Next Level Sketch with Daniel Willis and Just These Please

Next Level Sketch with Just These Please. Not pictured: Daniel Willis on a train to Brighton

I can’t take too much credit for this one.

Distracted by writing and learning a song to perform at my sister’s impending wedding, approximately 95% of the organisation, preparation and planning was done by my fabulous co-producers Paul Creasy and Nadine Bailey, pictured here, as everyone should be, on the far left.

I had also recused myself from the cast, which meant all I had to do was host and usher. This was about all I was capable of in any case: my last bike job of a hectic day was shifting a sofa for a lovely food bank worker in Somerstown, meaning I arrived somewhat late and flustered.

Using an imaginary mic.

After an intro of relentless pro-union propaganda – with jokes! – I vacated the stage for our first guest act, Daniel Willis.

Dan is bringing his debut sketch show to Edinburgh this summer, ably assisted by his director, NLS and Factually Inaccurate tech legend Jamie Clarke. Here he previewed twenty minutes of it, and from what we saw on Wednesday it’s going to be a very funny and revealing delve into the psyche of “Dan Willis”, a man.

His interaction with a legion tech cues – essentially having a conversation with recorded versions of himself and, I assume, other members of his sketch group The Free Mondays – remains an impressive feat, and I urge you to go see him perform in “Scotland” this summer.

Hey it’s Next Level Sketch! Over the past year we’ve built up a really lovely core of performers and writers, and we continue to develop our own style from our many-headed beast of a writing process.

Paul Creasy and a horse.

A special word for James Turner, who marked his return with a couple of brilliant and extremely stupid sketches with delightfully satisfying punchlines, and to Shruti Sharma, who has gone from helping out on tour to being a delightfully sardonic on-stage presence in a matter of months.

And thanks, also, to Roderick, for being the Jesus of my dreams.

Flex Toomey, Jesus, Nadine Bailey, Manisha Patel, and Judas.

Our headliners were returning champions Just These Please, performing in front of a black void with mysterious transformative properties*.

Previewing their entire hour-long Edinburgh show, Honestly No Pressure Either Way, JTP remain “Top Gun” writers and performers, learning their craft, like most sketch comedians, on a nuclear powered aircraft carrier in the mid-1980s.

They’re all such strong performers. One thing I love to do while watching them is keeping an eye on whoever has least to do in a particular sketch: they’re still giving it their all, as if the whole world is watching, which – given their social media numbers – is pretty much the case.

Sketch Comedy tends towards the nice, but these four are especially lovely, and we heartily recommend their Edinburgh show to you and all your many lovers.

* They brought a screen with them to get changed behind.

Published by jamesofwalsh

My past blogs haunt the internet like ghost ships on a digital sea.

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