Pros: Energetic, ridiculously funny sketches delivered at break-neck speed.
Cons: It ended too soon but left us wanting more.
Buried deep in the bowels of Waterloo station, The Vaults look and feel every inch the heavy duty club venue; cavernous, claustrophobic with minimal lighting, the sound system threatens you with a nose bleed as the bass throbs in the air. I felt slightly overdressed in Chelsea boots, trousers and a military style jacket; like I turned up at the wrong party; though my buddy was down with the crowd in jeans and a hoodie. Situated in Banksie Alley, hoodies were tagging their latest effort as we joined the throng entering the venue. Once inside, we soon found ‘The Cage’ and wisely took seats in the second row; well you never can rule out audience participation in a comedy show?
Fresh from the bear pit of Edinburgh’s Fringe, The Jest are a complete revelation in their debut show. Previously starring in BBC Radio 4’s Sketchorama, this immensely talented quintet raced through a plethora of characters, both real and imagined in some wonderfully absurd set ups. Most sketch shows are patchy, but these guys hit the mark virtually every time. From the brilliantly inventive ‘kids haunted by Jim Broadbent’ to ‘irritated ghost hunters trying to lose a spirit’, they kept the audience guessing and were never predictable in their material. A scarily good impression of Dame Maggie Smith was used to anchor many of the sketches, as they took pot shots at package holidays with ‘corrupt travel agents showing tourists around an Eastern Bloc state’ and pompous history presenters with ‘historical misunderstandings’. Possibly their finest moment was the sketch featuring recovering Imodium addicts teaching primary school children about the dangers of drugs; simply inspired.
The Jest are comprised of Ella Ainsworth, Tristan Rogers, Jack Stanley, Luke Theobald and Bryony Twydle. They work superbly as an ensemble; in pairs or solo; moreover, they all have starring roles that stand out in the memory. They represent the very best in British comedy; smart, sophisticated and literate with a generous helping of irony. Somebody should tug some strings at the BBC and get these guys a TV show, I reckon 9pm on BBC2 has got their name written all over it. This could be latest in a long line of classic sketch shows…Monty Python, Not the Nine O’clock News, The Fast Show, Little Britain and…the Jest, yes they are that good!
Produced, Written and Performed by: The Jest
Box Office: 0207 620 3364
Booking link: http://www.vaultfestival.com/project/the-jest/
Booking until: 1 February 2015