Company: WitTank/Avalon Promotions
The comedy maestros that have featured in BBC 3’s Live at the Electric, alongside comic giant Russel Kane, are expanding their comedy empire. The English trio (Naz Osmanoglu, Kieran Boyd and Mark Cooper-Jones), renowned for their notoriously silly, subversive sketch shows, have already captured the hearts of TV watchers, and are now colonising the Edinburgh festival with their show comprising a series of insane sketches taking place in an all-boys boarding schools. The show combines glorious dark wit, some mild obscenity, and lots and lots of taking the mick out of traditional stereotypes, to form an absurd hybrid which can only be described as fabulously deranged sketch comedy mayhem.
Amongst the gallery of characters that make an appearance is a sadistic ex-con headmaster whose leisure activities include laminating misbehaving students and unleashing on them his hive of trained killer bees, an obsessive compulsive music teacher with perspiration issues, an Austrian mother with a Texan accent and an insatiable sexual appetite, and, last but not least, a sexually frustrated overhead projector that finds love in unexpected places…to be precise, in the ghost of Walt Disney.
As you can probably see from these examples, the ‘boarding school’ theme is a pretty loose one. But although the action occasionally go off on a tangent, it’s a detour well-worth taking and they somehow always manage to reel the action back to the original theme, in all it’s warped glory. The show is impeccably staged – they have their comic timing is down a T – but never at the expense of feeling overly rehearsed, or worse still, rigid. Osmanoglu in particular occasionally improvises, which is always welcome in a live performance, and shows just how much WitTank are in control and in their element at all times.
Still braver is the choice to involve the audience in the action itself, a potentially risky move in a rehearsed sketch show, which can often seem cringy or a cheap way to get laughs from the audience. But WitTank sidestep this issue. Not ones to take the obvious route, the comedy trio find innovative ways of involving viewers, immersing them in the experience from the word go.
With ‘WitTank presents The School’, The comedic maestros show their ambitions stretch far beyond remaining Russel Kane ‘s side-show act at Live at the Electric. In one hour of off-the-walls insanity, WitTank show they can sustain an unoriginal theme in an original and often, extremely funny, way for a pretty good amount time, which some would say, is more or less what comedy is all about. I would be hard pressed to think of a better way to spend an hour.