The Jest

The Jest feels TV-ready and in more ways than one. This troupe’s eponymous show is steeped in a wide array of televisual influences, from adverts to PSAs to programme parody. In addition to this, the way they incorporate interstitial titles lends a freshness to the rapid fire sketch format. The biggest reason that you should expect to see this hour of sketch comedy on your screens soon however, is that the comic ability of these five performers is vast and their sketch offerings reflect this.

This hour worth watching for the Dame Maggie Smith impression alone.

After an on-point Dallas-style opening sequence to the show, the performers showcase an eclectic mix of sketches, moving swiftly between Imodium-addicted anti-drug speakers and a series of “historical misunderstandings” which force you to re-contemplate what you thought you knew about the iconic events of yore. Some of the sketches are dark, some are weird, but all are funny.

It’s invigorating to be presented with a troupe that cares more about being comical than seeming cool. These are sketches which either take oft done material but add a weird twist – such as the Weekend at Bernie’s/Psycho holiday sketch mash-up you didn’t know you needed – or are conceptually original in their own right. When the penny drops in this show, it’s nearly always something you weren’t expecting.

There’s also an admirable attention to detail in this hour. Little things like naming a frightfully middle class character ‘Una’ all add up to the impression that this has been carefully constructed for maximum audience enjoyment. They even take the very tired audience participation trope and play with it a sketch, making it interesting. This is something I thought was near impossible at this point.

Though you’ll never be able to listen to Yazoo’s Only You ever again, The Jest is well worth the late night trip. Afterwards you’ll be waiting rabidly by your TV screens to see these performers because if there’s any justice a TV show is coming. If for no other reason, this hour worth watching for the Dame Maggie Smith impression alone.

Reviews by Joe Christie

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The Blurb

Recommended by the List, comedy quintet The Jest present an all-new hour of dark and subversive sketches. Be it a depraved travel agent showing unwilling tourists around an Eastern Bloc country you've never heard of, or a pair of recovering Imodium addicts teaching primary school children about the dangers of drugs, the show boasts an array of colourful and grotesque characters. And Maggie Smith. ‘Smart cookies, few props, excellent writing ... tick tick tick’ **** (List). ‘Impressive ... seriously witty ... very talented’ **** (