture references aimed at university students: Willy Wonka, James and the Giant Peach, the Wizard of Oz, West Side Story and the Duke of Edinburgh awards all made an appearance.

Recognition is likely to produce a cheap laugh, but it does inhibit the potential originality of sketch characters and alienate audience members who fail to get the references, either as a function of either age or interests. It would have been great to see The Leeds Tealights attempt braver comedy - the absurd, the politically controversial (and no, a sketch about the BNP does not count as controversial) or social commentary.

Despite these problems, there was enough genuinely humorous material to move the show forward to its thoroughly amusing conclusion. If you fancy a fresh take on a time-honoured format, The Leeds Tealights are a very safe bet.


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