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The Bosun's Delight: Spectacular Sketchtacular
The Hen and Chickens
6th August 2016

★★☆☆☆

Andrew Carberry, Jules Garnett​ and Christopher Serbutt

Photography © Shay Rowan

The wonderful thing about sketch comedy is anything goes and if it doesn't work, well, you move on quickly. Having formed in early 2015, comedy troupe The Bosun's Delight are still navigating their way through unpredictable comedy waters, with their Spectacular Sketchtacular a 70-minute flurry of new ideas. The group is made up of Vic Rance, Christopher Serbutt, Jules Garnett​, Andrew Carberry and Jac Latham. They present roughly two dozen sketches to us which include appearances from television cook Phoney Haddock (Serbutt), a whistle-obssessed shopkeeper (Garnett) and a sleazy Cockney bank manager (Carberry). Although there are a few television and nautical based sketches, this show is very much about variety rather than adhering to one particular theme.

Basing a recurring character on Fanny Cradock, whose years in the limelight were from the 1950s through to the 1990s, probably gives you an idea of The Bosun's Delight's intended target audience. There's no "Ooh, Matron" anywhere, however the gentle humour is very much of that period. Whilst the style of comedy doesn't feel current, the problem is not in its age, but in its lack of sharpness. There are though some praiseworthy aspects. To start with, there are frequent references with through-lines - there has been a clear attempt to give this show some structure and it is the better for it.

Carberry reacts to a costume malfunction brilliantly, raising a bigger chuckle from some hasty improv than his pre-prepared lines. And that I suppose is the hint as to how to make this a more dynamic, entertaining show: the group need to inject a bit more of their own personality into their sketches. They all seem to be very different people with different personalities and that diversity is a strength on which they should greater rely. We can see plenty of checkboxes ticked in putting together the show, but to elevate it into something more enjoyable, they just need a bit more energy. Whilst the performers are having fun, they're having fun within a set of rules, probably learned from the course they all took part in together last year.

There is nothing wrong in pitching a comedy show at an older generation - after all, there's a clear gap in the market now for Islington japes after the Kings Head started taking a very different approach to its programming. However, older doesn't mean staid, and the group just need to liven up proceedings, upping the pace and maybe making use of audio.

Although Rance often struggles to keep a straight face, he works well with his counterparts. Everyone has a certain confidence and swagger, which will serve them well in future gigs. Latham has the most promising delivery, and with some better material could probably deliver some killer punchlines really easily. There's certainly a lot of potential yet to come out.

Let's be clear, The Bosun's Delight haven't run aground, they have much of what they need already to fly the funny flag and sail confidently through the high seas of hilarity. They just need to make their work a bit tighter and enjoy themselves even more.

The Bosun's Delight: Spectacular Sketchtacular opened on 5th August and runs until 7th August 2016 at the Hen and Chicken, as part of the Camden Fringe.

Nearest tube station: Highbury & Islington (Overground, Victoria)



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