Ross Daniels’ One Small Trip is an excellent example of how comedy can, in this more enlightened age, play off caricatures whilst remaining (mostly) inoffensive – especially as the show was performed and written by an older white man. Sketch comedy has an element that is somehow more delightful and engaging than stand-up comedy – it is easier to be original, and draw in the audience, whilst simultaneously making the same punchy statements and getting the same laughs that stand-up does. Daniels’ clearly showcases his ability to bring laughter and keep comedy interesting.
Firstly, his ability to do characters is very impressive. Aside from himself, he played a wide variety of different characters, each with their own mannerisms and accents, which must have taken time and effort to research and rehearse. The absurdity of each one added to their comedic value, as well as showcasing just how good at characters Daniels’ is. The fact that he could switch characters rapidly without the audience needing the visual cues for each character was impressive.
He also managed to stay in character(s) in the face of audience heckling, and an unfortunate bar accident mid-show. It was as impressive seeing this ability as much as the pre-rehearsed elements, cementing the actor’s skill.
There were plenty of meta-moments throughout the play, making it evident Daniel’s knew enough both about his craft, medium, audience, and socio-political context to write something clever and witty. One thing about characters is they can become offensive very quickly if not handled well, especially if they rely on older and outdated stereotypes . Thankfully, Daniel’s characters are (for the most part) a little more interesting and self-aware than some more simplistic approaches. He has been very careful with his approach, and has shown a way for comedy to still be hilarious and have characters that are beyond parodies of themselves, without falling into harmful stereotypes. More comedians should take this approach.
One criticism that can be made is that it seemed to run a little bit out of energy at the end. There were some moments of a slightly more serious nature towards the end, and these seemed to sit a little uncomfortably with the rest of the show, which did not undermine the whole experience, but certainly were a little confusing. Perhaps because by the time the end was reached, the audience had become a little restless, or perhaps because some of the audience felt confused, they did seem to laugh less heartily than they did at the start. This is a nit-picking statement – they still laughed and applauded very loudly at the end, and it was clearly well liked.
This is clever comedy is funny and engaging, as well as being self-aware enough to not fall into the trap of harmful stereotypes. Original and engaging, let us hope Ross Daniels continues producing engaging material such as this.
One Small Trip is at the Butterfly Club until 20th July. Buy tickets here.