Original and fun, with a dash of intelligent humour thrown in with ridiculous horror parodies, David Massingham’s Little Sketchbook of Horrors is the type of sketch comedy that makes things interesting. With a refreshing take, on comedy, combined with healthy showmanship and audience participation, this show makes seeing late night comedy worthwhile.
Straight off the bat it was hard to fault the showmanship. Suitably ridiculous, and able to read the room well, comedian David Massingham was convincing in the sheer strangeness of the show, and was very good at getting the audience to participate. Although there were difficult to detect nerves (these always happen), tiny slip-ups were quickly covered, and everything was handled very well.
Massingham’s showmanship was supported (or enhanced by) his very good writing. Only one or two jokes fell flat, and they were throwaway lines within sketches anyway. The structure was quite well handled – one problem with sketch comedy is how to make the transitions between sketches natural and amusing for the audience without being overly cringey. This was handled particularly deftly, and with refreshing and original meta-takes on the performer/performance, the writing was definitely great. Massingham even managed to throw in every cheesy horror stereotype in a well handled and original way.
The only weak spot was audience participation. Any show that relies this heavily on the audience playing along may run into trouble with an awkward or nervous crowd. Although the showmanship can really help, and the audience on the reviewing night were happy to play along, this is something about audience participation that can make everyone stand on edge whilst watching. There is something even more audacious with getting audience members to not just sit still, but actually participate meaningfully, and even help with props.
On that note, the props, tech, costumes, and sounds were handled really well. Despite the wide variety of different props and systems that could go wrong, it managed to hang together very smoothly, and if there were any errors they were hidden very well. Especially considering the audience participation. Although I will question the soundtrack choice a bit.
Little Sketch Book of Horrors is a fine piece of sketch comedy that is refreshingly original, uses witty dialogue and balances tech, audience participation, and strong showmanship well. Despite some moments of awkwardness, the show should be on your list if you have time at 8:45pm of an evening.
Little Sketch Book of Horrors is on at 8:45pm at Tasma Terrace until 7 April as part of the 2019 Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Tickets are available from the comedy festival website, the box office or at the venue.