School of Comedy DVD Review - www.impulsegamer.com -

Feature 4.5
Video 7.0
Audio 6.5
Special Features 5.0
Total 4.5
Distributor: Roadshow
Running Time: 228
Classification:
 MA15+
Reviewer: Andrew Proverbs

4.5


School of Comedy

The name explains the premise fairly well really: this is a comedy sketch show, featuring school-age actors aged between 12 and 16. The concept was conceived by drama teacher Laura Lawson during her lessons at a London school. The idea was for the students to contribute ideas and performances to a comedy routine, allowing for inappropriate language and ideas- this is very much a show aimed at adult audiences.

School of Comedy was originally performed during a school assembly, before it went on to become a live show. This DVD release contains the 6 episodes that were filmed for the UK’s channel 4.

After watching the first episode, it became clear to me that this was humour on the crude end of the scale: think of some of Catherine Tate’s characters and you’re on the right track. The most intelligent skit was about a pair of lesbians living in the 1940’s and trying to profess their love to one of the pair’s husbands- not the most intellectual comedy I’ve encountered, but it left me with some hope that the rest of the episodes might up the ante and produce something clever.

Unfortunately, I was let down: while Will Poulter and Max Brown’s portrayal of louts yelling random abuse at passers-by garnered some chuckles for its wit, the rest of the sketches were about kids swearing and not much else, really. Lilly Ainsworth plays a number of roles, one of which, a barmaid, is perhaps the most horrible and ear-piercing character I’ve ever seen on a sketch show. I found my finger twitching towards the mute button on my remote whenever she was on screen.

The problem with this show is that the shock of children swearing quickly wears off, and there isn’t enough left to keep you engaged. These kids have great acting range, switching between characters and accents with skill, but in the end the writing lets them down.

And towards the end of the series, things go downhill as we are confronted with endless boob jokes and pointless swearing.

Like Little Britain and the Catherine Tate show, School of Comedy uses the same characters and settings form week to week, altering the punch-line slightly each time. Unlike those shows, though, there isn’t enough variety.

Jokes are rarely unexpected, which for me is the basis of all successful comedy. After two episodes you know where each scene is going and you start to tune out.

When we hear ’Old Macdonald’ swearing about his neighbours the first time it might be funny, but by the end of the series it starts to wear very thin indeed. 

I wanted this series to succeed, for the simple fact that the actors all have big, likeable personalities and they obviously had a lot of fun putting this show together (juggling schoolwork at the same time, no less), but it fell short of the mark on almost every occasion.

Humour is a very subjective thing. If you like yours towards the crude end of the scale you might enjoy this. It had a couple of standout moments, but they were too fleeting for me to be able to recommend this release.

For the young actors, I saw huge potential. But until they move to another programme, with better writing and a meaningful dose of maturity, that’s all it’s going to be: potential.

Special Features: 

Along with the standard commentary, you have ‘Extra Lessons,’ which is a behind-the scenes look containing bloopers, an insight into the actors and the characters they portray, and little snippets explaining how the series came to be.






 
 



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