In pictures: the next generation of sketch groups

Wednesday, May 26 2010

Meet this crop of sketch troupes hoping to emulate the success of We Are Klang, Pappy's or Idiots of Ants: relative newbies WitTank, The Three Englishmen and The Grandees and the more seasoned Pros From Dover.

The four acts congregated at Leicester Square Theatre on Monday at a sketch showcase, where these images were taken. Thanks to Alex Brenner for the photography.

WitTank are (l-r) Mark Cooper-Jones, Naz Osmanoglu and Kieran Boyd, and have been holed up in the Etcetera Theatre, Camden, for the past few months where they've had a fortnightly residency. Their infectious bonhomie and imaginative tangents raise them above the average post-uni sketch venture, and have bagged them some four-star reviews at last year's Edinburgh Festival.

In Naz Osmanoglu, WitTank has a rising stand-up in his own right, he having won the Amused Moose Laugh-Off in 2009 and been nominated for the Chortle Best Newcomer award.

The Three Englishmen are Ben Cottam, Nick Hall, Jack Hartnell, Tom Hensby (that's Tom and Ben above). They bring to mind a mid-90s Manchester United midfield – all strong personalities with natural presence and inventiveness. There's a touch of Idiots of Ants about this lot, too, in their style and themes.

Here's Jack Hartnell and Nick Hall. That makes four of course, bringing to mind the Blackadder Goes Forth gag about the cabaret act The Tree Twerps – "the big joke being, there's only two of 'em". Think it's safe to say the Englishmen trump the twerps.

The show at Leicester Square Theatre was held together by MC Josh Widdicombe, an LiF favourite who is rightly climbing the ranks after winning the Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year last year.

The Grandees are Marny Godden, Tom Turner (above) and Greg Faulkner. They have been up to the Edinburgh Festival for the past two years and picked up some good reviews along the way.

Probably the most surreal group on tonight's bill, The Grandees have two vital ingredients for sustainable mirth – a wild imagination and unshakeable onstage confidence. The combination of which means that while they may not go to your world, sooner or later you will go to theirs.

You'd expect a little gravitas from the elder statesmen of tonight's sketch troupes, thankfully Phil Whelans, Sean Garratt and Richard Glover – aka the Pros From Dover – keep things wonderfully silly.

Perhaps being more seasoned actors their sketches have a classic feel, with postmodern twists that evoke TV shows such as Big Train. Robin Ince


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