Just These, Please

Wed 8th – Mon 27th August 2018

reviews

Jasmine Silk

at 09:17 on 23rd Aug 2018

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'Just These, Please' may be new to the fringe but their sketches show a level of skill and knowledge of audience that could compare to many of the more seasoned groups. For the most part this show is safe bet if you want to have a chuckle every couple of minutes, although the belly laughs aren’t quite there.

Their sketches range from reinventing children’s books, to meetings between all the earth’s species, to a meeting between a penis and a vagina. While their sketches are varied, all of them share the absurd and intelligent humour of this troupe. It is their ability to use the element of surprise to their advantage and make the familiar absurd that makes this comedy effective. This also makes them memorable, and hours later I still find myself laughing at a couple moments from the show.

Another very positive aspect was the skill of the actors involved; the absurdity works largely because of their ability to convincingly play the surreal and extreme. Throughout the show their changes in physicality and voice support the writing perfectly. For example, in the very first sketch the actors mimic the behaviour of different animals, including the, literally, slimy politician at the helm. Their humour is often a slow burn; the jokes are layered and these layers gradually reveal themselves as the sketch goes on.

Unfortunately, while some of the sketches are genius other sketches fall flat, and there is the sense that the show begins to falter as it goes into its second half. Some jokes become far more obvious and predictable, whilst the final sketch is just slightly unclear.

The Fringe is of course a place to test material, so this should by no means be a surprise, or put you off from seeing it. Regardless this is one of the better sketch comedy groups I have seen at the Fringe, and with this being their first run they can only get even better.

If you want to see a great traditional sketch comedy then I would recommend this show. It is an undeniably entertaining way to begin your afternoon and it will send you off with a smile on your face.

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Miles Jackson

at 19:23 on 23rd Aug 2018

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‘Just These, Please’ is everything the Fringe shouldn’t be; safe, predictable and relentlessly unfunny. Cramming 25 sketches into a 55-minute runtime, it’s a case of quantity over quality. Half-baked ideas race by at a mercifully brisk pace, yet each sketch is so tiresome and clichéd that the curtain call can’t come soon enough.

In fairness to the company of four, they are undoubtedly talented performers. Each of the dozens of characters in the show are well-defined and distinctive, with the production possessing a slickness that belies the fact that this is their Fringe debut. Yet this professionalism is ultimately rendered moot by the show’s sheer mirthlessness.

Almost all of the sketches in the show seem to have been contrived through looking at an object one encounters everyday and attempting to will some comedy through it. That’s not an inherently bad method of writing a show, but each sketch lacks any kind of subtlety, consistently aiming for the lowest common denominator. A horrifically overdrawn sketch about which smoothie one should buy in a supermarket culminates in an aggressive Glaswegian accent that is simply too broad to elicit a laugh.

Indeed, sketches are regularly both too long and performed too excessively for any of the comedy to land. An argument between a man and his penis might have comic potential on paper, but instead devolves into a one-note shouting match onstage. Many of the sketches barely even have endings that could be considered punchlines, such as a mortifyingly unoriginal sketch about what Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle.

There is one genuine laugh in the hour, which comes in a legitimately quite clever sketch involving a personal assistant sent in lieu of her boss for a ‘catch up’ with the boss’ friend. It’s one of the few sketches with an actual structure, each segment sensibly ramping up the comic absurdity until reaching the logical endpoint, at which point the sketch ends. It also features the only laugh-out-loud punchline of the show, a sly one liner that actively subverts what the audience already knows about the character in question rather than simply reinforcing that information, as nearly every other sketch does.

It’s too little too late, a glimmer of hope in an otherwise utterly miserable hour. Things are only availed by the actually rather tasteful selection of pop songs that punctuate every transition. Otherwise, there’s very little to recommend about ‘Just These, Please’, which is probably the worst sketch show I’ve seen at the Fringe. One can only hope the team return next year with something better.

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