Review: Low Effort Sketches: The First Effort
Dynamic duo displays a masterclass in sketch comedy
Double act Alice Wickersham and ex-footlight Andy Bucks bring an hour of comedic genius to the Corpus Playroom on 9th May. Hardly missing a punchline, the duo managed to keep the crowd entertained for a full hour of wacky and varied skits with the audience on the edges of their seats. This performance certainly seemed far from low effort!
The concept of the sketch show was clever in itself. The pair started with a familiar sequence of skits that had previously awarded them winners of the 2022 Leicester Square Theatre Sketch Off, and unsurprisingly these all landed very well with the crowd. Starting off with a sketch about catching a spider – whilst desperately trying not to succumb to gender stereotypes – went down swimmingly.
However, the star performance of this sequence – and arguably of the whole performance – had to be the simple but stunningly effective rendition of the Circle of Life from the popular Disney film The Lion King. This hilarious performance had the crowd in fits of laughter as Andy and Alice sang in increasing pitch, and became more and more desperate and fanatic as the song progressed. The pair admitted that it had probably been their most simple, yet consistently effective sketch they’ve ever done.
Realising no sketch could possibly be funnier than a screechy rendition of an Elton John classic, the duo revealed the mission of the show – to write a sketch that might be just as funny as their rendition of the Circle of Life. The rest of the performance was characterised by carefully placed punchlines, wordplay, and callbacks, along with a candid sense of self-awareness throughout.
The duo went on to explore different ways to create an amusing skit, utilising different lighting, audience participation, props, voiceovers, and short one-liners. Whilst certain sketches were slightly less well-received, such as the skit which utilised a Sainsbury’s “bag for life,” as a “bag for choice” in a women’s reproductive rights march, overall the format exposed the audience to the huge range of techniques that could be used to create a successful comedy sketch. The sketches were executed with confidence and conviction which maintained the momentum throughout.
A particularly funny – albeit seemingly unprepared – moment of the performance was when a member of the crowd was brought on stage to play the “Invagination Game” with the duo. The audience volunteer was unexpectedly good at the game which played out on stage, and whilst it became slightly drawn out after a while, Andy managed to keep the tempo up with his impromptu whistling and interjections as the referee of the game.
Throughout the series of sketches, Andy and Alice called back to previous jokes in the show, which helped to keep the thread of performance together. A particularly funny moment was Andy’s startlingly good impression of Scooby Doo, again referencing a previous skit set on death row. When it was revealed that the four-legged childhood hero was to be sentenced to death by lethal injection, it was a clever, yet slightly startling moment for the audience!
Another moment worth recognising was the duo’s office job skit, where Andy played a 58-year-old office worker, who overtly irritated Alice as he enthusiastically declared his undying love for office work. Andy’s enthusiasm about the prospect of sending “endless Google Docs” went down a treat. Although this sketch fell slightly flat when it was revealed Andy was, in fact, an AI worker, and started robotically repeating, “all hail Elon”, the duo’s acknowledgement that “that one kind of fizzled out” actually made the sketch far more amusing.
The performance ended in a moment of comedic consolidation. Realising it was impossible to top a squeaking rendition of the Circle of Life, the pair sang an encore at double speed – but this time incorporated props that had been used out throughout the course of the performance. This almighty crescendo tied together all the show’s loose ends, as the whole room engaged in a clamorous cover of the iconic tune.
Overall, The First Effort was a cleverly written show, which was well executed, performed, and received by the audience. The pair managed to keep the audience laughing at every turn, and the hour went by in a flash – which is always a good sign. The cyclical ending was a fantastic way to end the performance, and it was clear that everyone had a truly great time; you’d be hard-pressed to find much for this dynamic duo to improve on.
The First Effort was shown on 9th May at 9.30 pm at the Corpus Playroom.
Feature image credits: Low Effort Sketches