Fake News - A Sketch Show

Wed 15th – Sat 25th August 2018

reviews

Verity Kim

at 00:47 on 18th Aug 2018

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‘Fake News’ by The Birmingham Footnotes is an utterly unremarkable show that seems like a poorly executed copy of a newsroom sketch. The title of the show is rather misleading; this, indeed, is not a show about the frustrating and farcical state of American politics, and while I was glad not to have to listen to Donald Trump jokes for an hour, the content that is actually present is not much better.

The show takes the already overused format of a news show and adds nothing particularly new to it. A large swathe of the sketches felt like recycled versions of Saturday Night Live skits. From its parody of The Housewives of Beverly Hills to its feeble attempt at political commentary, the majority of the show relies on overworked material that has been commented on a million times elsewhere. The most enjoyable moments for me were in watching the actors’ facial expressions and movements, it’s interesting to see how they morph themselves into several different characters.

Frustratingly enough, the comedic potential is hindered by the material, which severely lacks personality. The news format felt increasingly scripted, and the repetition of running jokes added to this factor.

Another element that baffled me was the use of audience participation. Before the show, people were asked to vote for whatever topic they would like the show to comment on or include, but the poll seemed to have little bearing on the actual show. The suggestions featured for less than two extremely short segments in the course of an hour. While the gesture was nice, the vote did little to create a feeling of being included in the process.

I like my comedy like I like my news—fresh and slightly disturbing. Unfortunately, ‘Fake News’ is not quite up to the job. The show is interesting in its own ways, but it’s just a little bit too stale and overworked for my taste.

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Megan Denny

at 01:55 on 18th Aug 2018

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As we wait to take our seats for The Birmingham Footnotes’ sketch comedy show, we are invited to vote on what we would like to see in tonight’s performance. Options range from Kim Kardashian to Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut Cornflakes – a promising start to a show which unfortunately turned out to be hit-and-miss throughout.

The concept of ‘Fake News – A Sketch Show’ is solid: a parody of a morning TV show, allowing for different segments including weather, entertainment news and, of course, politics. The two presenter characters, Freddie and Stella, are well performed, and their introduction with a name mix-up has good timing. However, these characters seem overused within the hour-long comedy, and thus the running joke about the tension between them ultimately wears thin.

My favourite part of the show is actually the commercial break, particularly the advert for Gap Year flights with a brilliantly re-written version of ‘YMCA’ involving every member of the strong cast. It is a shame that this is by far the most original sketch of the hour, and it demonstrates the real capability of the Footnotes. A show full of material of this quality would be great.

Instead, the various segments of the TV show play on stereotypes, and as a result often feel unoriginal – for example, a verbose celebrity gossip reporter, and a clueless politics journalist. Many of the punchlines fall flat, probably due to their familiarity. However, the weather presenter sketch, in which he is forced to use his body as a map of Great Britain, is a highlight, as is a report on how technology is effecting our ‘mating rituals’, complete with David Attenborough-esque commentary.

When the Footnotes hit the mark, it is well worth seeing. However, the varying quality of the sketches and the constant ‘cutting back to the studio’ make for a somewhat disjointed show.

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