Continuum!: A New Sketch Show

HANNAH MIRSKY gives three stars to this pleasant mix of slightly half-baked sketches.

ADC theatre Continuum hannah mirsky

ADC Theatre, 11pm, Thu 13th – Sat 15th March, £5/6

Sketch shows often feel the need to have a concept, a really clever framing device which will tie all their sketches together in an ingenious yet subtle and unobtrusive way. The show is a camping trip. The five performers sit in sleeping bags at the start of the show, merrily waving at audience members as they come in. There are voiceover ‘video diary’ updates about how the trip is progressing interspersed between the sketches. I was always a bit disappointed when these voiceovers started: the sketches are funny, the performance energetic, so why bother slotting them into the ‘camping trip’ frame? This show is at its best when it’s at its most silly, which sketches that develop into ridiculous flights of fancy, and the audience has to slowly work out what going on. At these points, it is genuinely hilarious.

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Of course, every comedy show is to some degree hit and miss: sometimes silliness devolved into ‘beekeeping costumes are funny, aren’t they?’ and ‘I’ll put on a Northern accent for no real reason’. Sometimes the joke is pushed too far, or the punchline is too obvious. But these things are more than made up for by the energy of the performers, and the funniness of many other sketches. The moments when pop culture is satirised are excellent: a macabre shampoo ad is eerily close to something you might see on TV, and the squeaky American tones of a Youtube ganes reviewer are perfectly captured.But when it cuts loose from real-world associations, it is perhaps even better: there’s a sketch involving nipples and chandeliers that I can’t begin to describe, and one in which High Modernists become gangsters. The indisputable best sketch of the night involves a French accent, audience members interacting awkwardly on stage, a jacket over someone’s head, and a countdown chant. It’s really really seriously impressively funny.

This is by no means a perfect show: it suffers from sketch-show hit-and-miss, an unnecessary framing device and, last night, some frustrating tech problems. But what you want in a comedy lateshow is something that will make you sit back, relax, and have a good giggle. And this show manages that perfectly.