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Sheeps tell bad reviewer to flock off

Tuesday, August 21 2012

One of the hardest things as a performer is to withstand bad reviews. Well, Sheeps don't just withstand, they counter. Here's Al (tall Sheeps, right) with a furious riposte


So it’s week 3 and us Sheeps are having a great time with our show. We’ve had some pleasing feedback, audiences seem to love it, and the handful of walkouts we’ve had were just because the venue’s so hot.

So, it’s all going well. But a couple of days ago, something tainted our Fringe experience just a bit. I was browsing on the internet when I happened to stumble across a review of our show. It was nasty. Really nasty. No point going into who wrote it or what publication it was. But it hurt.

Ah, bad reviews – that old chestnut! Yes, I know everyone gets them. Yes, I know they’re an essential part of any artist’s development. Yes, I know you’re supposed to ignore them and accept that some people may have different and/or wrong opinions. I get that. I know!

But this one-and-a-half star review on made me feel like a piece of shit.

Not because I have a ridiculously thin skin (I don’t). Not because it pithily deconstructed our show with a barrage of withering verbal dexterity (quite the opposite in fact, but we shall come to that). It was because it just didn’t seem that this reviewer was even in the same show. That’s the reason. That’s what makes artists mad.

Ok, first of all, in the second paragraph, this reviewer (who shall remain nameless) states that the "premise of a sketch where Spanish bullfighters travel through time telling ‘your mum' jokes’ to various historical figures was as confusing as it was unfunny".

Fine. You don’t like it, that’s ok. Not a problem (though, if you’ve managed to explain the premise of that sketch in one line, I don’t really see how it can be "confusing"). Look. Every single person at this Festival is entitled to an opinion, and if this reviewer feels that way about a sketch, that’s ok, just in the same way that the people who have generally laughed at that concept quite a lot throughout the run are entitled to their opinions. That’s normal. No problems here.

Except – wait a minute. We’re not actually playing Spanish "bullfighters" in that sketch are we? We’re playing flamenco dancers. So that begs the question – why did she write bullfighters? We say flamenco dancers at least six times in that sketch (we have to explain to the different historical figures who we are every time). Maybe she made a mistake. That’s fine – disappointing for a comedy reviewer – but fine, I suppose...

But what about when she says that I play the alcoholic judge (line 2) when that’s Liam’s character? And what about when she describes me as a "gangling Rowan Atkinson look-a-like" on line 25 (there is no resemblance at all). Are these really just honest mistakes?

And then there’s the real clincher for me. There is a sketch we do where all three of us play the same penis at different stages of a man’s life. It sounds big-headed, but this sketch has objectively stormed it every time it has been performed – London previews, Edinburgh previews, Edinburgh shows, wherever. And it was during this sketch that I caught the eye of our esteemed reviewer ... and she wasn’t even smiling! Fine at some of the other stuff that can split the room a bit more – but Three Cocks is a sketch that nails it every time. Nobody ever coughs during it; nobody ever leaves the room, no matter how hot it is.

And this is where the sobering truth rears its ugly head: Jen Sehovic has a personal grudge against our show.

Why? I don’t know. It is true that I did know a guy called Tim Sehovic in Year 4, and he did get picked on – not by me but by some of my close friends. He had bad skin and made a weird sound when he sneezed. School’s tough.

Perhaps this Tim is no relation. But when we approached Jen for clarification in the Pleasance Dome halfway party, I think it’s telling that she told us to "piss off". Nice.

Well, she’s reviewed our show so I think it’s only fair I should review her life. Here’s my advice to Jen Sehovic.

Piece of advice number one: learn English. You seem to be able to speak fluent English – well done – but it’s clear to anyone that you’ve made some dreadful grammatical and verbal mistakes in that review. A quick peek on Facebook, Twitter and Google makes it pretty clear you have close ties with the exotic city of Sarajevo. There’s nothing wrong with that necessarily – maybe there’s a Sarajevo Comedy Festival with some "confusing" sketches for you to extorpirate (look it up). But if you’re turning up to review a sketch show at the greatest English-speaking festival on the planet, it might be courteous of you to approach the venue with an up-to-date IELTS certificate just so that everyone is clear that you’re foriegn heritege won’t stop you writing a review that people can READ.

Piece of advice number two: concentrate! Sometimes we are being ironic. We don’t really think "all women are bad", it’s the characters’ opinions.

Finally, get a makeover, cos you look fucking ugly. That may not matter now you’re 15, but it will do very soon, and no lad I know would want a piece of that shit!

• Sheeps – Dancing With Lisa is on at 5.10pm at the Pleasance Courtyard


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