Satire can often be found at the root of absurdism. Usually when the world gets too unusual to be commented on accurately through traditional means, artists look to surreal narratives and comedy to express astute views.The Establishment continues in this grand tradition as they turn the familiar idea of a classic, Morecombe and Wise-esque double act into an attempt at a scathing indictment of the British upper class. However, the extent to which they offer new insight into political affairs or new reaches into the realms of absurdism is questionable. The Establishment have the basis of a novel double act in their grasp, but
As long as they are willing to simply skim the surface of what they are trying to say in favour of cheap punchlines, The Establishment’s absurdist tendencies will continue to lack the bite they need to find success.
The Establishment are a sketch double act who craft absurd whimsy from broad stereotypes of the English upper class. The broad understanding that they are out-of-touch, ignorant and unwilling to change is well and truly skewered over the course of this hour. However, this idea fails to develop at all past the initial concept and said concept is nothing new to anyone in the audience. The Establishment, as performers, are undoubtedly clowns, with many of their sketches hinging far more on expression and physicality than solidly-crafted punchlines. While it is perhaps more excusable that clown acts work more broadly with stereotypes than with specific, cogent political statements, The Establishment’s lack of depth is truly exhausting after an hour.
The Establishment are accomplished physical performers who both have a way with words and their delivery. In addition, if they were to not draw quite such a strong and obvious influence from Reeves & Mortimer they would have the makings of a very original comic voice. It is completely possible that eventually The Establishment will be able to craft a dark, satirical, surreal hour of dissent against the ruling class. However, as long as they are willing to simply skim the surface of what they are trying to say in favour of cheap punchlines, The Establishment’s absurdist tendencies will continue to lack the bite they need to find success.