Review: Sketch Off Final 2024, Leicester Square Theatre

Review: Sketch Off Final 2024, Leicester Square Theatre

This year's Sketch Off Final had me worried for a while. The line-ups are usually consistently strong and the standard is usually very high throughout. I was one of the judges* and at half-time this year although I'd enjoyed all of the acts, I hadn't really seen anyone who I thought had that special something - call it X Factor if you must – to make them the winner. 

First up were trio Dirty Laundry who initially gave off a jolly children's entertainer vibe but were actually a bit more adult than that. Though only a bit more adult. Their sketches – skewering news reports and cooking programes – were slick and polished but just lacked that extra spark. Never easuy going first and they did go down well, but without blowing the judges away.

Next up the Gaulier-trained Ozzy Algar and then Max Devine both went for comedy with a little more edge, something more left-field. Once could see potential in both short sets. Maybe it was the time limit but they failed to make a real impact. Devine was probably the better of the two, coming on in eccentric swmming gear and repeatedly saying "OK" at the end of almost every sentence. But they tried a bit of audience participation, which is always risky in a final, and on this occasion it didn't really come off. Both were clearly skilled performers but not quite there on this occasion. 

Jake Detenber played a restaurant customer trying to be knowledgeable but coming across as a smug know-all with his patronising "Namaste" attitude to the waiter. Sketch groups tend to be from either stand-ups or acting backgrounds - solo act Detenber definitely felt like an actor (I could be wrong of course). Nothing wrong with that at all, but his set was more of a character study than a comedy act. 

Finlay and Joe closed the first half with a simple but effective concept that I'd never come across before, imagining multiverses where instead of Paddington being a bear found at Paddington Station there are other cute or not so cute creatures found at other stations. This was such a good idea they should somehow patent it and maybe do more with it. It was certainly a lively end to the first half and they might have been in the running fro a placing had things not gone up a gear following the interval.

Review continues here...


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