THE ELEGANT GENTLEMANíS GUIDE TO KNIFE FIGHTING
Sketch comedy is by its very nature a hit and miss affair; even revered
programs such as the classic Fast Forward have more than their
fair share of groanworthy moments. Australian sketch comedy in
particular has copped a consistent critical drubbing, with the bad taste
of failed shows like The Wedge still lingering in the mouth of
many viewers. So, it is with trepidation that I sat down to watch the
latest foray into short form comedy, the exquisitely named The
Elegant Gentlemanís Guide to Knife Fighting.
Thankfully I was pleasantly surprised by the latest offering from
Jungleboys, the creative minds behind the brilliant A Moody
Christmas. Probably the closest comparison I could use when trying
to explain the premise of the show is Monty Pythonís Flying
Circus on LSD, with boundary pushing and taboo subjects falling
squarely into their comedic crosshairs. Given its origins as an online
comedy site free of the shackles of censorship, the direction of the
series isnít whatís really surprising, itís the fact that the ABC
commissioned such a subversive, potentially alienating program.
As such, some viewers may be deterred by some of the darker comedy, such
as a hilarious sketch where a young boy wishing to view the cockpit of a
plane inadvertently gets dragged into partaking in an Al-Qaeda
hijacking, but, in my opinion, there are no sacred cows in comedy and my
sense of humour is rather skewed anyway, so I found myself enamoured by
much of what was on display across the six episodes.
The show features some Gilliam-like animations that serve to break up
proceedings a bit, and some truly inspired sketches like the
Pornographic movie set OH&S officer, Captain Cookís unimaginative naming
of islands and a man who becomes fixated on the pronunciation of the
surname ďSmithstonĒ caused me to guffaw out loud.
The ensemble cast do a great job with the material and their
performances cannot be faulted in any way; on the odd occasion where a
joke doesnít exactly land, the castís dedication to the scene prevents
it from failing completely.
The line-up of talented performers include Patrick Brammal from the
aforementioned A Moody Christmas, Phil Lloyd from the equally
brilliant Review with Myles Barlow, plus familiar faces from
international productions like Damon Heriman from Justified and
Georgina Haig, who has appeared in Fringe. The calibre of talent
is second to none and lends an air of prestige to the show that should
serve to attract curious viewers on name basis alone.
It may be a tad premature to call on the basis of one series, but I
think The Elegant Gentlemanís Guide to Knife Fighting takes the
comedic baton from the aforementioned classic Fast Forward and runs with
it admirably, positioning itself at the vanguard of an exciting and edgy
new chapter in Australian sketch comedy.
Special features include a blooper reel and some sketches that were left
on the cutting room floor. The bloopers are exactly the type of fare
youíd expect, whereas the unseen footage can be a little shaky; there
are some good concepts behind them but for whatever reason they just
didnít land. Having said that though, there are a few giggles to be
garnered from giving them a look, and even ďfailedĒ Elegant Gentleman
sketches are, for my money, much better quality than much of the comedic
fare that graces our screens.
List of Features:
The Break Up (1:12)
Retired Ray (2:53)
Historical Trolls (1:32)
Tuckshop Dad (2:53)
The Elegant Gentlemanís Guide to Knife Fighting
has proven to be rather polarising, with many lamenting the shows
blackly comic sensibilities. There are, as expected from the format,
some jokes that donít quite work, but I personally found them to be few
and far between; humour is a subjective beast, of course, and what
tickles my funny bone may not do the same for you, but if youíre a fan
of dark and subversive humour then The Elegant Gentlemanís Guide to
Knife Fighting should be right up your alley. I, for one, am looking
excitedly towards seeing what Jungleboys and co. have up their sleeves
for the second series. Recommended.