Any budding sketch group could do far worse than give Daphne’s show a visit. Phil Wang, Jason Forbes, and George Fouracres not only deliver a smart, surprising, and jaw-achingly hilarious hour, they also provide their audience with a thorough education in the art of sketch comedy.
Traditional methods are used, abused and ultimately flouted in favour of an offbeat, clever, and constantly evolving approach to sketch comedy.
The trio complement each other perfectly. Fouracres is a master of accents and shows impressive powers of memorisation. His recurring ‘popular’ songs break up the show nicely as kooky mini-sketches. Forbes might well be a contortionist, so beguiling is his physical comedy. His obscene, tongue-wagging, winking Ainsley Harriott character is like nothing anyone has ever seen, ever. And Wang is just silly. Very, very silly.
Transitions are so slick they are barely there at all. No musical interludes or tenuous segues. Often sketches casually give way to meta-comedic commentary as the threesome explain what they’re doing as they’re doing it (‘the pull-back and reveal – it’s very funny’). Or not, whatever they feel like. On one occasion, a member just says ‘shall we do the next one?’ Or the next sketch would simply begin, without introduction but with a lot of conviction. More than anything, it’s the trio’s unfaltering control that allows them to get away with such a blasé approach to the structure of their show. Even with the wackiest, most chaotic sketches, there’s implicit trust in Daphne’s command over their medium.
Despite the maturity of the group, they are certainly not above the lame pun or a bit of pure slapstick. Forbes gives a truly spectacular performance as an over-worked barista, careering round the stage, dropping things, running into walls, tripping over, and getting up and doing it all again. It’s exhausting just to watch. Great physical comedy is used again in the palaeontology lecture sketch, where Forbes and Wang play spider and fly as Fouracres delivers a deadpan monologue.
Sometimes Daphne decide to leave their audience hanging for quite some time. The ins and outs of Orange Wednesdays are laboriously detailed to a grieving mother. Another sketch involves the famous St Crispin’s day speechfrom Henry V. While these bold efforts were enjoyable, being held in suspense for so long, I expected an ever so slightly bigger payoff.
But plenty of sketches reach the height of perfection. Some of the funniest involve a Sherlock-esque conman, and a Radio 4 drama script read-through that reveals the character's’ racial prejudices. When this morphed into an all-swearing Archers episode, Daphne had me crying with laughter.
Daphne are great. Traditional methods are used, abused and ultimately flouted in favour of an offbeat, clever, and constantly evolving approach to sketch comedy.