/ comedy

This is an Excuse

As the debut scripted performance piece from improv pair Hayward and Hadid, This is an Excuse is a rather poor excuse for sketch comedy. But allow me to elaborate, lest we kick off another Twitter-tiff à la the ‘Mr. Mooney Affair’.

This is an Excuse has at its heart an imaginably decent premise in the overall framing device; cue a dewy-eyed Cupid all at sea in the contemporary Tinder-minded world. But a consideration for post-modern times really ought to have first been given over to the platform of choice; welcome back to the stage, live sketch comedy!

Now, sketch comedy has always seemed rather sketchy territory to me. Like the literary short story, individual vignettes of a sometimes single idea must survive on more than their twist. But rather than being carefully refined, This is an Excuse reads more like a pair of high-school kids auditioning their end-of-year play, and while some of the comic reversals here held a suggestion of merit, the slow and clumsy delivery completely flattened any potential for punch.

Sketch’s requirement for sharp, well-crafted scripting is especially relevant in an era of ever-increasing gag-rates per-second, with the sheer frequency of attempted jokes found in alternative forms in effect raising their net-total of hits and more rapidly erasing the misses. Sadly, scripted theatre does not carry the relative luxuries of improv, where a remedial retreat from failing material can be engineered on the fly – in this case, for the performers and polite punters alike.

This is an Excuse is pitched as a "comedy for thinking women and the men who love them", but I’m pretty certain that the thinking women I love would think exactly the same as me: Hayward and Hadid are perfectly likeable performers, but it’s time to sharpen those arrows, reimagine the medium, and get up with the times. Dead on arrival. One asterisk.

Ryan Quinlan

Ryan Quinlan

Ryan Quinlan is a nomadic freelance writer and satirical columnist who seriously struggles to write about himself in third person.

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