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