Sheeps and WitTank: Sketch comedy

Lurking at the top of a narrow flight of stairs in The Oxford Arms, in Camden, is the Etcetera Theatre, one of London’s smallest. On this Saturday night, I battled my way through the heaving crowd in the pub to reach this small but perfectly formed venue in search of comedy entertainment from Sheeps and WitTank.

These two sketch groups are each made up of three men who between them have a wild abundance of hair, lots of talent and plenty of shamelessness in their pursuit for laughs. Cooper-Jones from WitTank was especially uninhibited, stripping to his boxers and strapping a pink rubber glove to his chin to impersonate a turkey doing a mating dance, a scene made even more side-splitting by the sniggering voiceover who pointed out ‘this is your career’ to the exhausted Cooper-Jones. As a result, what ensued was an hour that whirled by in a flurry of quips, the absurd and the outright surreal.

Up first were WitTank, who treated the audience to a host of colourful characters and farcical situations such as: the school teacher who treats home like a classroom; a scuba diving instructor who thinks living coral is a myth; a minister for space who jet packs from a meeting (and into the audience) using two cans of deodorant and ‘Lord Boy’, the young inheritor of his father’s seat in the House of Lords who has banned bed time.

There were a couple of moments where they forgot their lines, but  they brilliantly seized upon these moments’ potential for more humour, a highlight being when ‘Lord Boy’ picked up a helicopter left from a previous sketch and asked ‘If I play with this helicopter, will you remember your lines better?’.

Sheeps finished off the evening with a series of sketches that were more stylised and edgy; in their matching outfits they experimented with quite abstract, sometimes meta-theatrical pieces. There were sketches about: a voiceover who wasn’t God but like God; an actor who expressed his displeasure at getting the straight role by playing it so straight that he bullied the camp professor character he wanted off the stage.

Others included an advert aimed at people who cannot think of something they can do better than a cat; a brothel masquerading as site specific theatre, and a wonderful ditty about why Daran Johnson was sad about Mother’s Day (‘I have no child, and I am a man’), to name but a few of the gems they presented.

Both groups were excellent, although different in style and my friends and I were divided on who we preferred. I personally felt WitTank had the slightest of edges on Sheeps that night for their sheer vibrancy but I think Sheeps had the cleverer concepts and with a bit of honing, have the potential to be quite magnificent. So if you are up north for the cultural cocktail that is the Edinburgh Fringe, do check out Sheeps and WitTank, they are going to be spectacular.

WitTank has residency at the Etcetera Theate with forthcoming shows, which can be found at:

Etcetera Theatre
265 Camden High Street

Reader Comments