Review – Minor Delays at Soho Theatre

T’rrific stuff from Joe Barnes, Abi Tedder and Harry Michell

Minor Delays sketch comedy

There’s no shortage of good, young sketch groups around, and on the face of it, no-frills trio Minor Delays hardly stand out from the pack – they look familiar and they sound familiar, to put it bluntly, and they deploy similar rhythms and ticks to their sketch comrades.

But stand out they do. In their second full-length show, they consistently show they’re capable of original ideas, smart writing and snappy performances. It’s a pretty brave show, too, performance-wise, as every moment of the entire show depends on them and their writing. By which I mean, there’s not one prop, gimmick, visual aid or anything else to hide behind. No one whips out a guitar and sings a silly song at any point, gets anyone from the audience – nothing. It’s quite rare to see an entirely crutch-free, stand-and-deliver sketch show, and it suggests they have total belief in their abilities.

As if to underline this confidence, they perform facing the audience the entire time, not once turning to address each other. It’s an unusual theatrical technique for a comedy act to adopt – it’s a little bit Peep Show, a little bit Beckett – and it adds a nice confrontational edge to the funnies.

And they have every to be confident in their wears, as there are plenty of laugh out loud moments. Their recurring characters of the smug seven-year-old and the guy who spoils people’s big moments are inspired and wonderfully executed. I particularly enjoyed the Rotherham tour guide who gives us too much information, and their encounter with “Racist Mike” at a party. The frenetic opening of visualised gags shows they have plenty of jokes in the locker, and there’s a nice variety of tone, with elements of surreal, cruel, and locker room humour in among all the other stuff. They certainly appear to have a wider palette than other young sketch groups.

It wasn’t all great, and they may at some point need to carve out more of an identity, but for now, being known as a very, very good sketch act will more than do.

4 stars
Review written by Paul Fleckney

• Minor Delays are at Soho Theatre until Saturday 12 March

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